The Connellan Hangar was erected in 1940/41 and served as the main base of operations for Connellan Airways (later Connair) until 1968. Due to the limitations of this Townsite Aerodrome for larger aircraft operations along with the expansion of Alice Springs, Connellan Airways was forced to move to what is now referred to as the Seven Mile aerodrome and finally, the present airport.
The original Bellman Hangar, which occupied the site next to the Connellan hangar was moved to the airline’s new location. All operations ceased at Townsite by June 1968.
The Connellan Hangar was left derelict, and the landing strips disappeared under the rapid expansion of Alice Springs. The houses and road fronting the Museum precinct are sited on the old main runway. By 1977 little evidence could be found of the runways, and the Hangar was in a sad state of repair, and had become a haven for squatters and a target for vandals.
The founding of the Central Australian Aviation Museum in 1977 soon changed this situation.
A very active voluntary committee was formed following the tragic suicide flight at the Alice Springs Airport in January. It was not long before the Hangar was reclaimed, and work commenced on its renovation with the in-kind and monetary support of many people previously associated with Townsite, willingly paying $50 membership without question or guarantee. This terrific response allowed the Museum to rapidly find its feet and the doors were open in May 1979.
Vital financial assistance from the Northern Territory Government was crucial in establishing the Museum.
Since opening, many exhibits have been acquired, such as aircraft, engines, components, historical photographs, papers, and videos.
It is now possible for people to visit the Museum free of charge and find out for themselves the story of ‘Townsite Alice Springs’ and the role it played in the development of Central Australia.