HELP!!

"Canadian Air & Space Museum", aviation, aviation history, politics

The Canadian Air & Space Museum is in trouble.  They’ve been served with an eviction notice and need everyone’s help to persuade the Federal government to step in and overturn this demand from one of their own Crown agencies.

Click this link to see what you can do to help preserve this important guardian of Canadian aviation history.

Another one in the books

"Canadian Air & Space Museum", aviation, Wings & Wheels

wwhf01

Well the 5th annual Wings & Wheels Heritage Festival flew off into a beautiful sunset on Sunday night.  A great time had by all.  Thanks to all the dedicated volunteers who worked their tails off to make the event come off without serious incident.

Sure there were problems.  A press conference where nobody showed up.  Two aircraft brushing wingtips.  A carefully planned arrival of hundreds of bikes and cars that turned into a 3 stooges routine.  Heck, they’ve all faded from memory while the thousands of happy faces and compliments remain.

My feet have finally stopped aching and the sunburn has cooled down.  Time to start working on next year’s show.

New at the Canadian Air & Space Museum

"Canadian Air & Space Museum"

A couple of visitors have shown up at the museum in the last week.

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The first is a bird that has returned to the nest.  A De Havilland DHC-2 MK.1 Beaver owned by Four Seasons Aviation Ltd.  Registered as C-FETE this beaver bears construction # 1204 and she rolled off the line on December 6, 1958 which means she celebrates her 51st birthday tomorrow.

A testament to the rugged nature of all Beavers, FETE looks brand new even though she crashed in 1986. Rebuilt and re-registered in 1998, she continues to fly passengers.  5 years ago a water landing while the amphibious gear was still down caused another trip to the repair shop.

FETE will be with us over the winter and will return to service when the lakes and rivers thaw.

The Beaver was designed, built and flown from Downsview Airport and it’s long overdue that the museum should have one of these marvellous birds on display, even if just for a little while.

The second visitor will only be with us for a very short while.

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The Rocketbelt.  Science fiction made real in 1958 when the first SRLD (Small Rocket Lift Device) lifted a man off the ground for the first time.

Hard to control, the design was worked on over the years and finally got to the point that it appeared at Super Bowl’s and played a bit part in the 1965 James Bond movie “Thunderball”.

One of the Rocketbelt pilots was William (Bill) Suitor who will be on hand at the museum on December 12th at 4 pm to promote his new book, “Rocketbelt Pilot’s Manual” with a presentation and book signing.

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Here’s a shot of Bill in flight.  Powered by a combination of hydrogen peroxide and compressed nitrogen, each flight lasted no more than 30 seconds at a noise level of 130 decibels.

The entire concept was deemed to be a failure as the distance traveled in flight was no more than 120 metres.

The Rocketbelt is on loan from the Niagara Aerospace Museum located in Niagara Falls, NY and will be heading back home in early January.

Out with the new – in with the old

"Canadian Air & Space Museum"

Things are very interesting at the moment at the museum.  Fully half of the Directors resigned last week at a very spirited meeting.  The reasons for their departure should remain confidential but it’s enough to say that they represented the “new” museum. 

Over the last year, the museum has been moving in a direction that did not sit very well with a large proportion of the membership.  I’d hazard a guess that it was the majority.  This new direction involved changing the name from “Toronto Aerospace Museum” to “Canadian Air & Space Museum”.  What’s in a name?  Other than pissing off the Canadian Aviation Museum in Ottawa, it represented a fundamental change in the philosophy in where the organization was going and a wholesale devaluation of all the work that went into getting where we were.

A couple of weeks ago I resigned as Chair of the Wings and Wheels Heritage Festival committee citing my displeasure in the heavy handed control by the museum Executive Group and a general distrust of the ulterior motives behind this control.  Essentially, we were being tasked to design, plan and the show with one hand tied behind our backs.  All the work and very little of the important decision making authority.

To give you an idea of how bad things had gotten, take a look at this picture.

 

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Beautiful isn’t it?  The museum’s CF-105 Arrow replica and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.  A one in a million picture.  I’d love to say that I took it but I didn’t.  Ken Swartz from the museum Board took it.  I would have loved to have been there to grab my own shots but I wasn’t.  Why not?  Museum staff were forbidden to let any of the volunteers know that the event was taking place. A tangible example of how bad things had gotten over the last few months.  Even those of us who put in hundreds of hours a year (or more) are not considered worthy enough to know when something as important as this happens.  Things had to change!!

So now the museum sits at the crossroads. Most of those who represented the new direction are gone and the “old” timers are left to pick up the pieces.  We’re broke, we don’t really have a good idea of what certain members of the Board were doing and a lot of decisions have to be made in a very short period of time.

I’ve let it be known that I’m still committed to the museum and what it represents.  I’ll work on Wings & Wheels again.  I’ll continue to support with my time and my donations.  I’ll fight to keep the Canadian Air & Space Museum alive.  It’s too important to just let die.  There are too many stories to tell, history to celebrate and pioneers to honour.  It must survive.

Bjarni Tryggvason

"Canadian Air & Space Museum", aviation history, Space

 

bjarniWorking at the Waterloo Air Show yesterday I had a chance to meet Bjarni Tryggvason, former Canadian astronaut and pilot of the replica Silver Dart that will be coming to the Canadian Air & Space Museum later this year.

Bjarni flew on the space shuttle STS-85 as a payload specialist from August 7-19, 1997 where he conducted fluid dynamics experiments designed to examine sensitivity to spacecraft vibrations.  He flew 4.7 million miles in 284 hours and 27 minutes.

This year, Tryggvason has been travelling quite a bit slower.  The Silver Dart replica has been flown 4 times.  In between, he’s been flying as part of the Harvard team and teaching at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario.

To Bjarni’s left is Rod Jones, a member of the museum’s Board.  We talked for a few minutes about the flying conditions and some ideas about how to coordinate all the events across Canada like the Waterloo show and our own Wings & Wheels.

Thanks to Bob Bourke, fellow volunteer, for taking the photo and sharing it with me.

The Jetliner

"Canadian Air & Space Museum", aviation history

Two weeks ago, I attended the 60th anniversary celebration for the Avro Jetliner.  The highlight for me was meeting the chief designer, Dr. James Floyd, and having him sign the limited addition poster that was available.  Well, I finally got the poster into a frame.

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A beautiful image (and a very poor photo of it) depicting the beautiful lines of a revolutionary airplane.  If you look closely, you notice that the reflection on the runway is not the Jetliner but the Avro Arrow.  Dr. Floyd was also chief designer of the CF-105.

Meeting a legend

Donald Lawrence caught a shot of Jim signing the poster for me.

Tribute to a living legend

"Canadian Air & Space Museum", aviation history

Jim Floyd Canadian Air and Space Museum

Today at the Canadian Air & Space Museum we spent the day celebrating the 60th anniversary of the first flight of the Avro C102 Jetliner.  Special guest of honour was Dr. James Floyd, the chief designer of both the Jetliner and the CF105 Arrow.  Dr. Floyd is a very spry 95 years old and still can tell a great story.  Yes, he still hates the decisions made by C D Howe and John Diefenbaker which destroyed both projects.

The Avro Jetliner was years ahead of its time and the cancellation drove a stake into the heart of the Canadian commercial aircraft manufacturing industry.

Here we see Dr. Floyd being greeted by Wayne Barrett, chairman of board of directors of the Museum.  A great turnout for a great airplane and a great man.

The upcoming weekend

"Canadian Air & Space Museum", aviation

Friday winding down and the weekend’s on the horizon gleaming with promise.  Spending the next 2 days at the museum.  Saturday is prep day for Sunday’s luncheon celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Avro Jetliner.

Avro XC-102 Jetliner - picture from author's collection

The Avro C102 Jetliner was the world’s 2nd jet powered passenger aircraft.  The de Havilland Comet beat the C102 by only thirteen days! CF-EJD (-X), pictured above, took to the air on August 10 1949 from Malton Airport.

In April 1950, the Jetliner carried the world’s first jet airmail from Toronto to New York in 58 minutes– half the previous record (c.340 miles, 352mph). The flight was highly publicized and the crew was welcomed with a ticker tape parade through the streets of Manhattan.

Just like the CF-105 Arrow, the C102 project was ordered stopped by the Canadian government.

Chief Designer of both aircraft, James C. Floyd, will be at this Sunday’s event.  Looking forward to some interesting stories!