NHILL Aviation Heritage Centre has big plans for the coming year, as the museum hops back on the tourist trail and opens its doors to the public.
The Nhill Aviation Heritage Museum will host an Engine Start day on April 10, where people can come down and see the museum's planes running and making noise.
The Nhill aerodrome has been in operation for more than 100 years, with the first plane landing on November 7, 1919.
The aerodrome and museum have a long and storied history, which Aviation Museum historian John Deckert has dedicated to preserving.
Mr Deckert said the Nhill aerodrome was a crucial part of Australia's aviation history.
Early planes could not travel from Melbourne to Adelaide without a stopover, so Nhill was chosen due to being a mid-way point between the two cities.
The aerodrome was host to many of Australia's early aviation pioneers, including Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from London to Australia, and Kingsford Smith, who made the first non-stop crossing of the Australian mainland.
Many came to the aerodrome to participate in air races, which were popular in the 1920s and 1930s.
During the second world war, Mr Deckert said the aerodrome was used as a RAAF base.
"When the war was declared, England couldn't train enough people to fight a decent war. They came up with this idea where they would use commonwealth countries like Australia, New Zealand, Rhodesia, and Canada," he said.
"Nhill was used to train aviators, about 10,000 navigators went through Nhill. They would come through here and go on to Canada where they would do specialised training on modern aircraft and then go on to bomber command."
The museum features select memorabilia from the young men and women who went through the base during the 1940s.
The Nhill RAAF base was a starting point from which airmen during the second world war would receive specialised training and serve in the war.
Mr Deckert said the commonwealth training system was highly advanced for its time.
"In my opinion, it was possibly one of the things that won the war. Then numbers a quite enormous, hundreds and thousands of men were trained at these centres," he said.
The base in Nhill was no longer needed after the war. Mr Deckert said soon after the allied victory, the base was picked apart and sold wholesale.
In 2009, the Nhill Aviation Heritage Committee started works to make a museum at the former base.
Since then, the museum has relied on its committed volunteers to preserve and educate about the region's aviation history.
Mr Deckert said the museum project has been gratifying, personally and for the community.
"As far as I am concerned, it has been the most rewarding public body that I have ever been connected with. It has been a great experience. I hope I can live another 10 years or so and I can see what happens."
Fellow Nhill Aviation Heritage Board member Len Creek said the museum still has many more projects on the horizon.
"We are both going to need another lifetime to get through these projects," he said.
Mr Creek said the museum is aware that many of its members are getting older and hopes to see the newer generation embrace the region's history.
"It has really been a success of the heritage centre. Our initial president was very strong, he said that this shouldn't be a handful of old people interested in it," he said.
"If it is going to be a success, it is going to have to be a community-owned and supported organisation. That was the emphasis from the start.
"As far as possible, we have included the community and events and information, and they have been very supportive.
"It has been unbelievable the support we have had from the community."
For more information, visithttps://www.nhillaviationheritagecentre.com.au/.
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