In 1985, Michael Speciale became the new Executive Director of the New England Air Museum.
In the mid-1980s the museum was still overcoming issues wrought by the 1979 tornado. Financially and organizationally, it was time for a change. Speciale was hired as Executive Director after working in the non-profit sector for many years. Speciale oversaw a change in the organization away from “aviation enthusiasts” and towards a professionalization of the museum. He brought connections, ideas, and organizational and fundraising know-how to NEAM at a time when the organization needed it the most.
During his twenty-nine year tenure at the New England Air Museum, Speciale made many changes to the institution. His first challenge was to financially stabilize the organization. With the museum’s finances secured, Mike turned to expansion. During his time at NEAM, four new buildings were built on the property including the Restoration Hangar, Storage Building, Military Hangar, B-29 Hangar, and Storage Hangar. This brought the museum into a new era of growth both physically and as institutionally. Speciale also oversaw the beginning of many educational programs and special events at the museum, and actively promoted corporate partnerships with NEAM. Through his tenure as Executive Director, Speciale brought the New England Air Museum into a new and professional era that continues to this day.
CAHA founding member Igor Sikorsky Jr., former Operations Director Charles Horner, NEAM Volunteer Thomas Palshaw, and former Executive Director Michael Speciale talk about Speciale's time as museum director.