The position of Director was not established until 1958. Prior to that, Carl W. Mitman was appointed Assistant to the Secretary for the National Air Museum in 1946. Upon his retirement in 1952, Curator Paul E. Garber was named Head Curator.
In 1958, Philip S. Hopkins became the first Director, serving from 1958 to 1964. He was succeeded by S. Paul Johnston, who held the position from 1964 to 1969. Frank A. Taylor was appointed Acting Director and held that position until Michael Collins was appointed Director in 1971. Collins guided the Museum through construction and opening of the new facility. He resigned in 1978 and was succeeded by Melvin B. Zisfein, Acting Director, 1978-1979; Noel W. Hinners, Director, 1979-1982; Walter Boyne, Acting Director, 1982, Director, 1983-1986; Donald S. Lopez, Acting Director, 1986, 1995, and 1999; James C. Tyler, Acting Director, 1986-1987; Martin O. Harwit, Director, 1987-1995; Donald D. Engen, 1996-1999; and John R. Dailey, Director, 2000- .
Revised: August 29, 2002