The Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum’s (FHCAM) collection at Paine Field Airport (KPAE) in Everett, Washington, has reportedly been sold to Steuart Walton, the grandson of Walmart (NYSE: WMT) founder Sam Walton.
The museum’s last owner was the late Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and business magnate, who owned and managed the museum as part of his estate. Allen died in 2018 after battling cancer.
The Museum’s History
According to the museum’s website, Allen was an avid aircraft collector in his lifetime and acquired other military artifacts.
In 2008, the collection moved from its home in Arlington, Washington, to its current location at Paine Field. It showcased Allen’s collection of approximately 71 pieces from the United States, Britain, Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union. Another point of historical significance is that the refurbished hangars that housed the museums served as maintenance hangars for Alaska Airlines in the 1950s.
In May 2020, the museum suspended its operations indefinitely due to the disruption from the pandemic but never reopened.
Allen’s estate was managed by the holding company he founded in 1986, Vulcan Inc., that held the museum as an asset. Another recent and prominent divestment was Stratolaunch, which Allen founded in 2011 to build a new flying launchpad for space vehicles and rockets.
With the sale, it is now expected that Walton or the Runway Group will relocate the entire exhibit to another location. Some of the prominent artifacts include SpaceShipOne, the world’s first private crewed spacecraft that won $10 million from the X Prize Foundation as the first civilian team to launch a low-cost spaceship into suborbital flight twice within two weeks. It was carried into space by the White Knight carrier airplane, which was also in the museum.
Who is Steuart Walton?
Steuart Walton is co-founder of the Runway Group, a holding company that invests in real estate, hospitality, and other businesses in Bentonville, Arkansas. He is also the founder and chairman of Game Composites, a company that designs and builds small composite aircraft.
He sits on the boards of directors of Walmart, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Flipkart, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Walton, an accomplished pilot, has been known for his affinity for vintage airplanes. In May 2020, while serving as chairman of the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force, he led a statewide flyover to honor healthcare workers and first responders in the early stages of the pandemic. That flyover included four warplanes—a 1944 Goodyear F2G Super Corsair and three North American P-51 Mustangs.
Efforts by FLYING to reach FHCAM, Vulcan, or the Runway Group were unsuccessful.