Magazine

GayCalgary® Magazine

http://www.gaycalgary.com/a5757 [copy]

Alberta Aviation Museum

Travel by Steve Polyak (From GayCalgary® Magazine, August 2018, page 36)
Alberta Aviation Museum
Image by: GayCalgary
Alberta Aviation Museum
Image by: GayCalgary
Alberta Aviation Museum
Image by: GayCalgary
Advertisement:

As far back as I can remember, airplanes have always have fascinated me and when I was a child (and even now as an adult,) I would eagerly watch the planes while I was at airports.  While covering events at the Edmonton Inn and Conference Centre, formerly the Ramada on Kingsway, I had seen three small planes out on display in front of the Alberta Aviation Museum. I was excited to know that close by, I could stop in and check out an airplane museum and explore it with marvel like a kid.

The museum is in an old 1941-1942 air hangar that was used for pilot training during the second world war. The area around it was part of the Edmonton Municipal Airport which closed in November 2013 and the land is now slowly being re-purposed into residential. Since the building is one of the few remaining old hangars, it has been given protected status as a municipal and provincial historic resource.

Looks can be deceiving with the front entrance of the building being on one side of the building, so you might think that the museum is small with only a couple aircraft on display. Once you enter the building, you quickly realize how big the space is. The museum boasts of having over 20 aircraft on display indoors, as well as several much larger and current aircraft along the outside of the building too.

The main area has displays set up around most of the planes giving the visitor an image of how the plane might have been used or place it in historical context. Volunteers take hundreds of hours of work restoring each aircraft to look close to brand new or the best shape possible depending on what parts are still available. Some of the aircraft are rebuilt from wreckage found or were replicas built by volunteers from blue prints and photos of the original.

Seeing the displays set up showing the original pilots beside or in their crafts, made me appreciate that these people were pioneers in their fields long before things like black box recorders, GPS’s, computer control, and all the safety features we take for granted today. Each of the planes had a purpose, from military to transportation, cartography to exploration. Inside a room along one of the walls as well as other areas, you can see more information and artifacts from these early pilots.

There are some interactive displays set up, so you can touch some of the planes or interact with some parts of it. One of the displays is of a regional airline that would travel between Calgary and Lethbridge. The plane was designed in the late 1930’s for passengers and cargo and was later repurposed to be used for the military. It was interesting to see a version of the plane being used for commercial passenger use in the late 60’s.

There is a staircase set up, so you can get inside the plane. Anyone who complains on how bad airline seats are today, should see how it was for flying back in the 60’s for short halls. When I was checking it out, for a moment, I thought this display was set up for kids. Even though it is two seats per row, so no one is sitting right beside you as they would on a commercial plane today, you also cannot walk perfectly upright, and it looked like the seats were also closer to the ground too. With my body size, camera bag and that the plane at rest is at an incline, I decided not to try to sit down since I did not know if I would have been able to get back up without crawling out of the seat to the door. So, I am now very happy with the airplane seat conditions that we have today in modern airplanes.

Only about half the space in the building is used to display the planes, the rest of the building is divided up with a restoration area where incoming aircrafts or artifacts are restored prior to going on display in the museum. The other area is a large hall for events which can house up to 400 people. I think it is very cool that they push the museum to be used as a backdrop for weddings and birthday parties. It could be a used as a future event venue for the LGBTQ community, a themed world war two same sex couple dance or something like that.

Outside of the museum has larger aircraft which are newer than the craft inside the building. I guess these machines can take the outdoor elements better than the ones that are found indoors. Prior to the airport closing, they did have also on display a Boeing 737-200 that was part of the Pacific Western Airlines fleet on display. They needed to fly it out while a runway existed since if the museum did close as part of the airport closure, it would have been difficult to move it later. It is in storage at an airport north of Edmonton which is disappointing since I did really want to see it and they did give tours inside the plane.

Walking through the museum and seeing how airplanes have changed over 100 years, as well as the different variations was very exciting to see. You don’t need to be an airplane enthusiast to visit the museum since there is a lot of rich history that you can learn while walking through the displays. There are guided tours which are about 90 minutes long. The Alberta Aviation Museum is worth checking out while you are in Edmonton.


Related Articles

Contributor Steve Polyak |


Locale Edmonton |


Topic Museum | Travel |


Photo Gallery Edmonton | Travel |


(GC)

Image by: GayCalgary
Image by: GayCalgary
Image by: GayCalgary

Comments on this Article