Wings Magazine

In celebration of the venerable Mosquito

Aug. 23, 2012, Calgary – From the first moment Patrick Anderson stepped over the plywood threshold and into the De Havilland Mosquito Bomber, he knew he had a serious job to do.

August 23, 2012  By The Canadian Press

Aug. 23, 2012, Calgary – From the first moment Patrick Anderson stepped over the
plywood threshold and into the De Havilland Mosquito Bomber, he knew
he had a serious job to do.

It was Nov. 1, 1944, and over the next 400-some days until the
Second World War's end, the 21-year-old 410 Squadron flying officer
would sit beside the pilot, clutching cumbersome radar equipment he
used to intercept enemy jets. His business-like resolve rarely
escaped him; he didn't give in to the pretentious glory of war _
romantic notions that have enchanted those looking for heroes.

"I won't say there wasn't any romance, but I didn't romance,''
the now 89-year-old veteran chuckled. "It was strictly business.''

His business was to dart over European war zones in the
all-wooden Mosquito, communicating with the ground controllers in a
"Punch'' and "Judy'' call-response meant to confuse the Germans.
If a blip on his radar screen turned out to be a foe fighter plane,
machine guns shot out the Mosquito's tail and the enemy "was toast
in a hurry."


"I was so well trained, it was almost automatic,'' Anderson
said. "The aircraft was just another tool to accomplish what they
wanted us to do, and that was to shoot down enemy aircraft.''

Anderson and other members of the Calgary Mosquito Society
gathered among hundreds of spectators on Aug. 18 at Nanton's Bomber
Command Museum of Canada for a rare public display of a Mosquito
plane in Alberta _ a plane volunteers are working to restore.

The aircraft, a 1946 Mosquito PR35, is one of a kind in Canada
and is only one of 36 other Mosquito planes in the world. It was
used after the war, in a pre-satellite era, to fly around the Arctic
doing photo mapping work, and is now owned by the City of Calgary.
The plane and all of its parts had been in storage for more than 40
years before finding its new home at the museum, where volunteers
overseeing the $1.6 million restoration hope they can have the
aircraft back in flying order before a five-year agreement with the
City of Calgary expires. Under the agreement, the city will use
taxpayer funds to match donations toward the restoration.

"The GPS and Google Maps that you use today – this was the
grandfather of that process,'' said Scott McTavish, director of the
Calgary Mosquito Society. "Where did we come from? There it is,''
he said, gesturing to the behemoth (as-yet-wingless) wooden plane,
constructed during a shortage of light metal alloys.

"We have to preserve what we have today in order to tell the
stories of sacrifice and heroism for the future generations,''
McTavish said.

To spark public interest in the restoration – with an aim to keep
donations flowing – the Bomber Command Museum welcomed hundreds
during a weekend celebration including Lancaster cockpit tours,
helicopter displays and tethered hot air balloon rides.

The museum's longtime volunteers didn't go unrecognized during
the events. For their dedication to the museum and for their efforts
in salvaging a Halifax bomber plane _ aluminum from which was used
to build a Bomber Command Memorial Centre in London, England _ Dave
Birrell, Bob Evans, Dan Fox, Karl Kjarsgaard and John Phillips were
awarded Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medals.

Senator Anne Cools made the trip from Ottawa to present the
medals _ one of her regular visits to the museum since 2009.

"It represents a labour of love from a large number of
volunteers," she said prior to the award presentation.

"I hope this will show that this museum is worthy of government
support," the senator continued. "This museum is a real product of
small town Alberta and it's to be admired, but the real important
message to be sent is that sacrifice and service are to be upheld
and celebrated."

As he rubs the roughed-up plywood of the Mosquito's frame,
pointing out the spot where he used to climb into the cockpit of a
wartime plane like this one, Anderson's sharp scenes of navigational
troubles and triumphs fly out of him. They never really left.

"You'd never forget those experiences," he said.

"I'm very pleased to see it here,'' he smiled, batting a hand at
the Mosquito.

"There's an awful lot of people in the modern generation that
have never heard of the fact that one of the fastest twin-engine
aircraft in the war was this airplane.''


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