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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Southern Heritage Air Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Museums

Mission: Our mission is to preserve Aviation and WWII history so that all generations can appreciate the America's history, and learn more about it. We have a museum that features the stories and memorabilia of local and regional heroes from WWII, and we have several planes that you can get up close to and see. We have a 1945P-51D Mustang n amed Charlotte's Chariot II, A 1942 AT-6 Texan, a 1948 Twin Beech, a 1935 model WACO Classic Bi-plane and a 2001 Amphibious Aviat Husky! All of which still fly today. We offer a rides program, flyover program, make appearances at many air shows and host a bi-annual airshow. We offer group tours!

Target demographics: Our mission is to preserve Aviation and WWII history so that all generations can appreciate the America's history, and learn more about it. We have a museum that features the stories and memorabilia of local and regional heroes from WWII, and we have several planes that you can get up close to and see. We have a 1945P-51D Mustang n amed Charlotte's Chariot II, A 1942 AT-6 Texan, a 1948 Twin Beech, a 1935 model WACO Classic Bi-plane and a 2001 Amphibious Aviat Husky! All of which still fly today. We offer a rides program, flyover program, make appearances at many air shows and host a bi-annual airshow. We offer group tours!

Direct beneficiaries per year: Last year over 7,000 people came through our small museum and attended our bi-annual air show which has been dubbed "The Best Little Air Show in the World"!

Geographic areas served: The field of Aviation and WWII History.

Programs: educational, living history, honoring our veterans and those currently serving, Our group tours will provide you with a trading card of a person, plane or event somewhere within the walls of our museum. That is who you are during the tour. At the end, individuals keep their trading card as a souvenir. If time permits, the group can off on a Recon Mission (Scavenger Hunt) and test their knowledge on what they have learned!

Community Stories

69 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Southern Heritage Air Foundation is a hidden gem filled with World War II memorabilia. The planes are amazing and they offer plane rides. If you have time to stop by you will fine the staff fun, very educational and full of entertaining stories. While you are there be sure to check out the display about my Daddy. He was in an Amphibious tank division during the war. Do yourself and your family a favor by stepping back into history.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have attended many functions at SHAF each and everyone was better than the one before. The planes are awesome. The museum is full of so much history. It is such a beautiful tribute to all of our Veterans. Patty Mekus, Dan Fordice, and all the volunteers truly show, love and respect for all of these great heros. If you have not had the opportunity to visit this wonderful museum make a date to do it I promise you will not be disappointed. I learn something new each time I go.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great museum great people and interesting tours. Also for a fee you can ride onboard an airplane....great lunch once a month for vets family and friends.....if you get a chance check out the mustang (car)

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization is doing a wonderful job of educating the public on local war heroes and keeping everyone interested in vintage war birds. SHAF’s air shows are also great in exposing groups of all ages to modern and vintage planes. Many people are able to acquire their first plane or helicopter ride here. My son took his first helicopter ride here several years ago and decided he wanted to go into aviation. He completed his IFR test today at Delta State. I personally want to thank SHAF and the Fordice family and volunteers for all they do. SHAF brings excitement to aviation lovers and supports veterans. What more could you ask for?

1 Lena M.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is one of the Best kept secrets around. And it shouldn’t be. Everyone needs to come and see what a wonderful job the Southern Heritage Air Foundation has done. They have preserved history of our beloved WWII vets.
They bring a personal touch to these amazing men & women who risked it all to protect our citizens and country.
You will walk away with a sense of pride and feeling like you knew the fine folks the museum honors.
I also had the opportunity to go up in one of the planes. What an honor!!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As an aviation magazine editor, I have visited countless museums and collections. This past fall I traveled south to visit the Southern Heritage Air Foundation for their air show and salute to veterans. It was one of the most enjoyable events I can remember! The hospitality of the staff is amazing and the quality of the event and museum is fabulous. The aircraft are gorgeous! I also noticed the prices in the gift shop were half what I see in other museums, which shows the museum is dedicated to their visitors, many of which are young families. I am looking forward to visiting again and I highly recommend it as a destination for anyone who loves WWII history.

1 Dan J.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Southern Heritage Air Foundation is a great organization. From the Air shows showcasing planes from a bygone era to their monthly Veteran's appreciation lunches. The museum on the Military and Aviation is worth the visit. At one of my visits I was lucky enough to get to fly in the P-51 "Charlotte's Chariot" chasing a Corsair, that was 2 "bucket List" worthy items. The people running this are top notch, friendly and informative.

1 Nancy Culpepper H.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As the daughter of a WWII vet, I am so appreciative of the efforts made by Southern Heritage Air Foundation to recognize our national heroes. The variety of programs and events offered make it a family-friendly place—not your traditional “museum “ with dusty old memorabilia, but one that is ALIVE!

1 Mystique D.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I went to their Airshow and it was wonderful! I got to ride in a helicopter, try great food, and enjoy an amazing show. One of the pilots (who was my favorite) was Kevin Coleman. Definitely worth the drive, and I look forward to the next one.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We love the great events the museum hosts! My 4yo loved watching a movie about planes, surrounded by planes, in a seat from an airplane!
The museum is full of interesting artifacts with a knowledgeable, excited staff.
We’re blessed to have a place like this in our area!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Southern Heritage Air Foundation is certainly deserving of non-profit status. I'm a former Air Force pilot and retired Colonel. I've attended their events, which draw people from surrounding states, and found them to be both inspirational and educational for both adults and children. Their airshows, which have included important vintage World War Two aircraft, such as the P-51, the F4U Corsair, and multiple T-6s, are outstanding. And they sometimes fly their aircraft for display and performances at other sites. I took this photo of one of their aircraft when it came to our town.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This place does amazing work for the veterans. They offer a monthly luncheon (free for all veterans) and they have pretty awesome museum full of WW2 memorabilia. If you have not visited you should plan to see the museum, attend a luncheon or take a ride in one of the vintage planes (definitely a bucket list item) and you do not want to miss out on seeing on of their air shows (one of the best in the country).

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Overall great experience. Love that you can learn about the history of of aviation and how it plays a key part in the freedom of the US and others through out the world and learning about the local men and women that are heroes that walk among us. But actually getting to see the aircraft up close and touching them so you can feel the history.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This museum is a gem! It’s such an asset to not only the area in which it sits, but also to surrounding communities! The monthly and annual events are exciting and create a wonderful economic impact to the whole community of Vicksburg!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This one of the best little museums around and is very special to my family. Some of my late fathers and late brothers memorabilia is in this museum. My kids and I love visiting and going to the air show.

2 Cynthia Arender M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Madison Parish is so lucky to have this incredible museum in our area. My family and I have visited and participated in several events over the years at the Southern Heritage Air Foundation and have always been in awe of the place and it’s historical value to our citizens and community.

2 Jeremy R.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization has done a great job of reaching the public and supporting veterans. I love them.

2 Charlene Young M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I went to air show with a group of relatives a few years back. We enjoyed air show and
had a great time meeting people and eating good food. Hope to do it again.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The planes at this museum are amazing, and they all are in flying condition. The one that seems to be most popular is the 1944 T-6 Texan. They called it the “Pilot Maker” during WWII. You can do all kinds of aerobatics in this plane. It’s great that this museum is keeping these birds flying.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

This place is run by some of the friendliest and most helpful people you’ll ever to likely meet! We love visiting the museum and getting to chat with the personnel about all of the wonderful memorabilia and personal stories from Veterans you’ll get to meet. We’ve also had the wonderful opportunity to take a ride in some of the planes there (Additional cost but WELL WORTH IT!!) and even had my youngest daughters first ever plane ride be in the Waco (biplane)- my kids are all hooked and my son even caught the pilot bug and is now almost completed his private pilot license with lots of support from this community of Southern Heritage Foundation. The people that work there (Dan, Patty and Paul to name a few) become friends to all!

2 Danielle Marie G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great organization to be apart of! It is like being part of a family!

Previous Stories
5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love being at SHAF it is like a family. I love to be involved with the events and help in the smallest ways possible. Patty makes everyone feel like they make a difference. The joy on people's faces when they see the museum and planes is indescribable.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This place (Souther Heritage Air Foundation & Museum) is awesome - my grandson and I visited and had a wonderful time - thank you very much for the wonderful, family-friendly envirnment.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Southern Heritage Air Museum is the best little air museum in MS. The volunteers are always very helpful and curtious. No one supports our veterans better than they do. Ms Patty is the absolute best.

2 Amanda M.15

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Really cool show. I like that they included different types of air and land demonstrations.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have taken my family to the Pajamas, Pancakes and planes breakfast with Santa since the first year it was offered. It is one of our favorite events of the year! It is so organized and well planned. The kids enjoy seeing all of the airplanes and memorabilia.
We also attend the Best Little Air Show and it is amazing!

1 Laura Beth S.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Southern Heritage Air Foundation has a huge impact on our community educating children, providing fun activities like the air show, hangouts at the hangar & movie nights, and helping serve our veterans. We are so lucky to have this asset in our backyard.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

SHAF Museum is a great place to visit and is so accessible for us that don’t want to travel so far. My grandkids love to visit and there’s always something new to see. Highly recommend a visit to all.

1 Merry Ann Payne H.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a great little museum. Toured the hangar and saw some wonderful planes. There was a lot of information to absorb and some great displays. We were shown a movie about some of the planes it was a delight!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was really impressed with the museum and totally enjoyed learning about all the aircraft and how they were used. I wish more of my friends could come over and view the exhibits and learn about our military.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A great place to visit and the people are very friendly. Always something new and exciting to see.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I travel with my wife especially from the UK to attend this airshow and to visit the amazing museum run by even more amazing people! Why do I travel all this way? Because it is the greatest little airshow and museum I know!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Southern Heritage Air Foundation is truly a great organization. The museum is fantastic as are the events. The two things that make SHAF a very special place are the Director, Patty Mekus, and all the volunteers. Everyone has a passion for history and, most importantly, our nation's Veterans. Keep up the great work.

3 Timothy Roy G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for over 4 years and everyone there has been an inspiration for me went back to school and now I have one year left before I get my A&P license it’s the best decision I ever made

4 Julie M V.

Donor

Rating: 5

Patty and Dan are Aviation History and Airshow Organizing Rockstars!!!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Fantastic organization and museum. The Southern Heritage Air Foundation is more than an organization about flight as it is truly an organization about Veterans and what they have done, through the air, the keep America safe, secure and free. Patty Mekus does a wonderful job in serving those that have served us all.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Even though this museum appears to be small, there is so much to see and learn. I could have spent the entire day there (and practically did) and still come back for more. Patty Mekus radiates with enthusiasm and her knowledge of the history of the memorabilia and the stories attached is phenomenal. The museum itself is dedicated to WWII and the heroes from Mississippi. There is a deep feeling of honor and respect from all who work there; and this honor and respect transfers to the visitors. I highly recommend visiting this hidden treasure. There is no other museum like it.

4 Patty67

Board Member

Rating: 5

In June, the museum offered a Living History program called "Almost Forgotten". A friend of the Foundation had restored a WWII TBM Avenger, and wanted to paint it in the scheme of someone from Mississippi that had flown one during WWII. During research, it was discovered that someone from Vicksburg, Mississippi had flown one! His name was Guy McAdory Brown and he was KIA flying a missing just two weeks before the war ended. Also, during the search for family members, which turned up nothing, it did connect those volunteers working on the research, to a man named Dean Boyer (95 yrs. old) that flew #96 in Guy's group and who was friends with Guy. He joined the event and flew in on the newly restored TBM! Not only did he speak, but a young gentleman from California, who was the great nephew of the turret gunner killed on the mission with Guy, joined us and spoke, and the daughter of Dean's turret gunner was there! Over 200 people came out to celebrate these heroes and watch the warbirds take flight. You read about WWII mission stories in books, but to hear from those who were there is truly Living History. One of the things this Foundation is committed to bringing the community and all interested! Donations and admissions and grants keep this museum open for people of all ages to enjoy and learn the real stories of real heroes!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

We visited the museum one Saturday in May and did not want to leave! Although it is small, there is so so much too see. Once you step out of the museum you are in a hangar full of the coolest aircraft. A T-6 Texan, A P-51 Mustang, Twin Beech, WACO Bi-plane and more. I am a pilot that flies for a major airline, so smaller planes just intrigue me, especially when there is a story to go along with the plane, and you can have the chance to ride in one! This foundation is preserving history for all generations, and is run with volunteers who love and are honored to share the stories of their heroes. If you can, visit this place, and make sure to donate so they can share and grow what they have.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A hidden treasure for any WWII enthusiast and just a short drive from Vicksburg, MS.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Such a wonderful event!!! So glad we were able to make it and we will be back again.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

All the times I have visited the The Southern Heritage Air Foundation have been so special. In particular, the last time I was there I was able to enjoy a plane ride with Dan Fordice in the AT-6. The views were amazing and the flips and tricks were so much fun. I would strongly encourage anyone who enjoys flying to take a ride in one of the beautiful planes and definitely checkout the museum when you are there. Love this foundation and the people behind its operation. Thankful to have the opportunity to experience it!

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We had a wonderful time at the event this weekend. The museum is wonderful, the food was great and what an honor it was to hear the guest speaker, a WWII veteran!

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Great organization. I will always support them, and enjoy their events. They go the extra mile in research and showmanship for historical pieces.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Honor and respect are the central themes of the Southern Heritage Air Foundation. From wonderful guest speakers to thrilling and educational air shows, SHAF is a jewel for the southeastern United States.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We love the air shows every year. My son is fascinated by all WWII things

4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have enjoyed aviation for most of my life and have a particular fondness for WWII aircraft. and history. Southern Heritage Air Foundation offers a great venue for such. Besides a great museum of local history, they maintain multiple propeller driven air craft and offer flights in most of the aircraft. The museum has multiple functions that helps to keep the history alive. A great way to study history.

JNF

2 Randy47

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been around this non-profit from the very beginning and watched it grow into something that allows people the chance to learn and understand the many aspects of the lives and actions of those who protected and currently protect this great country. Day in and day out when folks visit the museum, they come away with a better appreciation of those who served or are serving. The Southern Heritage Air Foundation brings more than just the aviation aspect to the public by working in a partnership with it's sister foundation, The Warrior Bonfire Program. The Southern Heritage Air Foundation is doing it's part in helping those currently in need that have come back to the civilian world and face the lack of care and understanding they so desperately need. As a veteran, that means a lot to me.

4 Janice58

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was invited by a friend, Beth Fields, to visit the Southern Heritage Air Foundation..I immediately fell in love with the volunteers, the rich history and the amazing leadership of Patty Mekus.. That was seven months ago and my husband and I truly look forward to continuing our support of the SHAF for many years.. J Garner

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

By working with this nonprofit, you can see how our efforts postively affects our military vets. It has been a blessing working with all their volunteers and military vets.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Children of all ages - toddlers to seniors - can find something to enjoy at Southern Heritage Air Foundation (SHAF) just off I-20 between Vickburg, MS, and Tallulah, LA. Displays featuring local Southern World War II veterans, their stories and equipment fill this small gem of a museum. You can see vintage aircraft - that still fly! You can experience a personal guided tour of all exhibits and hear and see videos featuring the veterans. Monthly "hangar lunches" are a treat - both for the excellent food and a chance to eat and talk with veterans of all services and conflicts. The bi-annual "Best Little Air Show in the World" is an experience for all ages with vintage warbirds to modern aircraft performing. Treat yourself to the experience of a lifetime with a flight in one of their vintage aircraft or enjoy a slice of history being preserved for all generations to learn, appreciate and enjoy.

2 Bobbie14

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I grew up around airplanes, lived on a small grass airstrip south of Atlanta. I met my future husband at an aerobatic club dinner, and who wouldn't be thrilled with my wedding present from him, a Dehavilland Chipmunk! After many long years, I found myself a widow and moved to Mississippi to be near family. Longing for the sound of airplane engines, the rapport with people who could speak ailerons and rudders, and the joy of hanger flying, I discovered the Southern Heritage Air Foundation. This was the warmest, friendliest bunch of aviation enthusiasts I had met in years, and I quickly became a volunteer. The museum itself, dedicated to WWII and heroes from MS who served, is a plethora of information, a place where one could learn something different with every visit. The static display of airplanes and the thrill of the P-51 when it gets fired up takes me way back in time--home again.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Such a wonderful museum. Very informative. I enjoyed the history of the planes. I went for a 40 minute ride in a T-6. It was the ride of a lifetime. I would recommend everyone stop by this museum or plan on attending the air show there or, better yet, take a ride in one of these pieces of history.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We attended one of the Hang Out at the Hangar lunches and loved the museum and getting up close to the planes they have. During the lunch we heard something landing outside and everyone ran out to see what it was. How cool it was for my kids to get to climb into a real military helicopter! We have visited several times since and ever visit has had something unique and different . Looking forward to their Air Show this year!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Thank you to all the volunteers for making our visit so special. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. The museum was fabulous. We actually got to touch and walk through history. The fact that so many of the items were from Southerners was inspiring. My sons were thrilled with their ride in the Waco. It is an experience that they will treasure for a lifetime. We had a wonderful day!!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been involved with the Southern Heritage Air Foundation for the past two years as Executive Director of the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce. This organization is outstanding as it preserves our past, our planes, and our vets! Every time I visit the museum or attend a special luncheon, ribbon cutting or Business After Hours, I see smiling community members, mostly retired, some vets, working together to promote community, and tell the stories of the past with regard to our military history. I see the foundation honoring living vets and preserving the memorabilia of deceased veterans. I'm so proud of this organization and what it is doing for our community including our children.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It's unbelievable the amount of information that this "little hidden museum" has on WWII. Truly remarkable. Very active with offering programs to the community whether it's for school age kids or for seniors. Easy on and off I-20. It is "a must" to visit.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We had a great visit and while we were there WWII Veteran Jim Westbrook happened to be there! He was a Marine at Iwo Jima. Living history along with great memorabilia from many local WWII Veterans! Wow! What an experience!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is one place that needs to get noticed and funded because it provides such an important role in educating us about history.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

What a hidden treasure of history! The stories of local and regional WWII Veterans and seeing their memorabilia was very moving. BUT the planes.......The cool planes! And they all fly! Getting a ride in one was a treat!

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Wonderful museum and great events! You must check it out while visiting the area!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

SHAF is amazing! The volunteers and employees are so helpful and nice. The museum is FULL of wonderful information and stories. The planes are all so neat to look at too!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great museum planes and displays great people couldn't be any nicer or informative

2 Suzanne75

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I visited the museum a few weeks ago and was very impressed with the memorabilia. The tour was awesome and I would highly suggest a visit if you are in the area!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This museum is always adding new memorabilia and hosting unique events! I am never disappointed when I visit, and I refer others to this hidden treasure too!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I think the Southern Heritage Air Foundation is a wonderful organization. They do a great job organizing events for the public and provide a much needed service for the area. The Warrior Bonfire Project is presented very well by the organization and is much needed for our veterans. The hangar luncheons are always well done and the field trips are very much enjoyed by school children from Louisiana and Mississippi. Keep up the good work!