Introduction to the Vought Aircraft Heritage Foundation
Chance Vought Aircraft, the second oldest aviation company in the industry, was founded in 1917. As leaders in aerospace for almost 90 years, companies using the Vought name have held a respected position through various leadership and ownership changes. Northrop Grumman acquired the Vought Aircraft Company in 1995, operating it as a division of the larger company, without retaining the Vought name.
A group of "Vought Survivors," already dedicated to preserving the Vought heritage, started taking aggressive action in 1996 when they became aware that stored Vought archives, which contained thousands of boxes of historical, scientific and related material, were in danger of being lost.
Meetings with Northrop Grumman management resulted in rescue and preservation of heritage material. Both parties recognized the need to maintain a Vought identity and established the NG "Vought Retiree Club." Funding was provided not only for many social activities but also for the following programs:
- A world-class web site was created. It reflects the Vought heritage with over 1,000 pages of written material and more than 1,500 photographs.
- A Restoration Group of retirees searched for and found Vought-produced artifacts. These items were restored to museum quality by retirees at the Dallas Vought facility. Thus far an A7B, RF8G, F8U-2, F4U, F6U, F7U-3 and the Regulus II, on loan from the US. Navy, are in various completion statuses of the restoration cycle. Based on demonstrated capability and the quality of our restoration workmanship, the Navy has now given us contractual authority to display our artifacts in museums of our choice.
- Two years of negotiations with the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum resulted in return of our "V-173 Pancake," which we are restoring and will have on display when completed.
- The 1917 "VE-7 Bluebird" has been built from scratch. This is a wooden, fabric-covered biplane that represents Chance Milton Voughts first production aircraft. This task involved engineering new blueprints, fabricating wooden parts, gluing assemblies and covering with fabric.
In July 2000, the Vought name regained international recognition when the aerostructures business of Northrop Grumman was purchased by The Carlyle Group and became an independent company, Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc. (VAII).
Despite our many accomplishments as a heritage organization, we had not yet been able to acquire our Vought centerpiece, the F4U Corsair. Funds, which were allocated by the company, were insufficient to purchase a non-flyable structure for restoration.
This led to creating a task force to locate F4U hardware and finding funds to make it happen. In 2003, with the help of VAII, we established the Vought Aircraft Heritage Foundation (VAHF), an independent 501(c)(3) corporation. This allows us to seek tax-deductible donations to fund VAHF, which is operated by an independent Board of Directors.
Through our world-class restorations we have demonstrated that we can preserve much of the Vought heritage. The A7B and the RF8G are now part of the Vought display in the new Frontiers of Flight Museum at Dallas Love Field. The Regulus II will soon follow. Our families and future generations are now able to view these artifacts, with more to come at this and other museums.