Originally started in 1987 as a private collection by local businessman Peter Vallance, the museum became a registered charity in 1999 with the objective of providing awareness of local aviation history and as an educational centre for the general public, particularly for local students and schoolchildren. A close relationship exists between the museum and the Central Sussex College which uses the museum's facilities to provide practical training for the students taking aerospace courses.
The museum has a varied collection of aircraft, aircraft engines and over 500 aircraft models. The museum also has displays and artifacts related to local aviation history particularly Gatwick Airport. Aircraft may run their engines during museum open days.
The museum has been in dispute since July 2011 with Mole Valley District Council concerning planning permission, as despite its co-location with Gatwick Airport, the council has refused permission for a permanent museum site due to a concern over the height of the proposed new building and the location within the Metropolitan Green Belt. Peter Vallance lodged a planning appeal against the decision in January 2012, which was dismissed in June of that year. On 14 January 2013 Peter G Vallance died whilst undergoing an operation on his heart. Since that time the museum has been run by a charitable trust set up by Peter to cover this eventuality.