Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that even the best museums will be permanent vaults for the artifacts they protect. Air Classics is reporting that the incredible warbird collection of the late Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, has been sold by his estate and that the assets are being prepared for a “cross-country” relocation to a new owner. Many non-aviation assets of Allen’s estate have recently been reported sold, so there’s no reason to doubt the report. Almost a year ago, Courtesy Aircraft Sales and Platinum Fighter Sales listed a large handful of Allen’s restoration projects for sale.
Allen’s museum and restoration center, the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM) closed suddenly and indefinitely in May 2020 with a brief statement blaming the then-still-young COVID-19 crisis. Since then, the museum has neither reopened nor made any further statements, despite over 400 comments and requests for an update by eager followers of the museum’s Facebook page. The museum’s website is still active, and if you have time, we recommend taking a browse of the Collection page to get a feel for the breadth of the anthology it contained.
Allen passed away on October 15, 2018, at age 65, of septic shock as a complication of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In his 2011 autobiography, Idea Man, Allen described his enthusiasm for aerospace, with a particularly memorable account of his experience contributing to the Ansari X Prize-winning effort to safely launch SpaceShipOne twice within two weeks. Beyond winning the X Prize, the effort netted Allen the Collier Trophy, shared with partners Burt Rutan, Doug Shane, Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie.