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  • Aviation museum soaring

    Aviation museum soaring
    Attendance skyrockets at multi-purpose facility that aims to be self-sustaining in two years

    Susan Ruttan, The Edmonton Journal
    Published: October 23, 2007 5:35 am

    Article Link:

    Tom Hinderks wants city council to know just how much $125,000 can buy.

    The money, in the form of a city grant awarded last year, is transforming the once-struggling Alberta Aviation Museum into a hive of activity, said Hinderks, the museum's executive director.

    "There's so much more going on here," Hinderks said Friday. "The museum admissions this year will have jumped from about 15,000 to about 25,000 or 30,000 paid."

    He's convinced he can make the non-profit museum self-sustaining in two more years. But to do that, Hinderks said, he'll probably need another city grant this year similar to the one council gave last year.

    "Within the arts and heritage community, to talk about going self-sustaining is almost unheard of," Hinderks said. "But this is an extremely unique facility."

    Coun. Kim Krushell, whose Ward 2 contains the museum, said Hinderks has been working wonders since he became the museum's first paid executive director last year.

    "Tom has done an amazing job of bringing in groups," she said.

    "They're one of the few organizations that I think will pull off being self-sufficient."

    One key to that goal is renting out space in the museum, which is on Kingsway Avenue next to the City Centre Airport. Overall use is up nearly 50 per cent in the past year, Hinderks said.

    "This place is as busy or busier at night as it is during the day," he said.

    The museum rents space to several groups including cadets and veterans. Its large hall is used weekly by a group that flies remote-controlled planes and by a group with remote-controlled cars.

    Several thousand Grade 6 students come to the museum each year to learn about aviation.

    There are now five paid museum staff, including education director Dave Heathcote who was hired in the summer. Heathcote is setting up cockpit flight simulators that museum visitors will be able to use.

    New this fall are a series of computer stations at which visitors can learn about aviation. Each station is different: One is an interactive puzzle teaching the different parts of an airplane; another explains how jet engines work.

    Another addition is 10 mini-theatres -- large TV screens showing videos about some aspect of aviation history. Seats for watching the videos are old airplane seats; many of the videos were made by students at Victoria School of Performing and Visual Arts.

    Given that the facility is open 363 days a year, Hinderks said one or two more staff are going to be needed. Still, volunteers remain the heart of the museum, which has a large workshop where volunteers are restoring an old helicopter and other aircraft.

    The museum needs space to display its collection of historic aircraft.

    Hinderks is hoping for a government grant to expand the building. Provincial and federal governments will help with capital costs, but not with operating costs, he said.

    "This is the oldest licensed airport in Canada, maybe North America," he said. "There are many world firsts out of here, many aviation firsts. It is historically probably the most important airport in Canada."

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  • #2
    It is Edmonton's best kept secret. I have been there on numerous occasions. The restoration area is incredible.
    Noah's ark was built by volunteers...... The Titanic was built by professionals.


    • #3
      Good for Tom!

      Great story. I have been there many times.
      Man I would love to see that PWA 737-200 take to the skies again.
      The real shame is how little people really know about the history and significance of that airport. He can explain it better than anyone.


      • #4
        i really need to go by a few times a week and would love to go. Winter it will be.



        • #5
          Be sure to visit the gift shop. I picked up this unique key ring.

          Noah's ark was built by volunteers...... The Titanic was built by professionals.


          • #6
            I love this facility and the work that is done there.

            This is one of the reasons why I get upset when people try to reactivate the Muni debate. It is getting so annoying that full closure is becoming an option again. Leave 1 runway open, have the NAIT courses and the EFC et al have their pilot training, give this museum a chance to expand and be a vital part of a revitalized Kingsway and allow it to have both static and flying displays, allow for fly-in festivals, and the like.


            Keep trying to make it more than it is and upset people enough that they remove it entirely.

            Your choice Tony....Mark....Don....keep squawking, or shut up and leave a sleeping dog lie.
            President and CEO - Airshow.


            • #7
              Appreciate the good words about our museum.

              The collection is the 3rd largest in Canada
              - Canadian Aviation Museum (Ottawa)
              - Reynolds Alberta Museum, 3-4 times as many in storage as on display
              - Alberta Aviation Museum

              We are now nationally recognized for our efforts!!!

              We make extensive use audio visual, simulators, interactive and are increasing their use.

              That said...

              We operate on a total of 5 staff split between the Alberta Aviation Museum and the Edmonton Aviation Heritage Society.

              Everything else is volunteer....

              Yes like most heritage organizations we are underfunded. Thanks to the City of Edmonton's help over the last 2 years we have made huge gains but there is a long way to go.

              Come visit your history, learn about one of the huge influences that has made Edmonton great.



              • #8
                Idle interest...

                Have you been to the Aviation Museum in last year or two?

                Did you like what you saw? What would you like to see changed?

                While our first duty will always be to Edmonton's Aviation History we are constantly looking at ways to make it more entertaining and more user friendly.

                I'd like to know how we are doing in meeting those goals.

                Tom H


                • #9
                  Hey Tom:

                  Just off the top of my head...why not park the PWA jet in a more visible location. The last I was at the museum,it was parked out behind the hanger,and basically out of sight.
                  My.002 cents.
                  Noah's ark was built by volunteers...... The Titanic was built by professionals.


                  • #10
                    Thanks Barry N

                    Unfortunately our 737 is parked in the only area we have large enough to handle it.

                    The front parking lot is not possible and there are plans to someday add a large aircraft (very large, 4 engines with props) on pylons over the front lot

                    I see you have visited us and I am sure you have seen we are extremely pressed for space which is making things more and more difficult with the amount of Edmonton's story we have yet to cover.

                    On a more exciting note....our 737 opens for tours this Saturday at 11am and will be open Saturdays and Sundays (weather permitting) till September.

                    How did you like the rest of the Museum?

                    Thanks Tom H


                    • #11
                      How did you like the rest of the Museum?

                      In a word......excellent. What are the tour prices for the 737 ?
                      Noah's ark was built by volunteers...... The Titanic was built by professionals.


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the kind words BarryN

                        Appreciate the positive input and would like more input in general.

                        Visitors comments are important to insure we continue to improve nad make things more and more exciting.

                        Re: 737 tours

                        Regular museum admissions gain entrance to the complete facility. Admission to the 737 is by donation and the money generated goes direct to the 737 program to:
                        -Fund ongoing restoration
                        -Repair where and tear from tours and programming
                        -Keep the aircraft in ti's fully operational state.

                        The 737 is an expensive project, but import due to it's educational value and growing economic impact with TV and movie production.

                        So every bit helps...

                        Personal perspective.......the more kids we get in the cockpit the happier I am...most kids will never see the inside of an airliner cockpit, let alone have an enthusiast pilot with thousands of hours encourage them.

                        To me its all about the kids.

                        Tom H


                        • #13
                          Having never visited the museum, after reading this thread I will definitely be going there. Excellent work Mr. Hinderks.


                          • #14

                            Thanks for the kind words...and look forward to you visiting. Really like to hear what you think after you have had a chance to go through!!!