Fifteen participants of the European Heritage Congress held in Turku 11-15 May arrived at Malmi to get acquainted with the airport on Monday 15 May. The journey from Turku to Malmi was made in the style of 80 years ago on a historic DC-3 airliner operated by the DC Association. The international expedition got an impressive feel of early air travel as a part of the flight was made at an altitude of just 600 feet due to cloudy weather. The faces of the participants beamed with enthusiasm, and the trip was described as having gone very smoothly.
The distinguished group of visitors included among others the European Commission’s Director for Culture and Creativity Michel Magnier and the Council members of EU’s leading heritage organisation Europa Nostra, Erik Schultz and Karel Loeff. Of the numerous invited Finnish policymakers, Member of Parliament Matti Vanhanen and City Councillor Björn Månsson were present.
The practical arrangements at Malmi were in the capable hands of Maria Holmberg of the Friends of Malmi Airport. After FoMA’s Chairman Timo Hyvönen’s welcoming address and a toast, the heritage experts got acquainted with the historic airport from the early days of commercial air traffic guided by FoMA’s Seppo Sipilä.
The authentic 1930’s aviation milieu with its original details, the aircraft and the lively aviation activities sparked great interest in the visitors, and for a reason: according to Europa Nostra’s international team of experts, Malmi is the best-preserved of the three early airports that still remain in aviation use in Europe.
The European Commission’s Michel Magnier described the visit beforehand as an excellent opportunity to better understand what kinds of challenges valuable cultural heritage sites may come against at national level. In the press conference held after the tour, the Chairman of Europa Nostra Finland, architect Tapani Mustonen told that Malmi Airport had been on the agenda also in the Turku congress, the most eminent annual cultural heritage event in Europe.
Member of the international Europa Nostra team focusing on Malmi Airport, Erik Schultz, who has previously visited Malmi, emphasized that it is a precious European cultural heritage site and exceptional also in still being a busy site of industrial heritage: “It combines the quality of Finnish modern architecture with one of the very first international airports that is still intact.”
With the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 approaching, Europa Nostra has sent a message of the significance of Malmi Airport to the Parliament of Finland, a country celebrating its 100th anniversary, and to Helsinki City Council. As Mr. Schultz summed it up: “It is in the interests of Europe that an airport like this is saved.”