• Martin Zeilig

Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada

With its sweeping and welcoming glass exterior, the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada creates an almost palpable sense of anticipation in a first time visitor.


Terry Slobodian, President & CEO Of the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada. Photo credit: Martin Zeilig, Voxair Photojournalist.

Those expectations are more than fulfilled after a tour of the state-of-the art facility.


The museum was purpose built, noted Terry Slobodian, President & CEO of the RAMWC during a tour on June 1, 2022.


The old museum was located in an old hangar near the airport.


This splendid new 86,000 square foot edifice, which is on four acres of land, is at 2088 Wellington Avenue near the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport.


“Construction began on April 27, 2020,” Mr. Slobodian said.


“We took possession on August 4, 2021.”


Its doors opened to the public in May.


“We are committed to the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to facilitating a safe space for reconciliation to occur,” said Mr. Slobodian, while standing beside a colourful mural with greetings in French, English and seven Indigenous languages painted by Indigenous artist Leticia Spence, who won a contest in which a number of Indigenous artists submitted their work for the mural.


“We’re very proud to have her art grace our front entrance.”


“Even before its establishment as a city, Winnipeg was the epicentre of trade and commerce for Indigenous nations and travellers headed for all points north.


“When air travel landed in Western Canada in the 1920s, Winnipeg continued as a gateway for development, eventually becoming the operational headquarters for each of Canada’s first three national air services. From aerial survey and mapping to cargo and passenger transport, to innovation in cold weather flying and rocket science, Manitobans have led the way both nationally and internationally. We recognize the importance of aviation history to Manitobans and have been collecting historically significant artefacts for decades.


“We have been curating our large collection of more than 90 historic aircraft, 70,000 artefacts, texts, and photographs for more than 40 years.


“We started with a small group of visionaries and are now proud to have one of the largest aviation heritage collections in Canada.”


Mr. Slobodian observed that 24 aircraft are on display in the museum with about half of them being bush planes.


“That’s where the story of western Canadian aviation started in the 1920s and ‘30s,” he said.


Planes were either restored, donated, or purchased for a low cost, he added.


A number of former RCAF aircraft are on display, including outside a CF-101 Voodoo, with a special coating of paint to ensure it stays in mint condition, noted Mr. Slobodian; a sleek and shiny CF104 Starfighter, on loan from Steve Pajot, a former aircraft engineer, who, along with some friends, meticulously restored the plane over several years; a Tudor jet trainer, painted in Snowbird colours, suspended at an angle from steel struts in the ceiling; and, Canadair CL 84 Dynavert, which could fly both as a fixed wing aircraft and a helicopter, among other military aircraft.


“When kids are here they want to do their school project on the Starfighter,” Mr. Slobodian said.


He added that the Starfighter, which was retired from service in 1987, held three world records simultaneously— fastest aircraft, fastest climb and achieving the highest altitude.


“We’ve had a partnership with the RCAF since we first started in 1974,” Mr. Slobodian said.


The RCAF has helped us with many search and rescue of aircraft. They are very much part of our family.


We’re proud to display military aircraft. We’re also proud to have people consider a career with the RCAF.


We also welcome all active duty and staff of the RCAF to come and enjoy the facility.”


“The Founder’s Observation Lounge, to honour the museum’s five founders, can be found on the second level, along with a webcam aimed at the airport runway and people can come here and sit all day if they want to watch aircraft,” Mr. Slobodian said.


There’s also the Galaxy Exploration Zone where children can jump and run and climb and crawl in a space themed playground.


“Parents can sit and watch their children and enjoy a beverage with a muffin or something else from the concession stand,” Mr. Slobodian said.


Planes on display at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada. Photo credit: Martin Zeilig, Voxair Photojournalist.

He added that active military members receive a 10 percent reduction in entrance fees to the museum.


For further information, visit the museum website at https://royalaviationmuseum.com or call (204) 786-5503

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