The building that The Hangar Flight Museum calls home was originally built in 1941 as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and was a drill hall for the #37 Service Flight Training School.

The BCATP was developed to train Commonwealth airmen and women. Canada was chosen as the main location for training because of our access to resources such as fuel, our industrial capabilities and close proximity to facilities in the United States, our wide open skies, and the low likelihood of being a target of attack. Over 130,000 airmen, including 17,000 women, graduated from the program. These recruits trained long and hard at the many facilities across Canada, including Calgary.

The drill hall was one of the 7,000 buildings built in support of the BCATP. It was used for various activities, including sports. One of the airmen who likely walked the floor of the drill hall was Commander Peter Middleton, the grandfather of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge. Commander Middleton was stationed in Calgary from 1942 to 1944.

Left vacant and unused for a time post war, the building eventually became home to Bullock Helicopters. Bullock Helicopters performed oil exploration, search and rescue, and transport for seismic crews and their equipment. 

One of the first tasks Evan Bullock and his team undertook was to tear up the original wooden floor and pour a concrete slab in its place. Also, during their tenancy, Bullock Helicopters built the area that currently features the Museum gift shop. At the time it was used as their reception area and administrative offices.

Museum Fast Fact! Visitors to the Museum often comment on the beautiful stonewall that is featured in the gift shop. The Bullock pilots would return from trips up north with unusual stones and fossils they discovered. This collection was eventually assembled into the Museum’s showpiece wall. 

Other companies also hung their shingles above the door, the last of which was Kenting Helicopters. In 1985 they offered Museum’s founder Bill Watts the use of the hangar for the Aero Space Museum. Fortunately for the fledgling organization, Kenting Helicopters had paid rental on the building for the remainder of the year and granted that investment to the Museum, allowing them to take occupancy rent free for their first few months of existence. 

During the decades since 1985, and as the Museum’s collection grew, the facility had to change to keep up. In 1997, new hangar doors were installed, enlarging the entrance for the aircraft and allowing more of the collection to be housed indoors. This move was the first in a series of major changes to the Museum’s infrastructure over the next few years. In 2015 new windows were installed, the exterior of the roof was improved, a new HVAC system was installed, and the collections storage area was renovated. In 2020 a new humidity system was installed and in 2021 truss repairs occurred to strengthen the original wood truss system in the now 80 year old building. In 2021 we also replaced the fabric covering on our Tent Hangar following a severe snowstorm in late 2020 that damaged the fabric. 

Coming up next! We are currently in the process of renovating our Lancaster and Memorial Rooms to modernize them for school and youth program bookings, as well as facility rentals. We are looking forward to future construction at our front entrance next to make wider entry doors and a more accessible building. We will be announcing upcoming fundraising initiatives to complete accessibility renovations. 

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support The Hangar by donating toward our truss repair fundraiser