The 1960s and early 1970s were busy times for the Connecticut Aeronautical Historical Association.
After incorporating in 1960, the group continued to grow both in membership and acquisitions. Although their first aircraft, the Bancroft, burned in a fire in early 1960, CAHA continued to collect aircraft and engines for the newly formed organization. In 1962 CAHA voted to create a museum to display its growing collection. The organization was already using several buildings given to them by Bradley Airport, but these were only suitable for storage. Most of the aircraft collection remained outdoors. Extensive research was done into what would need to go into a museum, though a lack of funds prevented further expansion at that time.
In 1967, CAHA purchased an inflatable air shelter, or air dome, which was erected on land along Route 75. On most weekends during the spring and summer of 1968, visitors could see aircraft both in the air shelter and outdoors. By the end of the summer, over 8,500 people had visited what was then known as the Bradley Air Exhibit. However, on November 10, 1968, the air dome suffered irreparable damage from a snow storm that struck the area. The Bradley Air Museum continued to operate as an outdoor exhibit until Building 170 was acquired in 1976.
CAHA founding member Igor Sikorsky, Jr. and former Operations Director Charles Horner talk about the early years of the Bradley Air Museum.