The news is out

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A few weeks ago, I hinted at some changes coming to the Toronto Aerospace Museum.  Well, now that YouTube has the word, I guess I’m safe to share it.  We’re being renamed as the Canadian Air & Space Museum

Changing the scope of the museum is seen as vital to our continuing growth.  The video describes some of the plans to expand the size of the museum and create theme areas. This will cost a lot of money so a fundraising campaign is underway.

The name change was made official at a special membership meeting on Tuesday and will be introduced at a press conference on February 20th.  Not everyone is happy with the change but a majority of the members who were present agreed with the Board’s direction.

As Chairman of the Wings and Wheels Heritage Festival committee, I’ve been waiting for this to be confirmed so that we can begin contacting vendors, aircraft owners and the press to get the word out about this year’s event using the new name and logo.

image (Yes that’s a crappy copy of the logo – best image I have so far)

I couldn’t be more excited about this new direction and I’m proud to play a small part in the museum’s operations.

Museum update

aviation, Flying Is Fun

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about the Toronto Aerospace Museum.  I’m spending a lot of time there and some big things are happening – some I can talk about right now and others that will have to wait.

I’m honoured to have been chosen as Chairman of the Wings and Wheels Heritage Festival committee.  Wings and Wheels is our largest public event and we’re hard at work planning for the 4th year.  Mark your calendars for May 22-24 and come on out to see me at Downsview Park in Toronto.

Wings and Wheels 2008As the name suggests, the festival is comprised of two main components.  Wings covers anything that flies, or used to fly.  Military, civilian and general aviation is always well represented.  Last year, the Canadian Forces joined us with a CF-18 Hornet, a CP-140A Arcturus, a Tutor trainer in Snowbird colours and a helicopter. 

Vintage Wings of Canada brought down their Waco Taperwing and Bombardier brought over a few of their planes.

Wings And WheelsOn the Wheels side, we had a nice collection of custom and classic cars from local clubs as well as some military vehicles and vintage motorcycles.  I think this picture really captures the theme of Wings and Wheels.  In 2009 we’re really going to try to play up this side more.

Of course, one of the stars is always our Arrow.  The only full-size replica of the famous CF-105 fighter.  It’s the most spectacular piece in the museum’s collection and is always a crowd pleaser.  Everyone is amazed at the size and the quality that shows the thousands of dedicated volunteer hours that went into its construction.

Avro CF-105 "Arrow"

We’ve already got some incredible aircraft coming but I’ll hold off on making any announcements until we’re ready to officially release the news.

There’s other museum news coming that I’m not at liberty to disclose at this time.  Suffice it to say that we’ll be moving in new directions that can only enhance our reputation as one of the finest aerospace museums in North America.  Stay tuned.

Happy Birthday George!

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Yesterday, I spent a most enjoyable day helping to celebrate the 90th birthday of Mr. George Neal.  I wrote about Mr. Neal a couple of weeks ago and his contribution to Canadian aviation and it was great to see so many people come out to a party at the Toronto Aerospace Museum.

Greetings from the Premier of Ontario, Prime Minister of Canada and Lieutenant Governor of Ontario (on behalf of the Queen) were given.  A cake was presented and a general good time was had by all.

I spent a few hours helping set things up and one of my tasks was to work on a Powerpoint presentation that played throughout the festivities.  Made up of pictures of Mr. Neal and his aircraft, it also contained transcripts of emails from wellwishers from all around the world.  Most poignant were those from ex-military pilots who credited the de Havilland Caribou with saving their lives in Vietnam. 

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de Havilland Canada built the DHC-4 Caribou for the US Army where it was designated as the CV-2.  With the remarkable STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) capabilities developed for the Beaver and Otter, the DHC-4 was ideally suited for operations in jungle conditions where “runways” were hastily hacked out of the fast-growing vegetation. George Neal was the test pilot for the prototype and production models and the pilots credit him with demonstrating the incredible properties that convinced the Army to purchase more than 170 airframes.

A live auction was held for the chance to go flying with George in his vintage Chipmunk.  I seriously considering getting myself an early Christmas present but the bidding for this once in a lifetime opportunity quickly outstripped my budget.

The chance to celebrate a living legend does not come very often.  It was an honour to be a part of this happy occasion. 

Just catching up

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Busy couple of weeks with travelling, election watching and just general “work is a bitch”’ stuff. 

I really hope that I’ve finished the last business trips for 2008. By the calculations over at FlightMemory, I’ve flown 24 times (not counting the flying lessons) and I’ve logged:

  • 39,263 miles (63,188 kilometres)
  • 106 hours in the air

This makes 2008 my busiest year yet.

Speaking of flying lessons, the travelling put a real damper on my time so I’ve just cracked the 10 hour threshold which leaves me at least another 10 hours before I can solo and a total of 35 to go until I can go for my license.  I also got way out of sync with the groundschool schedule so I restarted the entire course this last Thursday night.  Hopefully I can go all the way through this time without a break.  Luckily the Brampton Flying Club allows you to take the course as often as you want.

The economy may be tanking but that only means that my company becomes much more aggressive in the pursuit of new business.  I then get called on more often to provide product support for presentations and tenders and that’s on top of the day-to-day problems that require my attention.  Very tired at the end of the day.  Today (Saturday), for instance, I’m working on a system upgrade from home.

I’ve only been to the Toronto Aerospace Museum a couple of times in the last few months so projects are starting to build up.  I should be there today but no such luck.  Next week for sure.

The historic US elections this week kept me glued to CNN and the net when time permitted.  You all know which way I was leaning and I’m still overjoyed at the outcome.  Watching the Republican party bring out their knives afterwards has been fun as well.

Now comes the long slide into winter.  Lots of things to keep me occupied so I don’t think I’ll be suffering from cabin fever.

A special day

aviation, Flying Is Fun, photo

avilland DH87B Hornet Moth (C-FEEJ)

I dropped into the Toronto Aerospace Museum today just to see what was going on and to see if any projects had been planned for me while I’ve been travelling.  Luckily, I brought my camera.

Today we took possession of a 1956 de Havilland DH87B Hornet Moth that has been purchased from George Neal, a member of the museum.

A sad and happy day 

Mr. Neal (middle) flew his airplane in for the handover and it was truly a special and bittersweet day.  Here, he poses with Claude Sherwood (museum CEO, left) and Paul Cabot (curator). The Moth may never fly again as it’s scheduled to go on permanent display.  Mr. Neal, at the tender age of 90, sold the aircraft to finance a project where he’s building a Hawker Fury.  He’s a member of the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame (inducted in 1995) and holds the distinction of being one of the first Canadian pilots to be qualified to fly the RCAF Vampire, our first jet fighter.  Neal’s testing and demonstrations of aircraft such as the Beaver, the Otter, and the Caribou, allowed them to be successful around the world . He retired in 1983 as Director of Flight Operations of de Havilland Canada.

The day was superb, the winds were light and George performed a perfect landing in a perfect example of this rare airplane.

Another picture in the wild

Flying Is Fun, photo

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I loved this picture as soon as I saw it in the viewfinder.  Vintage Wings of Canada’s WACO Taperwing watching the sun come up in the hanger at the Toronto Aerospace Museum.  One of the best parts of being a volunteer there is the chance to roam around before the public shows up.

I’m honoured that Vintage Wings of Canada saw fit to include this their online article “Eye of the Beholder”.

Decision time

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It’s time for me to get off my ass and take the plunge.  I’ve decided that I’m going to begin the process of getting my private pilot’s license.  Of course this would have been easier, and a whole lot cheaper, if I’d done it 40 years ago but I’m not getting any younger.

My passion for aviation is out of control.  Working at the Toronto Aerospace Museum, attending aviation society meetings and just generally loving being in the air lead to one conclusion.  I need to learn how to fly.

The poor suckers who are going to be tasked with teaching this old dog a neat trick are the unlucky instructors at the Brampton Flying Club.  Located about 1/2 hour from home, they’re a long established operation so they must know what they’re doing.

The process isn’t cheap and probably isn’t that easy.  Basically, it’s 15 week ground school through 45 hours of both instruction and solo flight plus a medical and finally an exam.  At the end of it all hopefully I’ll end up the proud owner of a license.  No plane, just the license.  I don’t want to know what even a very basic Cessna would cost.  Renting one costs just over $100 for every hour that the prop is turning.

Ground school starts in July.  I hope to take the introductory flight this weekend.  Wish me luck!

UPDATE: 1pm tomorrow and it’s off into the wild blue yonder!!

Hard at work on vacation

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Off on vacation this week but it’s hardly a rest.  For the last 2 days I’ve been hard at work helping prepare for this weekend’s 3rd annual Wings and Wheels Festival at Downsview Park in Toronto.  This is the major fundraiser for the Toronto Aerospace Museum.

Wings And Wheels

Lots of displays of classic and modern aircraft, automobiles and motorcycles.  Today was media day and the professional photographers asked for a grouping to show the idea behind the festival without the need for words.

While walking from the museum to the main display hanger, I heard a semi rumble up behind me.  Imagine my surprise when I turned to see this.

A pleasant surprise

A Canadair CT-144 “Tutor” jet in the distinctive Snowbirds colours.  Seems the Canadian Armed Forces sent this trainer down from Camp Borden with a crew to put it together for display.  The Snowbirds are known the world over for their incredible aerobatic displays performed in aircraft that were built in the mid 60’s.

The crew of 5 along with a local crane operator spent all day unloading and assembling the Tutor inside the museum and they were still at it when I left this afternoon.

Hard at work

Tomorrow (Friday) will be just as busy as more aircraft arrive including the massive C-177 Globemaster transport.

Avro Arrow Collection sells for $36,800

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A collection of memorabilia once owned by a A. V. Roe employee was sold by auction today to an undisclosed private buyer. Story

Containing company documents, photos, telegrams and models, the collection was purchased by a Canadian who said,

“This is a collection that belongs in Canada. All items will remain in
Canada. In due time, after study and inspection, interested
parties (reporters, historians) will be contacted.”

At least one museum was expected to take part in the bidding, possibly the Toronto Aerospace Museum where I work part-time. The artifacts would have made a nice display alongside our full-size replica.

 Avro Arrow Replica

From my collection, here’s a shot of the first Arrow in flight over Toronto.

Avro CF-105 Arrow

It’s great news that this collection will stay in Canada. 

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

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The Old WarriorWe celebrate all those who went to war.  Especially those who did not return or have passed on from illness or old age.

I attended the Remembrance Day ceremony in the park by the house this morning.  The participants get younger every year.  From Vimy Ridge all the way to Afghanistan, we gather to thank all those who fought and still fight under the Canadian flag.

Generations

A grandfather plays with his grandson waiting for the ceremony to begin.  It is vitally important that the old teach the young why we come together once a year in memory and celebration of the contribution that so many men and women have made.

Canada has such a proud military history that we need to cherish.  The thousands that died in the First and Second War reach out from their graves to welcome those who are still dying today in the defense of freedom.

Copyright by Ken MistI guess my work at the Toronto Aerospace Museum is responsible for how different I feel about Remembrance Day than in years gone past.  Being surrounded by reminders of how fragile the aircraft were has made me realize just how brave these men and women were.  The tail gunner’s turret from the old Lancaster bomber sits at the entrance to the restoration room.  I wouldn’t be able to fit in it and a brave young man sat in it for hours on end – cold, cramped and alone.  He could see the fighters diving at him, he could feel the flak bursting all around him.  To think that he not only did this once but day after day is amazing.

The YoungSo, we gather and we remember.  We bring our children out in the cold and ask them to stand quietly.  They stare at the young cadets who form the honour guard with their ancient rifles barrel down.  They listen to the chaplain read the prayers.  They sing the National Anthem.  What is going through their young minds?  What questions do they ask their parents and what answers do they have to give?

They shall not grow old

As we that are left, grow old

Age shall not weary them

Nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun

And in the morning

We will remember them

More pictures are available here