Gary Hillman and Jodi Smith of the Harvard Historical Aviation Society welcomed the arrival of a garage that will be used as a storage area and workshop. The space near Red Deer Airport in Springbrook will be used to restore a vintage Tiger Moth biplane to flying condition later this year.

Aviation historical society sets up first building as home

Springbrook’s Harvard Aviation Historical Society now has a home to call its own.

Springbrook’s Harvard Aviation Historical Society now has a home to call its own.

A used garage was carefully nudged into place at a site at the Red Deer Airport on Tuesday morning, marking a significant development for the dedicated group of aviation history buffs.

Society president Jodi Smith said having their own building will help boost the group’s profile and its fundraising efforts.

“I think when people see we are legit and have a home, that will start to raise some of the interest in what we’re doing and that visibly we are moving forward.

“It was a very long row to hoe. Many times we wanted to give up, but we had encouragement from Nanton and Edmonton to keep going,” she said, referring to Nanton’s Bomber Command Museum of Canada and Edmonton’s Alberta Aviation Museum.

“This is where they started as well. So we’re very excited to at least have a building we can call home as a starter.

“We are not losing track of our long-term vision of a much larger building but this is a great place to start.”

The society plans to house a museum in a replica of an H-Hut, easy-to-build structures that housed thousands of airmen who came to Penhold to train as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during the Second World War.

Meanwhile, the used two-garage trucked up from Calgary gives the group a place to store some of its artifacts and a facility to undertake one of its key projects — the restoring to airworthiness of a historic Tiger Moth biplane.

Red Deer Airport-based Cougar NDE Ltd., an aircraft inspection company, bankrolled the move and the society will pay it back over time.

“That leaves us with money to insulate and do all the work we need to do on this building and still move forward with the project and not sink all our cash into this building and then have nothing left,” said Smith.

Other major acquisitions are planned over the coming year. A T-33 jet trainer has been donated by the Alberta Aviation Museum and will be stored next to the new building.

Pilots who passed their training on Penhold’s propeller-driven Harvards would go on to fly T-33s at other bases as preparation for flying jet fighters.

A former radar array, which once served as an early warning system as part of the Pinetree Line on a hill east of Penhold, will be returning to close to its original home.

The 43rd Radar Squadron equipment was packed off to the Reynolds Museum in Wetaskiwin when CFB Penhold closed, said Gary Hillman, society vice-president.

The Cold War relic is now being donated back and will form part of the museum collection.

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