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In 1996 Bill and Bob Meinhardt, and Eliot James acquired the USS Aries when the entire fleet of Pegasus Class hydrofoils had been decommissioned after only 10 years of service due to the downsizing of the US Navy.  Of the 6 Pegasus Class ships, 4 were scrapped, one stripped of her foils and down to her hull then rebuilt as a private yacht but eventually scrapped also, and only Aries survives intact as a hydrofoil. In cooperation with the ship breaking company that scrapped the other ships, we were able to spend 4 months gathering spare parts, many of which would cost millions to reproduce, from Aries’ sister ships. Under her own power with a small volunteer crew of only 3 and sometimes 4, we sailed 2500 miles from the Charleston, SC Navy shipyard south through the Florida Keys where we were recognized as a ship until recently stationed out of Key West.  We proceeded up the river system to Brunswick, Missouri.
Once in Missouri, we began restoration of the ship and started a museum to preserve the Aries and foster the growth of hydrofoil technology. While we have had our 501c3 tax exempt status for several years, we were in a probationary period for the first 5 years of organizations status.  We have past the probationary period and review by the Dept. of Revenue. Our hydrofoil fleet has been growing, and now includes the Aries, 3 Dynafoils, a Water Spyder, President Nixon’s Volga, a HI-Foil, and the US Naval research ship FRESH-1.  We are not focused on static displays, but hydrofoils that fly, while we lack the ACS and LM2500 for the Aries, we have most of our other hydrofoils flying.
With our 501c3 status, we are eligible for the Ship Donation Program that gives us access to the main components we are missing, namely, a decommissioned 75mm cannon, decommissioned Harpoon missiles and an LM2500 turbine engine of which there are many available. We believe that by bringing our hydrofoils to flying status, we will not only make a more interesting museum, but could generate significantly more interest by flying our displays to different locations, waterfront festivities, boat shows, other marine museums where we would be visiting exhibits. We could work with companies and universities as test beds for experiments in advanced marine vehicles. Our goal is not to just preserve history, but to foster new ideas and concepts and offer a working representation of what has been up to now, the state of the art in marine technology.  We want to offer the opportunity to participate as a training ship for maritime and naval architectural schools and universities as well as educate the public in general to the concept of hydrofoils by traveling to other naval museums as a visiting exhibit and waterfront festivities that bring together people interested in learning about navy ships in general and hydrofoils in particular.
Exhibits
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The USS Aries has 501(c)(3) status, allowing it to accept tax deductible contributions to the memorial.