Blytheville turning ex-military base into a Cold War Museum

CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images

BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. — Blytheville is transforming a decommissioned Air Force base into a Cold War Museum.

The city released plans last month to build the Blytheville Air Force Base National Cold War Museum on the site of the former Strategic Air Command base that shut down in 1992, the Arkansas Business reported.

Liz Smith, executive director of the Blytheville Chamber of Commerce, said supporters of the project are feeling the nostalgia and zeal that has inspired other Cold War museums in the U.S. and overseas.

“It has bowled me over, really, having worked here as the director of the chamber of commerce for 15 years, that we have had so much outside excitement and interest,” Smith added. “People are really picking up on it.”

Smith noted that there’s a capital fund drive that seeks to raise $20 million. The city is aiming to open a small exhibit by fall.

Interactive displays, two aircraft and a renovated alert facility are part of the complete plan.

Smith said it was vital to have an exhibit in place, ideally by Veterans Day, in order to interest the Air Force in lending a decommissioned B-52 bomber and KC-135 cargo plane.

A viability study subsidized by an Arkansas Parks and Tourism Grant and backed by Mississippi County anticipated a minimum of 50,000 annual guests by the museum’s third year.

“They said the sky is probably the limit. They think after year three it could go almost anywhere,” Smith said.

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