Helsinki-Malmi Airport in Finland is a rare surviving example of pre-World War II aviation architecture, built for the 1940 Olympic Games, which were scheduled to be held in Helsinki but which were eventually cancelled due to the war.
It is wonderful place to explore and experience. Looking at the small airplanes taking off and arriving at the airport brings you as close to the romantic idea of aviation as you can possible get.
Malmi Airport, complete with its original hangar, terminal and runways, is still in use with about 40,000 landings per year. The area has been declared a cultural environment of national significance by Finland’s National Board of Antiquities. Its open meadow has considerable biodiversity and makes the nature path encircling the site very popular among locals. Helsinki’s new General Plan however proposes to fill the airport with apartment blocks to be constructed in the early 2020s, while the state is to withdraw its operations from the airport by the end of 2016.
Now the airport is on the list of the 7 Most Endangered 2016, a programme initiated by the leading heritage organisation Europa Nostra together the European Investment Bank Institute to draw attention to the most endangered heritage sites in Europe. It was suggested for the list by Europa Nostra Finland, supported by the Friends of Malmi Airport (FoMA). The civil society organisations want to keep the historic airport, and eventually want to propose the site for the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The airport and its surroundings can of course best be seen from the air, so I have to ignore my fear of flying and get into a 60 year old Cessna in windy weather to look at the runways from above. It is worth some anxiety to see this unique 75 year old airport the way it was meant to be. Flying from Helsinki back to Malmi, excitingly swinging in the wind like a kite, captures the true spirit of flying much more directly than any modern plane or airport ever could. It would be a true pity if it would be lost.