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100 Years of Powered Flight in Canada

Five years ago, Wings introduced the series, “A Look Back.” During those five years readers have been brought a whole series of aircraft designed, built or flown in Canada and, while your humble scribe must admit that he has never designed or built any of them


February 2, 2009
By Wings Magazine

Topics

Canada’s Museums Tell the Story

Five years ago, Wings introduced the series, “A Look Back.” During those five years readers have been brought a whole series of aircraft designed, built or flown in Canada and, while your humble scribe must admit that he has never designed or built any of them, he can take pleasure in flying in many of them, with only one forced landing to his credit.

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The Canada Aviation Museum is situated on the former RCAF Station Rockcliffe, just east of Ottawa.


 

Many of these aircraft are to be found at various locations throughout the country and it is the purpose of this edition’s column to tell you about some of them. So varied and great is the quantity on display that it is impossible to mention all locations; instead we will bring you a potpourri of museums where the aircraft can be seen up close.
Our first article featured, quite appropriately, the Silver Dart, which on Feb. 23, 1909 became the first aircraft to fly not only in Canada but in the British Empire. The flight at Baddeck, N.S. was a short one but made history and today a replica of the plane may be seen in the international arrival area of Halifax Stanfield International Airport. A quick look at the Silver Dart and then the tarmac outside will remind you what giant strides aviation has made in precisely 100 years.
The Avro Arrow is arguably the most famous aircraft ever to take to Canadian skies. Thanks to the Toronto Aerospace Museum (but no thanks to the Canadian government of that day) a full size replica of the Arrow may be seen. When it is realized that Canada designed not only the aircraft but also the Iroquois, the jet engine to go with it, it is not hard to understand that in the 1950’s this country was at the cutting edge of aviation technology.
At the CAF Trenton Museum some 100 miles east on Highway 401 sits a rebuilt HP Halifax Mark III fourengined bomber of World War II days. Retrieved from a lake in Norway, the model, after undergoing years of careful labour, is in pristine condition in honour of all the RCAF bomber crews who flew it as part of No. 6 Bomber Group.
No tribute to aviation displays would be replete without mention of the Canada Aviation Museum situated on the former RCAF Station Rockcliffe, just east of Ottawa. On show is a veritable cornucopia of aircraft dating back to the early days of flying, including some that flew in battle against the RCAF.
On the other side of the Ottawa River is the collection at Gatineau P.Q., a mustsee on your museum visits, vicarious or otherwise. Mike Potter has invested millions into a flying display of vintage aircraft that is known the world over. Included in his stable are fl ying versions of the Battle of Britain stalwarts – the Hurricane and Spitfire.
Joining the above two on occasion is the Avro Lancaster from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport. The name refl ects the type of aircraft to be found there and restoration projects are constantly underway.
Other museums, big and small, are to be found everywhere. Winnipeg’s Western Canada Aviation Museum, Canada’s second largest, displays a Bristol Freighter, while their A-26 Invader is definitely worth a look. In Calgary, one time zone to the west, the city’s Aero Space Museum features, among other items, one of Burt Ruttan’s creations, along with the Sopwith Triplane of World War I vintage.
Still another time zone westward is the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island where you can see the Noorduyn Norseman and the Bristol Bolingbroke.
Have I missed some notable displays? Of course, but not intentionally! But I can conclude by reminding you that 25 odd miles from the editorial head office of Wings in Simcoe, Ontario is the country’s largest collection of flying Harvards in Tillsonburg. Nine of them in formation in the air is definitely a display! – By Raymond Canon

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AEA 2005 members Gerald Haddon (left) and Doug Jermyn in front of Silver Dart replica during its construction.


 

The Silver Dart replica
To commemorate the centenary of powered flight in Canada, a group of aviation
enthusiasts in the Niagara Peninsula are building a replica of the
Silver Dart, the first aircraft to achieve successful, controlled
powered flight in Canada and the
British Commonwealth. Piloted by flight pioneer John Alexander Douglas (J.A.D.) McCurdy, the flight took place off the ice-covered Baddeck Bay in Nova Scotia on Feb. 23, 1909. The Niagara group, known as the AEA 2005, commenced work on a full-scale, flying replica of the Silver Dart in 2005 which is scheduled to fly on the anniversary date of Feb. 23, 2009, from Baddeck Bay, N.S. Bjarni Trggvason, Canadian astronaut, aerobatic pilot and professor of aerodynamics at the University of Western Ontario will pilot the flight. To read more about the AEA 2005 group visit www.wingsmagazine.com and go to web exclusives, and www.silverdartreplica.com.

Hawk One – a flying tribute
“Hawk One” of the Centennial Heritage Flight will constitute a highly visible tribute to the commemoration of 100 years of powered flight in Canada in 2009. “Resurrect, Celebrate and Motivate” is the theme behind the refurbishment of a classic RCAF F-86 Sabre 5 (Canadair Serial Number 23314) in the colours of the legendary Golden Hawks aerobatic team that thrilled Canadians for five airshow seasons commencing 1959. Led by former Snowbird commander LCol Steve Will, the Hawk One team brings together a formidable group of highly experienced military and civilian professionals that includes one of Canada’s most famous aviators, astronaut Chris Hadfield. To read more about Hawk One, visit www.hawkone.ca.

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