Aviation museum enthusiasts eager to begin construction

Organizers planning an aviation museum east of the Red Deer Regional Airport want to build an H-Hut on the site by next year.

Organizers planning an aviation museum east of the Red Deer Regional Airport want to build an H-Hut on the site by next year.

The $200,000 project will be a replica of the building that servicemen would have stayed in when they took part in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during the Second World War. The facilities were called H-Huts because they looked like the letter H from the air.

Jodi Smith, president of the Harvard Historical Aviation Society — the group taking on the project — said they hope eventually to build a $5-million museum that would showcase aviation history, with an air control tower and an indoor theatre.

However, the society was recently offered a plane from the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton that they can receive in the spring and so the need for a building became immediate.

For that reason, Smith said they have decided to move forward with a smaller building to start.

The H-Hut will give them enough room for a restoration shop, museum space, gift shop and some rental space.

Next year — when the society hopes to have the H-Hut built — has historical significance because similar structures would have started going up on the site 70 years ago.

Smith said she thinks the H-Hut will give people a sense of what used to be on the site.

“I think a lot of people feel if they want to do research they have to go overseas and they don’t,” Smith said.

“The history is right in our backyard and I think we either don’t know or we lose sight of the importance of what happened right here.”

Red Deer County has already supported the plan, leasing land to the society at a cost of $1 annually for the 10-acre site. The concept plans are being drawn up for the building and plans for fundraising are underway. The Harvard Historical Aviation Society has hats and T-shirts available on its website at www.penholdbase.ca and plans to sell calendars starting soon that will feature planes showcased at the Air Affair earlier this year.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

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