The Aviation Museum of New Hampshire evolved out of a group called the New Hampshire Aviation Historical Society (NHAHS), which held its first meeting on Saturday, Feb. 18, 1995. Harold Buker, Jr., then director of the New Hampshire Division of Aeronautics, had received a call from a friend involved with a Maine historical society. His interest piqued regarding how this might involve transportation and aviation history, Buker put together a meeting with a representative of that society, which about 25 people attended. The first meeting snowballed into a decision to start a similar kind of group in New Hampshire, and NHAHS was born.
With an expanding and passionate membership base, NHAHS needed to fulfill one of its primary goals of finding a more permanent home. The lengthening of Runway 6-24 at Manchester Airport forced the need to increase the span of the Safety Zone where the 1937 terminal building the museum now occupies was originally situated. This triggered an ultimatum to either demolish the 1937 terminal or move it out of the Safety Zone.
The Art Deco terminal building was obviously of historic value, having been built by the Works Progress Administration. A passionate group of aviation history supporters was able to raise about $1 million to rescue it from destruction.
Moving the building across two active runways required great coordination, and the decision was made to move the building with the tower still in place. The move of the building began at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 27, 2004, and was only the third time in United States’ history that a structure was moved across active runways. Shortly thereafter, the terminal was safely resting on its current foundation and ready for internal repair work and renovation to begin.
Over twenty-five years ago, a small group of people found something that they had in common. Over time, that initial idea grew into a place with physical roots and big ambitions. Today, the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire has expanded to include the Slusser Learning Center in 2011, and focuses on cultivating the aviation and aerospace pioneers of the future in addition to preserving the rich history of aviation in the Granite State.