The association to establish the museum was formed in 1985 and the museum opened to the public in 1996.
A monument consisting of a series of seven black granite stelia was constructed in 1996 dedicated "To the glory of God and in perpetual remembrance of these listed hereon." The memorial which is in memory of all Newfoundland Airmen who lost their life while serving with the Allied Air Forces in the Second World War (1939-1945) was erected by the 125 (Nfld.) Squadron and Allied Air Forces Association and was subscribed by a grateful public. Stele 1 contains the Airmen's Prayer with the Royal Canadian Air Force crest engraved on the top. Stelias 2,3,5,6 are lists of honour naming 187 Airmen and one Airwoman who lost their lives during the Second World War. Stele 2 is engraved with the Sunderland Flying Boat representing coastal command. Stele 3 is engraved with Supermarine Spitfire representing fighter command. Stele 4 is engraved with an Airman in full flying kit and the crest of the 125 (Newfoundland) Squadron Royal Air Force, 1939-1945. Stele 5 is engraved with a Mosquito of 125 SQDN. representing night fighter and various other commands. Stele 7 is engraved with the poem "High Flight" and the Royal Air Force crest. An inscription from a poem by Ena Constance Barrett is engraved at the bottom of the monument "The Sun Gone Down | A Cross Of White | Forget Them Not.".
Aviation has played a crucial role in the development of Gander. The original airport, then known as the Newfoundland Airport, was completed in 1938 with the first landing on January 11 of that year. It was a major refueling stop for transatlantic flights starting during the Second World War (RAF Ferry Command and later RAF Transport Command) and continuing until the increased range of commercial jetliners eliminated the need for refueling. Gander earned the nickname "Cross-roads of the world" at the height of its civil aviation role. Gander was used for test flights of the Concorde starting in 1974.