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First Few Aircraft Arrive for the Great Park’s Flying Leathernecks Museum


Photo of Lady Ace 09 (top) and F/A-18 Super Hornet (bottom) arriving at the Great Park

One of the last Marine Corps aircraft to leave Vietnam during the fall of Saigon will be coming home to Irvine. The CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter, nicknamed “Lady Ace 09,” played a critical role in the effort to evacuate the remaining Americans and at-risk Vietnamese from Saigon in 1975.

“Lady Ace 09 is incredibly meaningful to Marines who served in Vietnam and frankly, all Marines,” said retired U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General Michael Aguilar, who serves as the museum’s president and CEO. General Aguilar added: “The Flying Leathernecks and the City of Irvine have joined with Marine Corps veterans and supporters across the country, to ensure that our rich history — Marine Corps aviation history — will be preserved, honored and educate future generations for years to come.”

The iconic helicopter will be housed alongside some 40 other aircraft and aviation artifacts in an old hangar at the Great Park, while design and construction of the Flying Leathernecks Museum gets underway on the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS).

El Toro MCAS was the original home for display of retired aircraft. When the air station closed, the aircraft and artifacts were moved to a museum at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego. As the first three planes arrived at Hangar 297 in the Great Park, they were met by a cheering crowd. Vice Mayor Larry Agran — who was instrumental in bringing the Flying Leathernecks Museum to the Great Park — said: “These aircraft and the history they tell will be appreciated by Irvine and Orange County families for generations to come.”

The  100,000 square foot museum, expected to open in a couple of years, is a private-public partnership between the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation, the City of Irvine, and the Marine Corps.

ICNV Staff


Irvine, CA
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