History briefly

Vesivehmaa airfield

When the airplane types moved from floatplanes to planes on wheels and military and civil aviation activities developed and increased in the 1930s, there was a need for new airfields. In 1937 four surveying flights were flown from Utti, based on map research, to find a suitable place for a new airfield. A survey flight to Vesivehmaa in Asikkala took place on June 1st,1937. The plane was de Havilland Moth (MO-116) and the pilot major Ensio Kivinen and the observer was mechanic Lahtinen.
Vesivehmaa was chosen to be the place for the new airfield and the construction work was started in the summer 1939. The work progressed quickly, and the first plane landed on the airfield on May 28th, 1940. The plane was a Fieseler Storch, the pilot lieutenant Oskari Haaki and the passenger on the flight was the Finnish Air Force Commander J.F. Lundqvist.
The Finnish Air Force used the Vesivehmaa airfield actively as a base and training field for fighter, bomber, reconnaissance and supplement squadrons from 1940 until 1945. After that the Air Force and its planes have still had a significant role in the activities in Vesivehmaa. The Air Force decided in 1948 to move the wooden and fabric-covered planes, which had been removed from active use, into a storage hall at Vesivehmaa. A total of 44 airplanes were placed in Hangar number 4.

Päijänne-Tavastia Aviation Museum

In 1974 the planes from Hangar 4 were moved into the present Hangar 1. During the decades 19 planes have been moved from the Vesivehmaa hangar to be restored or conserved. Only two of them (I.V.L. D 26 Haukka and I.V.L. K.1 Kurki) have been brought back. The majority of the restoration and conservation projects on the Vesivehmaa planes have been carried out by the Aviation Museum Society and its Tuesday Club, which consists of volunteers. The restoration work has been done at the Finnish Aviation Museum and most of the restored planes are now in the Aviation Museum’s collection and on display there.
In the beginning the arrangements in the Vesivehmaa storage hangar were taken care of by the local aviation activists and later by the Lahden Ilmasilta -club (“Lahti Airlift”), established in 1962. The Aviation Museum Society had the operational responsibility during 1969-1996 and after that the Finnish Aviation Museum Foundation until 2005. The storage hangar in Vesivehmaa, which contained the historical and the old Air Force planes, was nominated as the Päijänne Tavastia Aviation Museum on March 1st, 2005. The Finnish Heritage Agency authorized the nomination and the dedication ceremony took place on May 19th, 2006.

There are 13 airplanes and almost 300 other larger objects on display in the Päijänne Tavastia Aviation Museum. The museum hangar is almost in the original condition as it was taken into use by the No. 24 Squadron (later No.24 Fighter Squadron) in August 1940. Three other hangars originating from the same time are still in aviation use but they have been completely or at least partly renovated. Hangar nr 1 is technically in the poorest condition and in the need of thorough renovation to preserve it for the following 80 years.

More about the Vesivehmaa airfield can be read in the publication Vesivehmaan lentokentän historia – Osa 1, Sotavuodet 1939–1945Vesivehmaan lentokentän historia – Osa 1, Sotavuodet 1939–1945 (in Finnish), published by the Aviation Museum Society in 2019 when Vesivehmaa celebrated its 80 years of operation. Vesivehmaa is also described in the book Kauhavan apu- ja leirikentät 1930- ja 1940-luvuilla (in Finnish), published by Ketterät Kirjat Oy.

If you are well familiar with the civil aviation history at Vesivehmaa, or interested in doing research work on the topic, or if you have material you would like to give to the future documents describing the aviation activities there – please contact Lahti Ilmasilta, the Aviation Museum Society or the publication company Ketterät Kirjat Oy.