In 1903, the Wright Brothers succeeded in flying their Wright Flyer I.
It was the world's first powered flight.
After that, aviation technologies rapidly started to be put into practical use in the United States and Europe.
Japan was not an exception for such trends; and in July 1909,
the Provisional Military Balloon Research Association (PMBRA) was established for the purpose of aviation technology research.
The first project undertaken by PMBRA was the selection of a site to be used as an airport.
Chosen as candidate sites for the new airport were Tokorozawa, Ohtawara, around Utsunomiya, Odawara, and Shimo Shizuhara.
Tokorozawa was ultimately selected because of its accessibility to Nakano-machi, Tokyo, where at the time the balloon squadron was stationed,
and of the fact that geographical and climate characteristics were ideal for flying balloons.
On April 1, 1911, the PMBRA Tokorozawa Flight Test Center, the first airfield in Japan, was established, which had a 50 m wide, 400 m long runway, a hangar, and a weather observation facility. At first, the airfield only housed 4 aircrafts: planes by Henri Farman, Hans Grade, Bleriot, and Wright Brothers. From April 5th through April 15th of that year, the Tokorozawa Airfield performed its first flight practices; and early in the morning on the first day of practices, the Henri Farman aircraft piloted by Yoshitoshi Tokugawa, a captain in the Imperial Japanese Army, recorded an altitude of 10 meters, a flight distance of 800 meters, and a flight time of 1 minute and 20 seconds. It was the first flight succeeded at an airfield in Japan.
Since then, flights at the airfield kept breaking their own records. Also, at the Tokorozawa Airfield, early airplanes and airships were created, for example, a military plane named "PMBRA Build No. 1," the first aircraft built in Japan; and training for pilots were conducted. Until 1945 when WWII ended, Tokorozawa had greatly contributed to the development of Japan's aviation technologies.
Thus, Tokorozawa came to be known as the "birthplace of Japanese aviation." Although the Tokorozawa Airfield was occupied by US forces after WWII, aggressive efforts by citizens for the return of the airfield resulted in nearly 70% of it being returned to Japan by 1982. Additionally, to hand down Tokorozawa's contributions and its position as the birthplace of Japanese aviation to future generations, researching and collecting data on Japan's aviation history were started; and in November 1990, Saitama Prefecture began the construction of the Tokorozawa Aviation Museum. The museum was completed and opened to the public on April 3, 1993. Today, the old airfield site has been converted to the Tokorozawa Aviation Park, which is managed by Saitama Prefecture. The Tokorozawa Aviation Museum has become a symbolic landmark of the park, and been popular with visitors and local residents.
|Building Area||3,878.5 square meters|
|Total Floor Area||5,260.7 square meters|
|Construction||Reinforced concrete and steel-frame structure with Teflon panels|
|Lobby||425.9 square meters|
|Exhibition Hall||2,732.4 square meters|
|Large Scale Movie Theater||IMAX projector, 204 seats, flat screen|
|(Screen Width)||20 meters|
|(Screen Height)||15 meters|
|Training Room Capacity||80 persons|
|Hangar and Warehouse||1,247 square meters|