Currently the Ashburton Aviation Museum Society has around 400 members, of whom 150 are locals. The aerodrome is a convenient refuelling stop for GA and vintage aeroplanes bound for Wanaka, the museum hosts the Sport Aircraft Association's biennial Great Plains Fly -in, and it gets an interesting international mix of visitors. The atmosphere of the place works its way deep into those who pop by, and it has members all around the world.
One result is that its profile isn't as low as it used to be — literally. The museum now has a shiny new hangar looming over everything, with construction and fitting out being completed early this year. While the financial commitment involved would have been terrifying back in 1974, Jim says that it actually wasn't such a mission as the first hangar, there being a lot more funding resources around these days, plus the museum did a deal with the Southern DC-3 Trust which needed a home after its eviction from Wigram.
The hangar was to have been opened on 25 February, but along with just about everything else between Ashburton and Rangiora this plan got knocked back by the earthquake, and it took the arrival of the A4 Skyhawk NZ6204's and assembly by the crew from the RNZAF that gave the museum a chance to invite local members and dignitaries out to the museum for a gala style opening. Official guests included The Minister of Defence Mr Wayne Mapp and our member of Parliament Ms Jo Goodhew.
We run a roster system for our museum guides and that gives us the ability to be able to open the museum to the public every day everyday between 1pm and 3pm. Wednesdays and Saturdays we are open 9:30am to 3pm.
Wednesday is workshop day with up to 20 members turning up most Wednesdays to help with the restoration projects on the go. A cuppa and a chat is compulsory and takes place at 10.00am.
Saturdays see another group turn up for the same routine.