The Darwin Aviation Museum (formerly known as Australian Aviation Heritage Centre) is an accredited Northern Territory tourism attraction hosting 30,000 visitors each year.
The Darwin Aviation Museum is the commercial arm of the Aviation Historical Society of the Northern Territory.
The Society was established in December 1976 by a group of enthusiasts who sought to preserve aviation artefacts and World War II aircraft salvaged after the destruction resulting from Cyclone Tracy.
This objective was subsequently broadened to include the exploration and documentation of World War II aircraft crash sites and the recovery and preservation of aviation relics related to the defence of Darwin during World War II.
All funds raised by the Society come from ticket admission and shop sales at the Darwin Aviation Museum and surplus funds are reinvested in the operations and management of the Darwin Aviation Museum and to meet the cost of restoration projects and other Society objectives.
The original museum was first opened to the public in 1988 and was located in Gardens Hill Crescent, The Gardens, in a pre-World War II navy victualling building leased from the Northern Territory Government.
It was manned by volunteer Society members and admission was on a “gold coin” donation basis and the exhibits on display were limited.
In the late 1980s, the Society undertook lengthy negotiations with both the United States Air Force and the Northern Territory Government to obtain a surplus USAF Boeing B-52G Strato-fortress bomber and to build a museum to house and display the aircraft.
These negotiations were successfully concluded, and on 2nd June 1990 the new Darwin Aviation Museum, located 7km from the Darwin CBD on the Stuart Highway at Winnellie, was officially opened with the fully refurbished B-52G bomber on display for the first time.
The name of the museum was later changed to the “Australian Aviation Heritage Centre” until 2017.
During the 25 years since the original aviation museum was opened, the Society has expanded its collection of aircraft, aviation artefacts and war relics, to the point now where the Darwin Aviation Museum is home to one of the largest collections of aircraft and aviation artefacts in Australia, outside of government managed or supported facilities.