Airways Museum Virtual Tour - Introduction
Flight Service console'Bright Display' radar consoleradio navigation aids

Why the Airways Museum?

Think of it this way. There are railways and roadways, so why not airways? Herein lies the theme of the Museum, which is to show how the invisible radio highways of the sky guide aircraft safely to their destination, and keep aircraft separated from one another. It is our aim to explain how this complex system has evolved.

The Airways Museum Collection

The Airways Museum collection had its origins in 1973 when it was realised that much airways equipment that had been in service since the War, or before, was being replaced and would soon disappear altogether if not preserved. The purpose of the collection is to preserve for posterity example of airways equipment which were once in common use.

In doing so, the significant contribution of Australia over the years to the development of safe and reliable civil aviation is also highlighted. The collection contains a number of Australian innovations and inventions that have led the world, and of which we can be justly proud.

Although always known as the 'Airways Museum', funding for many years only covered the cost of transporting and storing obsolete equipment for the collection. In a very few cases money was also made available for restoration work, usually by Departmental apprentices. The equipment comprising the collection came from the many Departmental airports and remote navigation and communications sites around Australia.

With the breakup of the Department, commencing in the late 1980s, the Airways Museum collection was eventually inherited by the newly-formed Airservices Australia, considered to be the most appropriate branch of the former Department to retain it. A review of priorities in 2000 resulted in museum consultants from Deakin University confirming the significant historical value of the collection. As a result, Airservices Australia continues to significantly fund the Airways Museum, which is operated on its behalf by the Civil Aviation Historical Society (CAHS).

The Airways Museum was first opened to visitors in 1997, although much work occurred over 2002-3 to re-organise exhibits following a consultant's report on the most appropriate layout. A dedicated band of volunteers continue to work on the restoration of equipment and the improvement of displays using audio-visual materials from the extensive CAHS archive.


Our Home

The Airways Museum is housed at Melbourne's Essendon Airport in Building 44, an old workshop built in 1942 for Australian National Airlines (ANA). The buiding was subsequently taken over by the Department and in 1984 the basement became used to store the collection of equipment which now comprises the Airways Museum.

The building is today owned by Essendon Airport Ltd. and the Airways Museum rents the space. Click here to read about the Great Flood of 2010

The photo below shows a rather shabby Building 44 in the 1980s. At that time the Airways Museum collection was stored in the building but it was not open to the public.


(Photos: CAHS collection)


Airways Museum Virtual Tour


If this page appears without a menu bar at top and left, click here