TAKING FLIGHT: Former APS chief John Barry selected as new CEO of Wings Over the Rockies


AURORA | John Barry has led students, scientists and soldiers during his varied professional life, and now in his latest career move he’s leading the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum into a new era.

Wings Over the Rockies announced Monday that the former Aurora Public Schools superintendent and retired Air Force General will serve as chief executive officer of the museum beginning Jan. 1.

“If we were to design a perfect leader to take Wings boldly into the future, the blueprint would almost certainly include a diagram of John Barry,” Charlie Johnson, chairman of the board at Wings Over the Rockies, said in a statement. “There simply isn’t a more qualified, courageous or passionate leader more devoted to the heritage and to the future of our museum’s mission.”

In addition to serving 30 years in the Air Force and retiring as a two-star general, Barry also served as executive director of the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation team. Most recently, he was president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver.

With a career in education, aerospace and nonprofit work, Barry said he feels prepared to lead Wings Over the Rockies into the future.

“I’m extremely honored to have been selected to lead such an incredibly important organization,” Barry said. “As a retired general officer, I’m proud to be part of the Wings team. As a pilot I’m excited and, as a businessman, I’m eager.”

Barry said the museum, located on the former Lowry Air Force Base in east Denver, is planning to expand with two airplane hangars in Centennial. But rather that focusing on the history of aerospace, it will shift focus to the future of airplanes and spacecraft. In addition, Wings Over the Rockies wants to open a 6-12 school on the 12-acre Centennial operation.

With Colorado being the second-highest employer for aerospace in the country, it fits pretty well for us to be able to lay the ground work for not only the museum at Lowry … but also, looking forward to the future,” he said. “This is going to be unique to the nation in the sense of having a tremendous museum at Lowry, and then having something that is focusing on the future at Centennial and tying that to education for students in Colorado. It could be an exciting operation.”