Building the Dream
For several years the Boron Chamber of Commerce had a dream to build an Aerospace Museum showcasing memorabilia and displays of aerospace systems associated with their neighbors, the Flight Test Center, Air Force Research Laboratory and NASA Dryden. The vision was to align the new museum next to the current Twenty Mule Team Museum. In 1996, an Aerospace Team was formed to begin the planning phase. The dream was becoming a vision with goals. Resources and costs were identified to complete the construction goals which included raising the funding needed to complete the project.
To show the local community this dream could be realized the first project was to obtain an aircraft display. The Aerospace Team worked to procure an F-4 Phantom through the Air Force Conditional Deeded Program, Davis Montham AFB, Arizona. This entailed raising twelve thousand dollars for environmental and transportation costs associated with the aircraft selected for display. In addition, a team of volunteers from Edwards, US Borax, KJC and the local community was organized to set up the display. This monumental task was completed in two weeks.
The next step in the process was to at the cost to purchase and build the Aerospace Museum. The Aerospace Team visited the March AFB Museum, Edwards AFB Museum and contacted other museums to obtain information on how they started. A plain was developed, the budget established and the Aerospace Team began working on a set of draft blueprints. The new museum needed a name! At one of the Boron Chamber of Commerce meetings the team brought this to the community. It was decided at the meeting that the museum should be named after someone who spent time at Edwards AFB and loved to fly over this area. Was there such a person?
The Air Force Flight Test Center was contacted and a name was identified, Colonel Vernon Parker Saxon Jr. At that time Col. Saxon was the Air Force Flight Test Centers Vice-Commander. Throughout his career he had 11 assignments at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards. He flew more than 4,000 hours and held a Command Pilot rating. He flew several types of aircraft including the A-1, T-38 and his favorite the F-15. He was also instrumental in building a bridge between the base and the surrounding communities. He chaired the Installation Restoration Program, which brought him in close touch with the local communities on environmental issues.
The Boron Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously to ask Col. Saxon if he would honor or community and allow us to name the Aerospace Museum after him. It was at this time the community learned of his battle with terminal cancer. In April 1997, Col. Saxon succumbed to this terrible disease. The Aerospace Team felt naming the museum after Col. Saxon would be a fitting memorial to honor him. The Saxon family visited Boron and reviewed the plans for the new museum and became part of the team to build the Col. Vernon P. Saxon Jr. Aerospace Museum.
A ground breaking dedication ceremony was held at the site of the new museum on Sep. 13, 1997, to an attendance of well over a thousand friends, family and local community members. Major General Richard Engel spoke to the crowed about Col. Saxon's successful career at the Air Force Flight Test Center. He was very touched by the display of the F-4C Phantom and told of the many sorties he and Col. Saxon had flown on this jet during their assignment to the Air Force Flight Test Center, Test Pilot School. He also told of Col. Saxon's crusade to bring the Air Force Flight Test Center and the surrounding communities together. He wanted to share the mission of Edwards with the neighboring communities so they could stand together as a team.
Col. Saxon's daughter Jennifer also spoke to the community and in her speech she stated. "My dad loved everything about aerospace. When he wasn't flying, he was watching movies about flying and reading books about flying, and building airplanes that would sometimes even fly. He loved flying, but not just anywhere. He loved flying at Edwards. Edwards was his job, his career, and his life. This museum will be a fitting tribute to my dad not only because it showcases his passion for airplanes, but because it depends on something he worked hard to encourage - continued cooperation between the units at Edwards and the surrounding communities, like Boron. This museum of which I know the Saxon family will be proud. It is a museum of which my father would have been proud. He never wanted to leave this area and now thanks to you, his spirit never will."
Boron is the kind of community where civic-minded citizens pull together, work hard as a team, and in the end accomplish monumental undertakings. The citizens of Boron over the course of the next six years donated thousands of dollars and man-hours towards the construction of the Saxon Aerospace Museum. On September 5, 2003 their hard work was rewarded with the grand opening of the Saxon Aerospace Museum.
The Boron Chamber of Commerce would like to thank "Team Boron" (James Welling, Ken Ross, Hugh Jamison, Melvin English, Bob Cunningham, and George LaMoureaux) for their generous donations of both time and money in making the dream of the Saxon Aerospace Museum a reality. A special thanks also go out to our major corporate sponsors US Borax, KJC Solar, Meldon Glass and the U. S. Air Force. Our corporate sponsor's philanthropic contributions of thousands of dollars of money and construction materials enabled us to build our world-class facilities.
Click here to see some pictures of the museum during its construction.