You’ve seen a change in the landscape if you’ve driven by the intersection of Three Springs Road and Smallhouse Road recently, and that change is only going to continue.

Aviation Heritage Park, which since its establishment in 2009 has honored southcentral Kentucky’s rich aviation history with aircraft displays, now has the skeleton of a brick-and-mortar addition that promises to launch AHP to new heights.

Despite delays brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and a fundraising campaign that hasn’t yet reached its goal, a $2.5 million, 11,000-square-foot museum is going up at the park that is near the inline hockey rink at Basil Griffin Park.

The museum that will look like a 1930s-era airplane hangar has been in the works since 2018 and was originally slated to be completed in 2020.

As the steel skeleton attests, work on the structure is moving toward a late 2021 opening while AHP leaders are trying to find the final dollars to make that happen.

“We are nearing completion of phase one, which is all the foundation with structural steel and the underground plumbing and electric,” said Joe Tinius, president of the AHP board of directors. “This week and next we’ll be pouring the floor slabs and have all the foundation done.”

After that, Tinius said AHP board members will meet with staff from the Scott, Murphy and Daniel construction company that is building the museum and come up with a plan for phase two, which will include building walls and a roof.

“That should start sometime in May,” Tinius said. “It will probably be two to three months of work. By late summer, we should be ready for phase three, which is the interior work. Our goal is to be in the building by the end of the year.”

Meeting that timetable will depend greatly on meeting the $2.5 million fundraising goal. Tinius said the AHP board has raised more than half that total, and a partnership with a national, military-oriented organization called the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association is expected to provide a boost.

That group had its fundraising plans stymied by the pandemic, but Tinius believes the organization that has grown beyond its original membership of Vietnam-era military pilots will pick up momentum.

“They’re just in the beginning stages of fundraising,” Tinius said. “They had to cancel their annual reunion, and they’ve had to reorganize how they’re going to go about fundraising.”

The AHP museum will be home base for the Red River Valley Association, and Tinius said the museum will include a display to honor RRVA co-founder Howard “Scrappy” Johnson, a decorated U.S. Air Force pilot who grew up in Louisville and is in the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame.

Tinius expects the museum to also contain memorabilia and artifacts from the life of Victor Strahm, who spent part of his childhood in Bowling Green before becoming a World War I flying ace.

The museum will also be home to a Piper Cub of the type flown by pioneering female aviator Willa Brown, who was born in Glasgow.

“The Piper Cub will hang in the museum, but we’ll have a system that will allow us to display it on the floor as well,” Tinius said.

In addition to such artifacts, the museum will have a classroom component that will allow it to be used as an educational site.

“We have already received a grant for a flight simulator,” Tinius said. “That will be part of the classroom, where students can come and learn about aviation. It will be an educational facility along with a museum.”

Building the museum will also allow the park to add to its outdoor display, which now includes seven aircraft.

“We’ll have a minimum of four additional pads (for aircraft) when the project is done,” Tinius said. “We could possibly have six more. We could have 10 to 12 aircraft on display outdoors when all is said and done.”

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

​– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.