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Future of Flight Foundation now Institute of Flight



The dictionary definition of “philanthropy” is: (a) an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes; (b) an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes. In the first sense, the Future of Flight Foundation is a recipient of the philanthropy of others, from large in-kind and financial donations to the proceeds of ticket sales at fundraising events. In the second sense, the Foundation is a philanthropic organization through its many educational programs (including financial aid to students) and events, as well as the other benefits it brings to the community.

The nature, breadth, and depth of the Foundation’s philanthropic activities has transitioned over the first decade of its life, and will evolve further going forward.

The organization’s original formal incarnation in late 2003 as Friends of the Aviation Museum and Conference Center at the National Flight Interpretative Center was as a fundraising organization. Its articles of incorporation set forth the nonprofit’s purpose: “to philanthropically support the operation” of the new facility, specifically as to “the encouragement, enhancement, endowment and support of annual AMCC operations, programs, exhibits and construction at the NFIC through receipt, investment, administration, grant or otherwise of philanthropic and volunteer contributions to the charitable, scientific and or educational purposes of the AMCC at the NFIC.”

The organization pursued this mission principally through personal contributions made by its founders and other early local supporters, by seeking large donations (such as the challenge matching grant from James Ray described previously in this history), and by obtaining financial support from businesses, as well as various in-kind goods and services and the donation or loan of exhibits for the Aviation Center Gallery. Many of these contributions have been mentioned in this history’s descriptions of the Gallery’s physical improvements and the exhibits and activities there. Such efforts have continued into the present.

As the nonprofit matured and developed its education programs, its fundraising efforts expanded to pursue grants, partnerships and other support. A number of the fruits of this work appear in this history’s descriptions of the Foundation’s education programs.

The Foundation has been listing its generous supporters in its annual reports. The 2009 and later reports are available at Two large red plaques in the Future of Flight lobby also recognize the generous contributions of scores of individuals, companies, and organizations.

The Foundation has for several years combined philanthropy with community engagement in the form of fun nights out. These events not only raise money for the Foundation’s philanthropic programs, but also help create an ongoing supportive community for the Foundation’s work.

On October 14, 2006 the “Wings of Fame” gala raised $80,000 for the Foundation’s education programs. Aviation luminaries from around the world charmed the crowd with inspiring antics and stories, providing glimpses of the future of aviation. A similar event in 2011 netted $54,000. On October 6, 2012, the Foundation held “The Adventures of Amelia” gala and auction fundraiser. It featured a special performance by aerialist Crystalle – “Adagio for Amelia," an homage to the legendary Amelia Earhart. Including in-kind donations, the event netted over $82,000 in support of the Foundation’s programs.

The theme of the Foundation’s Gala and Auction on November 9, 2013 was “Fly Me to the Moon.” Honorary chairpersons were Anna and Larry Loftis. Mrs. Loftis was an educator in the Issaquah School District, and Mr. Loftis was the vice president and general manager for Boeing’s 787 program. Special guests were South Korean astronaut Dr. Soyeon Yi and her husband, Dr. Jason Chang. Dr. Yi shared a video of her singing Fly Me to the Moon on the International Space Station. Washington Governor Jay Inslee sent a video in which he complimented the Foundation’s STEM Education program. The Foundation honored its outgoing Executive Director, Barry Smith, and renamed its education program in his honor. The event netted over $118,000 in support of the Foundation’s education programs and its Gallery exhibits and activities.

Also in 2013 – on August 16 – the Foundation held its first “Wine and Wings” fundraising event. More than 300 attendees enjoyed the offerings of over 20 Washington boutique wineries. Two of the Foundation’s preferred events caterers – Kaspars Special Events & Catering and Act III Catering – donated delicious hors d’oeuvres and nonalcoholic beverages. The Boeing Company provided a unique feature for the event: parking a 747 Dreamlifter next to the Aviation Center so guests could wine and dine under its enormous wings.

On June 20, 2014, more than 300 guests attended Wine, Wings & More at the Future of Flight. Wineries, brewers, distillers and a local producer of classic soft drinks provided beverages in the Gallery and on the Strato Deck. Jazz musician Darren Motamedy performed. Seattle Seahawks Sea Gals appeared along with the Lombardi Trophy representing the team’s recent Super Bowl victory. A Porsche car decorated with a Seahawks theme was on the Gallery floor, and a Boeing 747-8 painted in Seahawks 12th Man livery was parked next to the Gallery’s giant open glass door.

On October 18, 2014 the Foundation held its “I Believe I Can Fly” Gala and Auction. The event raised over $182,000 to support the Foundation’s exhibits and its STEAM education programs, including over $42,000 earmarked for needs-based financial assistance for students.

The 2015 Wine Wings & More fundraiser was held on June 19. A Jetstar 787-8 was parked on the Kilo 1 ramp. The Kerry Wallingford Jazz Quartet performed. Guests could have their photo taken with Blitz, the Seahawks mascot. The Foundation’s education team had the Makerspace open for guests to 3-D print a drink-identifying tag. The silent auction’s theme was Indulgence.

The theme of the October 24, 2015 annual Gala was “Back to the Future of Flight,” and the auction’s theme was Pamper. The auctioneer was popular Seattle radio personality John Curley, and the master of ceremonies was Russ Cimber, Production Director at Bonneville Broadcasting Seattle. South Korean astronaut Dr. Soyeon Yi was the event’s Honorary Chair. Guests had their picture taken with a DeLorean automobile, and the Seahawks 747-8 was parked on the ramp next to the Gallery.