Lagest Attendance Ever at July Event
Our July 27/96 “Salute To Those Who Served” had an attendance of nearly 4000 visitors. In addition, the evening banquet was served to 550 NLS members and guests from across Canada. This was the largest attendance ever to any Society function in our ten year history.
The day started early with a breakfast served by the local Lions club at the community hall next to the museum. Those attending then spent the rest of the morning looking over the special displays, both in and out of the museum.
The afternoon schedule included a parade, unveiling of a special memorial with a plaque, a flypast of two CF-18’s and several vintage aircraft including the B17 Flying Fortress “Sentimental Journey.” The evening banquet and dance to an 18-piece orchestra ended a full and enjoyable day.
This year’s museum function included an evening banquet which was attended by 550 guests and was the largest ever hosted by your Society to date.
Local caterer, Elwood Dikrow, did a fabulous job of catering the evening meal. The head table consisted of many VIP personalities such as: WWII ferry pilot Marie Wright; Chris Terry, National Aviation Museum director general and his wife Victoria; Master of ceremonies Duke Warren and his wife Melba; Milt Harradence, well known Calgary lawyer and judge, also honorary CO of 416 Sqd. and his wife Catherine. These are just a few of the special guests.
Marie Wright spoke to the banquet audience about her experiences during the war, including Lancasters. She ferried aircraft from storage depots to the different squadron bases in the U.K. and to the continent after D-Day.
Chris Terry had some very kind words for the NLS and its air museum.
Brian Dean read a message from Ontario NLS member Lyle James, former Lancaster pilot. He presented a framed version of Lyle’s story of BCATP incident where airman Lyle James and his Tiger Moth trainer were shot at by angry duck hunters!
The “Oath,” an 18-piece band played 1940’s tunes and the dance area was well used after the speech making was completed.
All in all the whole day went off great and the evening event ended it in fine style!
As a tribute to all “Those Who Served” in the Allied Air Forces during WWII, your Society unveiled a stone cairn on July 27, 1996. This has a permanent bronze plaque that commemorates the service of all the men and women who served in any way in the Air Forces.
The memorial cairn with its bronze plaque is a premanent addition to the museum grounds. The Society has had many visitors comment on how appropriate and fitting it is to have this as a prior introduction before entering the museum.
Society member Jim Weirsma spent many hours making sure the memorial was ready for the July 27 event. Jim had volunteered to head up the disignated construction of the memorial and he personally supervised much of the work, including making forms for the concrete base and the pouring of this.
The design of the bronze plaque also came about because of a drawing made up by Jim Weirsma after a discussion at a planning meeting for the July event. Jim is a relatively new resident of Nanton, who moved here so de could help out at the museum. He has completed several projects besides the memorial, including repainting of the highway signs and rebuilding of a display cabinet.
Your Society believes that this monument to Those Who Served is indeed a significant addition to the museum grounds. It should serve as a permanent reminder to the visitor of the tremendous efforts of all who contributed to the air war which very likely shortened the time frame of the war.
Your museum now owns a North American Harvard training aircraft. Harvard 20419 was formerly a display with the Canadian Museum of Flight and Transportation (CMFT) at Langley, BC. CMFT recently had a flying Harvard donated to them and so #20419 became surplus to their museum.
Your Society learned that #20419 was available for sale through a CMFT newsletter that was e-mailed to other air museums across Canada in September. Your curator contacted them and agreement to purchase was made with CMFT.
Because of the distance involved to inspect #20419, one of our lecal members, Burt Ayles, contacted an acquaintance, Tom Conroy, who flys Harvards ot Airdrie, AB. Tom in turn contacted AME Fraser MacLean at Langley, who inspected the Harvard for NLS. Because of Fraser’s Very exacting report your Seciety purchased the Harvard for the museum. Our THANKS go to Burt Ayles, Tom Conroy, and Fraser MacLean for their assistance.
Harvard #20419 is a static aircraft display, but is a complete example of the WWII trainer.
This aircraft, which came off the assembly lines at the Canada Car and Foundry Ltd., Montreal, Quebec, on October 4, 1952, adds one more vintage trainer aircraft to our collection. While the fuselage is that of #419, a post war Mk.IV, somewhere it acquired Mk.II wings! Anyway, it is representative of the Harvards that were used in the BCATP.
Since the arrival of #419 at our museum, it has had a proper pair of main undercarriage wheels installed. The wings and empennage have not yet been reinstalled because of a lack of space in our museum building. With the beilding expansion now underway we will soon have room to install these components.
Once all the Harvard components were placed in the museum, it really brought home the fact that we had indeed ‘run-out-of-room’ for things with wings! Anyway, that is being corrected.
Our THANKS go out to the Harvard’s former owners, the Canadian Museum of Flight and Transportation (CMFT) at Langley, B.C. They were most cooperative and helpful in getting the aircraft disassembled and loaded for the trip to Nanton. Our best to ‘Gogi’ Goguillot, George Proulk, and all at CMFT who helped to get the Harvard on the road.
THANKS also to our good corporate friend Mullen Trucking Ltd, who hauled the aircraft to Nanton for the price of the fuel and Neil McClaine for supplying wheels and undercarriage parts. It is because of support like this that our museum continues to thrive.
Air Mail Flight
A commemorative air mail flight took place on August 1/96 bringing 500 specially stamped envelopes from Edmonton to Nanton with several stops in between.
Alberta museums which participated were: The Reynolds Air Museum – Wetaskiwin; the Alberta Aviation Heritage Museum (AAHM) – Edmonton; Calgary Aero Space Museum (CASM); and the NLS Air Museum. Other aviation groups in Edmonton and Red Deer also were part of the exercise.
The Reynolds Museum and AAHM were the sponsors of this flight and the mail was carried in a 1943 Beech 17, Staggering aircraft that had been immaculately restored by RAM. The pilot was Alberta Aviation Hall of Fame member Jack Reilly. This aircraft was chosen as its speed enabled the airmail flight to be completed in one day. Early air mail flights were carried by much slower aeroplanes.
At each stop a VIP passenger was taken on board and stopped at the next town. A special second aircraft returned the visiting dignitaries to their home town later in the day. The final leg of the commemorative flight was from Calgary to John Green’s airstrip at nanton. Calgary’s deputy mayor, Sue Higgins, was the VIP who travelled to Nanton to be met by the town’s Mayor Jim Carr.
The 500 special envelopes were stamped by special Canada Post stamps at Edmonton and Nanton only. Nanton’s postmaster and deputy postmaster were on hand at the airstrip to personally stamp each letter! Fifty of these letters were also sgned by the VIP at each stop.
Each museum received STAMPED ONLY envelopes and 10 that were STAMPED AND SIGNED. These collector items are available for sale at the respective museums. STAMPED ONLY letters are $5 each and those that are STAMPED AND SIGNED are $25 each. Our museum still has a few of these letters for sale as the newsletter goes to print.
Another display which will be in place for the 1997 tourist season, will conisist of a collection of plaques with the crests of all the Canadion squadrons from #400 through #451. This excellent collection was donated to the museum by Don Vance of Marysville, BC.
Don, who is retired from the RCAF, also donated other items which includes several books and hundreds of photos. Many of these items will go on display in the near future.
Our grateful thanks go out to Don for adding these special items to our collection.
Fleet Fawn 264 is the first aircraft in the NLS Air Museum to be restored. The display now is about 98% complete and stands assembled with wings and fuselage complete, covered with new fabric. The museum’s Kinner B-5 radial engine is presently hung on the aircraft. This will eventually be replaced with a seven cylinder Civet 1A engine to return the Fawn to its original Mk. 7C configuration.
With its bright BCATP yellow paint with red, white, and blue roundels and black numbering this display is an eye-catcher! Of course there are still a few minor things to do. One item that is missing is the canopy and we are still in need of finding these components.
This project’s completion is due mainly to the funding by: the Lethbridge Foundation, the Alberta Museums Association, and the Wartime Pilots and Observers Association. The Society extends a grateful THANKS to these groups for their assistance.
Main contributors to the restoration work were, Charles and Hugh Logie, SAIT students Greg Morrison, Randy Wynia, Debbie Israel, and Jeff Winger, who were employed in the museum’s shop over the last three years. Wood work, fabric, and painting was done by AME, Ron Jackson and his wife Julie. NLS extends a grateful THANKS to all who helped.
First and foremost, THANKS goes out to the late Ernie Oakman, his wife Agnes, and their family of Stewart Valley, Saskatchewan, who donated the antique aircraft’s components.
by Dan Fox
The annual meeting of the Candian Aoronautical Preservation Association (CAPA) was held on November 1-3/96, at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (CWH) in Mount Hope, Ontario. Attending on behalf of the Society were myself and one of our directors, John Dozeman. This meeting was attended by representatives from most of the air museums across Canada.
John and I drove to Edmonton where we took free flights that had been arranged by the Candian Armed Forces with Candian Airlines Int. We came home the same way.
Some twelve museums and organizations were represented with 30 delegates present on Saturday. This was the day that CWH rolled out the only airworthy Lancaster in North America and put on a private flypast just for us! It was incredible! The sound of those four Merlins sent shivers up our spines as they warmed up, then again as they roared overhead.
Our group had previously toured Warplane Heritage’s new $12 million museum, which contains dozens of airworthy warbirds. Some of these are: B-25 Mitchell, B-26 Invader, PBY Catalina, Firey Firefly, Corsair, Tiger Moth, Harvards, etc.
The hospitality and food was magnificent as was my first view of Niagara Falls on Sunday after our business meeting in the morning.
Yours truly has been elected treasurer for another year, with Al Hutchin of CWH as the new CAPA president. Byron Reynolds of Wetaskiwin is the new vice-president and Michael White of the Atlantic Canada Museum is secretary/newsletter editor. The cross country nature of the new executive is indicative of the spirit of cooperation amongst peers present during the whole conference. Everyone had a great time, accomplished a lot, and is looking forward to the 1997 CAPA meeting in Ottawa.
BAZ’s REAR GUNNER-Daughter Visits NLS Museum
Margo Bazalgette Middleton (Cameron) McGreadie was a visitor to the museum on July 20/96. Margo is from Dundee, Scotland. She came as a guest of NLS member Terry McDonald of Calgary.
Margo’s two middle names were given to her in honour of two Victoria Cross pilots with whom her father, the late Doug Cameron, served as a tail gunner. Douglas Cameron was one of the surviving crew members of Ian Bazalgette’s ill-fatted VC flight in which Baz lost his life trying to land his Lancaster in an attempt to save his two wounded crew members.
Dan Fox was present to show Margo through the museum. She was very interested in the museum’s operating rear turret in which her father spent many hours during WWII. Dan started the turret up and Margo had a chance to be a rear gunner!
Margo made an entry in the museum’s Crew Logbook before leaving stating, “I’m so proud to have been here and seen the reconstruction of Baz’s Lancaster.”
We hope Margo will visit us again.
The Bristol Blenheim IV project was upgraded during the summer/96 season by first year AME students Charles McKenzie and Amitoj (Amit) Minhas, from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), who were hired to work in the museum shop for the summer.
The crumpled cabin section was removed from the fuselage. All the flight controls, instrument panels etc., were taken out, dismantled, cleaned, repaired and reassembled. The Society’s second cabin (obtained from the British Columbia Air Museum at Sidney, BC) was gone through and repaired where necessary and the restored components from the old cabin installed in it. Charles and Amit spent many weary hours on this project. However, it now looks like “somebody cares.”
Charles undertook to install new plexiglas in the restored cabin and nose area and most of it was shaped and fitted before he left to attend his second term at SAIT.
Music and the Lanc
On Wednesday, May 8, 1996, the Air Museum became a concert hall. Seated under the wing of the Lancaster more than 300 people were treated to a performance by “The Nanton Winds.” This is Nanton’s senior high school band. The “Dessert Concert” began with those present enjoying the desserts provided by the Band Parents group.
“This is a very special night,” said band director Howard Miller. “It feels very much like a French cafe in the 1940’s.” There was a definite cafe atmosphere to the evening as the audience gathered around small tables under the starboard wing of the Lancaster.
“The museum is honoured to have these talented local youngsters assembled here tonight,” said Society President Dan Fox. “It’s a tribute to this community and to teacher/director, Howard Miller, to have one of the best school bands in Alberta performing here tonight.” The Nanton Winds were silver medallists at the National Music Competition (NNC) in Calgary in 1995. They competed at the 1996 NNC in Toronto a few weeks after dessert concert and won silver in one category and bronze in another.
The concert had originally been scheduled to accommodate a group from Powell River, B.C. When that band cancelled, the local high school’s intermediate band was called on to fill out the program.
The audience was treated to a sampling of the music the two bands have been working on this year. Miller and his bands didn’t display all their work, however, preferring to hold some back for the school’s June concert.
It’s really gratifying to have so many people turn out,” said Dan Fox. “We are very lucky to have so many talented musicians in our community.”
Proceeds from the dessert concert went towards the senior’s band trip to Toronto. Your Society hopes to make this an annual event.
Snowbirds Fly Over Nanton
The Canadian Airforce Snowbirds took time out of their schedule to fly over Nanton on Friday, July 12, 1996. Capt. Dan Robinson, son of Tink Robinson and Judy Armstrong of Nanton, flies plane four, which is directly in the middle, behind the lead plane. The flight payed tribute to the eightieth birthday of Dan’s grandfather, Howie Armstrong, who is one of the three gentlemen who brought Lancaster FM-159 to Nanton in 1960.
To Ride in a B-17!
by Lyle Miller
This past summer I was afforded, due to luck and circumstance, the chance to fly in a former American Army Air Corps B-17. This Flying Fortress has been restored and maintained by a group of Americans and others in the Confederate Air Force. On hearing that the Lancaster Society of Nanton had contracted to have the B-17, Sentimental Journey, to be part of the fly-over at this year’s dedication ceremonies, held in July, and that there was at their disposal two seats for passengers, I obtained use of one of these seats, thanks to Dan Fox and Dave Birrell.
My main interest in this flight was that my father, Thomas W. Miller, was a belly gunner on a B-17 during the last two years of World War II. As with many of his generation, his military service during the war was one of the defining moments of his life. I thought that to experience a little of what was so important to him would be an opportunity that I should not miss. I believe that I was right. For me it was a wonderful experience.
Right or wrong, I believe that this part of my father’s life was so important to him, I left one of his two wartime dog tags hidden in the airplane (it won’t cause any problem), where hopefully it will remain as long as the plane survives.
Local Charolais Cattle breeder, Lyle Miller, helped out with the cost of having the B-17
in the flypast that was part of the July 27 Salute to Those Who Served.
The Society extends a grateful THANKS to Lyle Miller!
NEW CLUB FORMED “The Wing Commander’s Club”
During the past few months the Society has received four very generous donations of $10,000 each.
In June/96 we were saddened to hear of the passing of Robert D. Crawford, a Square-Footer member from Calgary. Then in July/96 we were advised of the death of Eva Brackenbury, one of our Square-Footer members from Nanton.
Both Mr. Crcawford and Mrs. Brackenbury were loyal members who had sopported our Society over a number of years. Their generous bequests of $10,000 each will live on in our work to preserve the history of Bomber Command and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. we offer our deepest condolences to their families.
The Society was pleased to receive a donation of $10,000 from the a7 Ranche Charitable Foundation. The late John Cross and his wife Eleanor operated the rannch west of Nanton for many years. Mr. Cross was the son of A.E. Cross who established the a7 in the 1880’s and was one of the founders of the Calgary Stampede. Our thanks to Mrs. Eleanor Cross for her continuing support.
In September/96, The Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum was one of several across Canada which received donations from the trust fund honouring Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Arthur Harris, the Commander in Chief of Bomber Command during World War II. The fund had been established to finance the legal proceedings against the CBC et al regarding the documentary “The Valour and the Horror.” Of the 12 museums which were supported, the Lascaster Society was one of five organizations which received the maximum donation of $10,000. One of the Society’s directors, Joe English, accepted the donation on behalf of the NLS at a dinner in Toronto on September 28.
All of the above donations have been placed in our museum expansion building fund.
In view of these substantial donations, the Society has inaugurated “The Wing Commander’s Club,” a special designation for individuals and organizations who have donated $5,000 or more to our Society. A special oak display board is being made and appropriate plaques will be mounted on it recognizing these significant contributions.
Restoration of the 1941 Fuel Bowser (Tender) truck is now underway due to the recent approval of a grant for this purpose by the Alberta Museums Association.
The vehicle is presently having body work done by Siebens Industries who is also donating toward the restoration of this artifict.
This truck was donated to the museum by Karl Bazin of Swift Current, Saskatchewan. This “bowser” or “tender” was apparently used on the BCATP base at Swift Current during the war. The power train on the vehicle is in good condition and the engine runs like a “top.”
While the truck is presently having the body work and repainting done and will come out of the shop looking brand new, a few items still have to be obtained or fabricated for this unit. In particular we need one more boom casting for the fuel hose booms that are situated on top of the tank part of the bowser.
A photo of the (one) casting we have on hand, was placed in our 1996 Spring/Summer Newsletter, but to date has not brought us any leads as to where one might be found. Other components of the two booms can be fabricated easily in our shop.
Our friends at the BCATP Museum at Brandon, Manitoba, presently have our one casting and are trying to locate someone who can cast two for their bowser project and one for ours.
Other than that small problem, the rest of the project should be completed and displayed by the spring of 1997. This fuel truck will make a great companion display to go with the Fleet Fawn and/or the Fairchild Cornell. This brings our collection of BCATP support vehicles to four, along with two fire/crash trucks and one WWII hangar towing tractor.
The museum’s 1942 fire truck has been restored. It sports a new paint job, new wood deck at the back, etc. A few items are still to be added to complete the restoration. We have come up with the CO2 and fire foam tanks and they will be installed before next spring.
Your Society is looking for the two hose reels which mount on top of the truck behind the cab. These reels hold the CO2 and fire foam hoses. If anyone knows where we can find these (in any condition) please let us know. Leave a message at the museum if you have any information regarding thes items.
The Society would like to extend THANKS to the Willows Project Fund and the Nanton Fire Department, for helping fund the restoration of this BCATP fire truck. THANKS also to Siebens Industries, Richard Ostrum, Garth Slade, Dave Lorre, Bill and Wanda Shaw, and G & JD Construction for their donations which helped toward restoration of this WWII artifact.
During the Summer of 1996, Bob Lehr of Cardston, AB, dilivered a 1/5 scale fibreglass Harvard to the museum that he spent two years making.Bob
had approached NLS about three years ago as to whether the museum might like one for a weather vane. Bob had previously built a Mustang and mounted it at his form gate.
NLS member Garth Hurl completed the markings and roundels before the Harvard was mounted on the building.
This great display now graces the upper southest corner of the museum hangar. Our greateful THANKS go out to Bob Lehr! Thanks also to Grath Hurl, Neil Wilson, Jim McMasters and all who helped with mounting.
Genet Engine Ready
Our 1930, five cylinder, Armstrong-Siddeley Genet engine that is slated to be traded for a seven-cylinder Genet Major (Civet 1A) in Australia, is ready to ship. Fawn 264 was originally powered by a Civet 1A. the installation of this engine on our Fawn will make it a one-of-a-kind exhibit.
Amit Minhas finished up his time in the NLS shop getting the Genet five cylinder engine ready to ship. It now only needs to be crated. We hope to hear from Howard Jones in Australia shortly regarding the trade engine.
“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.” Thes words, so aptly written by John Magee over fifty years ago suddenly have more meaning for me.
In September, I graduated as a full-fledged ultra-light aeroplane pilot. To a lot of people this might not mean much (especially if you flew over Germany dodging nightsfighters in WWII). However, it was something I had dreamt about since childhood – actually piloting an aircraft by myself. Even though it may be at the sedate pace of 50 m.p.h., the thrill of stalls, spins, take-offs and landings was adequate to satisfy my yearning for airborne adventure. It gave me a small taste of what it must have been like learning to fly over High River in 1942 in a Tiger Moth.
This experience was multiplied thousands of times as many young aircrew were introduced to an alien world of high performance fighters and bombers, where excitement mingled with death on a daily basis.
This brings me to my next point. None of us are going to live forever (and believe me I considered this possibility most fervently during my first overzealous “Stall” recovery). Each of us might consider where a portion of our estate might go in the event of our demise.
Already this past summer two bequeathals have made it possible for us to purchase a static Harvard and brought expansion funds to within $30,000 of our (Phase I) goal. These gifts have gone a long way toward furthering our goal of honoring those who served in the Allied Air Forces in WWII. Please give this some thought.
Curator / Editor’s Desk
Again it’s time to write this column. Where did the summer go? Anyway, we have had a great year with so much activity that it will be hard to report it all in this newsletter.
Getting the building fund under way was a major happening of the summer. We are now well on our way to funding “phase one” of the expansion. This, of course, is the proposed 7200 square foot addition to the museum hangar. The estimated cost is $206,000.
Presently we have about $80,000 which includes a promise of a $40,000 loan, interest free for five years, from the town. How is that for community support! The rest of the monies come from two estates, the Bomber Harris Trust, the Eleanor Cross Family Trust, and 25% of 1996 daily donations! Our MLA has indicated the government will match up to one half the estimated cost (subject to monies being available) from the Community Facilities Enhancement Grant program.
With the $80,000 now on hand we need about another $30,000 (adding an little extra to cover unforeseen costs.) Members! Can you help? Funding needs to be in place before the new year.
Another milestone has been reached in our ongoing restoration program! We have the Fleet Fawn restored (98%) and assembled. The canopy and a few odds and ends are all that is left. Our Kinner B-5 engine is temporarily installed until we get the Civet 1A from Australia.
I’m trying not to repeat what is already mentioned above in the newsletter, but the purchase of the static Harvard, the Bolingbroke cabin section under restoration, Lancaster upgrading this summer, donation of new memorabilia, etc., show our museum is evolving at a phenomenal pace. Our “Salute to Those Who Served” celebration was second to none and added much to our museum’s reputation.
We sent our president, Dan Fox, and one of our directors, John Dozeman, to the annual meeting of the Canadian Aeronautical Preservation Association (CAPA) held this year at the Warplane Heritage Museum, Mount Hope, Ontario, on November 1st to 3rd.
As a member of CAPA, our museum meets with the other air museums across Canada. Discussions of mutual problems and possible solutions, exchange of ideas and sharing of information are only some of the advantages of being a member.
Help such as sharing of surplus parts for aircraft and other projects, expertise exchange, etc., are also reasons for belonging to this national organization. Dan and John came back with new ideas and information that will enhance our museum in the future.
One exciting thing that is happening is that people are retiring to Nanton so they might help out at the museum! Recently a man from Saskatchewan phoned to say that his son, who had visited the museum, had so impressed him (the father) with his description of the museum, that he is thinking of moving to Nanton to help out. He is former ground crew with experience on Wellingtons, Whitleys, Halifax, Bolingbrokes. He would like to get his hands dirty working on the Lanc! We must be doing something right to enthuse people this way! Again, we will continue to “Press On Regardless!”