The Museum of Flight in Seattle has announced a gift of $17 million from the estate of Betty Houston, the late widow of WWII vet and airline pilot Frank "Sam" Houston.
The bequest will establish the Frank "Sam" and Betty Houston Education Endowment and support the ongoing maintenance and exhibition of the museum's vintage Boeing B-17 aircraft. Betty Houston, who took flying lessons when she was young but could not afford to attend college or earn her pilot's license, asked the museum to use the bequest to increase opportunities for young women and help students gain access to careers in aerospace and STEM fields.
Sam Houston, who died in 2002, flew B-17 bombers during World War II, including seven missions over Berlin, and volunteered for the Aphrodite program, a top-secret effort based in England to fly remotely controlled planes laden with explosives into targets near the European coast. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service, Houston became an airline pilot after the war, while Betty Houston worked for Northwest Airlines.
"Betty recognized the importance of the Museum of Flight's educational mission and our commitment to opening doors for all. We are so honored that the Houstons' passion for aviation and commitment to young people will live on for generations to come at [the museum]," said vice president of development Trip Switzer. "It is an investment that will help us fulfill the museum's vision to be the foremost educational air and space museum in the world. And while the size of the gift is impressive, it is the impact on youth into the future that will prove to be the indelible mark on our community."