About the C.R. Smith Museum
The C.R. Smith Museum is named for the innovative aviation pioneer and former President of American Airlines, Cyrus Rowlett Smith. The building of the museum honoring C.R. Smith and his accomplishments was the culmination of a two and one-half year fundraising and building effort led by various AA employee and retiree groups. The museum opened July 3rd, 1993.
Artifacts, which began with the Paul Kent Collection, were acquisitioned, painstakingly catalogued and incorporated into the museum’s displays and archives by staff and volunteers. Many of these original volunteers are still actively involved with the museum.
The “star” and centerpiece of the C.R. Smith Museum is its lovingly restored 1940 Douglas DC-3, Flagship Knoxville. Visitors can get a real sense of what air travel was like in the 1940s when C.R. Smith and the DC-3 revolutionized commercial air travel. The retired aircraft was purchased by The Grey Eagles, an AA retiree group, restored by retired and active AA employees, and presented to the museum. A special addition to the museum was completed and dedicated on February 22, 1999, to house this special piece of history and protect it from the elements. The “DC-3 Hangar” was made possible by the fundraising efforts of the DC-3 Coalition, a volunteer group headed by former AA Senior Vice President of Field Sales and Services, Otto Becker. The group sold inscribed bricks that make up the floor of the “hangar”. American Airlines was also instrumental in the completion of the project.
November 9, 2007, marked the official unveiling of the museum’s updated History Circle as well as a number of new exhibits. New graphics, artifacts and state-of-the-art video monitors bring visitors information on the ever changing world of American Airlines, American Eagle, the commercial aviation industry, the challenges, the changes, and the future. Children will find many new exhibits that will catch their attention and keep them engaged.
Within the History Circle lies a new theater, sponsored by American Express Travel, featuring the original HD film, An American Journey. It is a chance for the visitor to hear the stories of American Airlines/American Eagle personnel, their contributions, and what the airline industry means to them. It is a heart-warming addition to the museum.