New aviation museum to be built just outside Edmonton at Villeneuve Airport
EDMONTON – It’s the announcement aviation enthusiasts in Alberta have been waiting to hear.
“The Alberta Aviation Museum, working with Edmonton Airports, has secured a 13-acre site at Villeneuve Airport. This is going to be an all new museum. It’s separate, distinct from the Alberta Aviation Museum,” said Tom Hinderks, Executive Director of the Alberta Aviation Museum.
The new Alberta Flying Heritage Museum will be built at the airport, located just northwest of the city.
The announcement was made Saturday night, just one day after all tenants were required to vacate the City Centre Airport.
While the Alberta Aviation Museum will remain on site, all aviation activity at the airport will end November 30, meaning the museum will no longer be able to fly exhibits in and out.
“With all the changes that have happened, the Alberta Aviation Museum has to focus on Edmonton’s history. We just don’t have the room to do anything else,” Hinderks explained.
And so comes the Alberta Flying Heritage Museum, which will tell the broader aviation history of the province. Hinderks says it will offer a completely new, different, and interactive experience for aviation buffs.
“The Alberta Flying History Museum is designed from the ground up to be a living experience. Flying aircraft, activities on site, visiting aircraft like we used to do at the Alberta Aviation Museum. Plus, we’ll be delving deeper into a lot of other things… it’ll be engaging, it’ll be live.”
Perry McPherson, with the Villeneuve Airport Owners Group says it’s exciting news for the airport, and believes this location will be a perfect fit for the new museum.
“It’s adding a great cornerstone, a great anchor to what’s going to become a great airport for the region,” McPherson explained. “We just got an extension on our runway and instrument landing system. We do have a control tower here, which provides a great level of safety, increased safety. So there’s a good number of things, as to why they want to come out here.”
And while exciting, it will also provide an economic boost for the area.
“From economics, to having more people out here once again, educational opportunities, having the kids and schools coming out for aviation programs, it’s a very positive thing,” said McPherson.
Over time, Hinderks hopes to have up to 30 operating aircraft on site.
“They will live there. Everything from things like a Sopwith Camel is on the acquisition list in time. Right through to more modern aircraft like the Piper Super Cub,” he said with excitement. “So a wide range, all with Alberta history.”
There is no timeline yet as to when the museum will be built, as funding for the museum is not yet in place. But Hinderks says board members will be diligently working with the provincial and federal governments to secure funding as quickly as possible.
“It’ll move as fast as the funding. But we want to get things happening out there as fast as possible.”
After going through some uncertain times at the Alberta Aviation Museum over the past few years with the closure of the City Centre Airport, Hinderks couldn’t be more excited about the future and the new beginning this museum will bring.
“The two museums working together are going to create an experience like nothing else that’s in Canada.”
“There’s nothing more exciting than a big, nasty running airplane, let’s face it,” Hinderks said with a smile. “The opportunity to continue to make smoke and noise and create that excitement and continue to bring the romance and adventure alive, that’s something that you just can’t miss.”
Hinderks also hopes the new location at Villeneuve could eventually mean the return of an air show to Edmonton.
WATCH: Shane Jones speaks to Tom Hinderks about the new museum
The Villeneuve Airport is located in Sturgeon County, about 40 kilometres northwest of the downtown core.
With files from Cheryl Oates, Global News