It started out as the passion project of a bunch of aviation enthusiasts.
Fifteen years on, Classic Flyers has taken off and there is no end in sight.
Somewhat of a Tauranga institution, Classic Flyers celebrates 15 years in the game today with an open day.
Covid-19 disrupted birthday plans on May 28 last year so the aviation museum decided to wait and host a summer "extravaganza" instead.
Looking at it now, it's hard to believe Classic Flyers was just a twinkle in the eye of some Tauranga businessmen pre 2005.
In 2000, several local businessmen including chief executive Andrew Gormlie initiated a project to explore the preservation of the large 1940s hangar on the Tauranga Airfield.
Classic Flyers sales and marketing manager Cory Tyler said while the hangar proved to be beyond repair, the project evolved and Bay of Plenty Classic Aircraft Trust was subsequently formed.
"They had thought about making a museum because the main goal was to preserve the history of aviation in New Zealand."
One thing led to another and in 2005, after months of fundraising efforts and obtaining exhibits, Classic Flyers celebrated its grand opening in its purpose-built facility on the aptly named Jean Batten Drive.
Coming up 16 years later, the museum is running out of space in its four hangars - one of which houses about 15 planes.
"Some are hanging from the roof, some on the wall."
A lot of the planes are donated to the museum, which Tyler says is how Classic Flyers continues to grow.
A Grumman Avenger - an American torpedo bomber developed initially for the United States Navy and Marine Corps - has recently been restored and is ready to make its debut.
The aircraft spent three years undergoing meticulous work after being left in a field for nature to take over.
"People just have them stuck in their hangar and want to get rid of it, or people pass away and their family want to do something with it.
"We get all sorts from planes to models, to clothing. We have a big archive."
One only has to look around the museum to realise there is no shortage of items as there is on space.
"Today Classic Flyers represents the aspirations of a group of passionate individuals to restore and protect the rich history of New Zealand aviation," Tyler said.
"The creation of Classic Flyers was funded entirely by these individuals with the foresight to generate revenue streams that assist in preserving aviation heritage now and into the future."
But planes are by no means cheap and restoring some of these artefacts can't be easy.
With 150 volunteers on a roster it all makes for light work, Tyler said.
"The main guys that restore the planes only come here on a Wednesday and Friday for about half a day, each day. We have about 40 or 50 of those mechanical guys who are down there doing that."
They include former mechanics, a couple from the Navy and even the odd lawyer or two, Tyler said.
Other volunteers work on the operational side of things. With a museum, gift shop, cafe and function rooms there is plenty to do.
Memberships are also available for unlimited visits at $72 a year. There is currently a roll of about 5000 members.
On top of all those helping hands, there are 15 full-time staff.
"We're a nonprofit organisation. So all the money is coming through the cafe, museum and function room upstairs.
"We go out and get a lot of funding from places as well but all the profit goes back into doing up these planes, that's how we get the money for that. It all pays for itself really," Tyler said.
When asked what the next 15 years would hold, Tyler said they would simply "carry on what we are doing" because what makes it work is the people.
"The people would be the big thing, you have to have the right people like that to push it."
What will the Open Day entail?
• The Restoration Hangar is open where people can get a sneak-peak at the museum's latest project - a walk through B-17 Flying Fortress bomber from WWII and guided tours of the archive department.
• Activities for kids include face painting, fire engine rides, pedal planes and the Torpedo Park adventure playground.
• Entry to the event on January 23, at Classic Flyers is gold coin and runs from 10am to 2pm.