Newsletter – 1997 Fall and Winter

Museum Expansion

Some eight inches of rain in mid May and more in June, made it impossible to pour the concrete footings and the foundation. Building expansion finally got under way in late August.
Due to the delay and the Alberta building boom, the subcontractors slated to erect the steel structure were not available when the foundation was finally in place. In spite of delays a steel erection crew was found and the main frame was up by mid October.
At this writing the metal sheathing is now on and the ‘lean-to’ wings are under construction, thus the building will be enclosed shortly.
While the building was without a west wall for some weeks, night time security was provided by local members taking shifts of three hours each. As our volunteers were wearing out after nearly a month of this, a guard dog was substituted during the final stages of construction until the expanded building was closed in. Thanks go out to all those who helped keep the building secure.
The new addition at present is only a bare building shell without concrete floors or finished interior walls, lighting, etc. Already it is being used to house some of the aircraft projects that have been stored outside due to the previous lack of space in the museum.

Harry Whereatt Donates Bolingbroke

Well-known vintage aircraft collector, Harry Whereatt and his wife Anne, of Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, have donated their nearly complete Bristol Bolingbroke #9987 to the Society. The Whereatt’s have a vintage aircraft collection second to none! Two outstanding examples are a Westland Lysander and a Hawker Hurricane, their restoration to airworthy status nearly completed! Others are Harvards, a Tiger Moth, Yale, Cornell, T-33, Lockheed Loadstar, etc.
The Whereatt Boly #9987 is slated to be restored by NLS and dedicated to the late Barry Davidson of Calgary, Alberta, who played a prominent role in the “Great Escape” from the WWII, Prisoner of War (POW) camp, Stalag Luft #3. Barry crash-landed a Blenheim Bomber (same aircraft type as a Bolingbroke) early in the war and spent nearly five years in POW camps. Dedication of the aircraft is tentatively scheduled for the summer of the year 2000.
On October 14, a contingent of two pickup trucks and one tractor – semitrailer unit left Nanton for Harry Whereatt’s farm at Assiniboia, Saskatchewan. The group arrived at about 2 p.m. . The aircraft was disassembled under the direction of Harry Whereatt. Some three hours later the Bolingbroke was lifted onto the semitrailer ( owned by Louie’s Trucking of Nanton) by a crane from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
The group stayed overnight in Assiniboia , then headed back to Alberta with Jack Comis’ “pilot” truck leading the 18 foot wide load and John Green and Bob Evans in the following pilot truck. The entourage arrived in Nanton at 6:15 p.m. after an uneventful trip.
Another unexpected, but great donation has come on the heels of the Whereatt donation, that being the donation of the late Jonathon Spinks Boly collection. The Bolingbroke (Blenheim) restoration is now a certainty because of these great donations!
Our Sincere THANKS go out to Harry and Anne Whereatt for their generosity!!

Louie’s Trucking,
owned and operated by Louie Kowalchuk and sons Tim and Lauren. Lauren was the driver (and worker) on this trip. They donated the hauling!
Jack Comis, (Jay-Lyn Pilot Service)
who donated his personal services and that of his pilot truck!
John Green
who again donated his services and use of his truck. In July, John, also donated a flight to the Whereatt form in his Piper Comanche (with curator Bob Evans) to look at the Boly.

The Jonathon Spinks Boly Collection (A Recent Donation)

Jonathon Spinks (referred to as “Jon” by his Society friends) studied history at the University of Lethbridge. But the history he enjoyed most was not to be found in the books of the U of L library. Jon loved to go “airplane hunting!” At this he was both an expert and ahead of his times.
At the age of fourteen he realized there was a wealth of historical artifacts, unappreciated and for the most part forgotten, in farmer’s yards, sheds, and even in their junk piles all across western Canada. Methodically mapping the locations where Lancasters had been broken up for scrap in the 1950’s he searched for the leftovers-gun turrets, instrument panels, pilot’s seats, bomb bay doors, escape hatches, and anything else he could find. He also scoured western Canada finding abandoned aircraft and artifacts of the BCATP.
Prior to the formation of the NLS, although he was somewhat embarrassed to admit it, Jon even attempted to acquire Nanton’s Lancaster. He later joined the Society, training and inspiring its members in his chosen field of “airplane hunting.” Many of us had the pleasure of walking through farmyards with Jon as he instantly identified bits and pieces of wartime history either abondoned or being used for some farm purpose. His efforts and enthusiasm were responsible for the Society acquiring numerous artifacts from the farms of southern Alberta.
Sadly Jonathon passed away in 1995 at the very young age of 28 years. We are grateful and honoured that much of Jon’s legacy has recently been donated to our museum by his parents, David and Jo Spinks.
Jon was obsessed with Bolingbrokes, the Canadion built version of the Blenheim IV bomber. Boly’s were used with the BCATP and also flew operationally with the RCAF on coastal patrol.
Jon had collected the major components of five Bolingbrokes and thousands of small parts before his health failed. His complete Boly collection has been donated and will be used in the restoration of the Boly recently donated by Harry Whereatt.
Jon’s RCAF Yale #3403, which is virtually complete, has also been donated. It served at #6 SPTS in Dunnville, Ontario from 1940 until the end of the war. An American designed single engine training aircraft, the Yale was built for the French Air Force but much of their order was diverted to Canada and the BCATP following the fall of France in 1940. This aircraft will be assembled and placed on display next spring in the expanded portion of our hangar.
When restored the Yale will be dedicated to Jonathon Spinks, a visionary in the field of preservation of World War II aviation history.
Another of Jon’s prized possessions, a Lancaster pilot’s seat, has been donated as well.
The Society will never be able to adequately express its gratitude for the donation of these aircraft and artifacts by David and Jo Spinks. We think Jon would be pleased that we will be taking good care of some of the “prizes” of his “airplane hunting.”

NORDEN Bombsight

We recently acquired the main components of a NORDEN bombsight (USA, WWII, secret bombsight) and a trunk which held wartime desert survival equipment for a Lancaster! The plate listing the contents is still intact. These were donated by our long term friend Ben Howser, Tacoma, Washington who arrived in October with these items. We sent Ben home with some Anson parts.

“We Remember” (A Musical Presentation)

Those present at the sold-out Nanton Community Centre on November 14th were treated to an outstanding performance by the Gleichen and District Community Choir. THis talented group performed at no cost to the Society to raise funds for our museum expansion.
Narrated by D-Day veteran George Freeman, the concert featured some thirty-four wartime songs, ably sung by the thirty-eight voice choir. As well, a storyline guided the audience through a series of skits which cleverly connected the songs to portray the events of WWII in a very personal and meaningful way. At more than one occasion during the performance, there were few dry eyes to be found.
A memorable highlight for those who happened to be present occurred at the museum prior to the concert. Several of the choir climbed into the Lancaster and those in the hangar enjoyed “Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer” sung from the cokpit-another “special moment” for our museum.
Thanks to Janet Bolinger and the Gleichen and District Community Choir for an excellent presentation.

Roy Chadwick Day

July 26, 1997 was the day we celebrated the life of one of the world’s best and most prolific aircraft designers. Although Roy Chadwick died tragically, in 1947, in the crash of one of his newly designed aircraft, he left a legacy of aviation triumphs that changed the history of aviation forever. The crash, in which he perished, was the result of flight control cables being reversed during a preflight inspection.
Fifty years later the Nanton Lancaster Society remembered Roy Chadwick for all his achievements, but in particular, as the designer of the Lancaster bomber. This state of the art WWII bomber was without doubt his best work, playing a major role in helping to triumph over Hitler’s attempt to rule the world. Without this machine and its gallant crews, the war may have been prolonged and its ending different.
We celebrated Roy Chadwick’s genius, not only as it applied to war, for the whole aviation world gained from the new and exciting innovations that came from his drawing board. Here was a man who designed aircraft from WWI through WWII and the peaceful years in between and afterward.
Chadwick designed aircraft from early bi-wing trainers to modern jets! one of the designs that was on his drawing board at his death was used years afterward in the Falkland Islands war. This was the Vulcan bomber!
Roy Chadwick’s daughter, Margaret Dove, is our Society’s Honorary President and a great supporter of the museum.

July 26 Luncheon

In excess of 200 persons attended the noon luncheon, which was part of the Tribute to Roy Chadwick day celebrations.
Some of the special guests were Don and Eleanor Hudson (Don is Roy Chadwick’s nephew), from Calgary, Norm and Mary Ethridge, Hamilton, Ontario, (Norm was the guiding force behind the restoration of Canada’s only flying Lancaster), Ken and Beryl Brown, White Rock, B.C. (of Dam Buster fame), and Honorary Col. Art Smith of 416 Squadron.
An excellent luncheon was catered by Mac’s Restaurant and everyone enjoyed the proceedings and messages from the speakers.

Fleet Fawn Unveiled!

The restored Fleet Fawn was unveiled in the museum before a crowd of 150 persons on May 3, 1997. The aircraft, was donated to the Society in 1988 by the late Ernie Oakman and his wife Agnes, of Stewart Valley, Saskatchewan, as a derelict conglomerate of parts. Much of the museum’s first static restoration project was completed over the past four years by NLS volunteers and SAIT summer student employees.
The covering of the airframe with fabric and the final paint job was accomplished by, AME Ron Jackson, assisted by his wife Julie. Ron also fabricated the windscreen. The completed Fawn shows off Ron’s very professional and immaculate workmanship. Ron and Julie, who live in Calgary, are longtime members and supporters of the Society.
Several members of the Oakman family travelled from Saskatchewan to be on hand for the unveiling. They were Ernie’s widow Agnes, daughter Barbara Lopeter, sons Brian, Larry. Larry’s wife and two children accompanied them. Ernie’s sister Irene, of Calgary, also attended. To see the Fleet restored to new looking status was an emotional occasion for the Oakman family.
NLS president, Dan Fox, spoke at length on how the donation of the Fleet, the Cornell, various engines, propellers, and numerous other items by Ernie and Agnes had been a turning point in the museum’s growth.
Larry Oakman spoke on behalf of the family of how gratified they were to be present to see Ernie’s dream of a restored Fleet become a reality. Larry presented curator Bob Evans with a flying helmet and goggles to be displayed with the Fleet Fawn. He told the story of his father wearing these while familiarizing himself with another Fleet aircraft which was purchased from War Assets after the war. Ernie inadvertently found himself airborne in the unfamiliar aircraft after telling his family he was only going to taxi it!
Two former wartime pilots who had taken their initial training in Fleet aircraft, Gerry de Nancrede (passed away November 6/97) and John Sherlock, (80 years old and flew Fleet Finches in 1941) were on hand and spoke of their training experiences. John later flew Spitfires from Malta.
After the unveiling a luncheon was served. Everyone agreed that Ernie Oakman would be pleased indeed that the Fawn is now displayed, in all it’s original glory, in the Nanton Air Museum. The Society extends it’s sincere THANKS to the Oakman family for their support, to Ron and Julie Jackson for finishing the aircraft to a high museum standard, and to all thoso who helped in anyway to complete the Fleet Fawn.
Also our grateful THANKS to the Lethbridge Foundation and the Alberta Museums Association for their support and help in fundingthe restoration of Fawn #264.

T-33 Long-Term Loan

Local business man, Howard Magwood, long time supporter of the Lancaster Society Museum, convinced his friend Orville Rowland of Okotoks, Alberta, to loan his T-33 to the Society on a long-term basis. The aircraft will be mounted on a pylon in front of the museum.
Magwood Motor’s semitrailer unit hauled the wing assembly and Lauren Kowalchuk of Louie’s Trucking (from Nanton) hauled the fuselage on another semitrailer. The aircraft was dismantled by volunteers and the Society’s two AME summer student employees.
H&H Crane Service loaded the components on the trucks at Okotoks. Arriving at Nanton the T-33 was unloaded and the crane used to facilitate reattaching fuselage and wing.
The aircraft has been cleaned, polished, and had old paint removed. Still to be done is repainting of the roundels and insignia. The aircraft will be mounted near the museum next spring.
The Society THANKS: Orville Rowland for his support of the museum. Also, Howard Magwood, Louie’s Trucking, and everone who helped in any way with this project.

Legion Torch Run

In October, Royal Canadian Legions from across southern Alberta staged a torch run starting in Medicine Hat and ending in Pincher Creek. The torch arrived from Brooks on the morning of October 25,1997, for a noon stopover at the nanton Air Museum.
The run was a publicity event promoting the Legion and all it stands for.
There was a small ceremony in thich several Legion officials spoke of the declining membership numbers. Their hopes were that the torch run might generate interest within the communities that the group was passing through and hopefully increase memberships. The Nanton Legion Branch #80, hosted a luncheon in the museum.
Your Society was pleased to be able to make the museum facility available for the luncheon and ceremony. Legions across Alberta nad elsewhere have supported the Society’s efforts since its inception.

CAPA Conference (by NLS President Dan Fox)

On November 1 and 2, 1997 your museum was well represented at the annual Canadian Aoronautical Preservation Association conference, held this year at the National Aviation Museum (NAM) in Ottawa, Ontario. Curator Bob Evans and his wife Carol, as well as Dave Birrell and yours truly, attended a very interesting weekend of tours, presentations, and meetings.
Chris Terry, Director General of NAM, was our gracious host. He kept us busy on Saturday with guided tours of the museum (they have 120 aircraft under one roof!), and sessions with Chuck Gruchy, Director General of Canadian Heritage, and Tim Bube, archivist at the National Archives. At the banquet that evening, our guest speaker was Robert Bradford, former director of NAM and renowned aviation artist.
Following the banquet we were allowed to climb through the beautiful B-24 Liberator bomber and try our skill on the ‘virtual reality’ hang glider, flying through the Grand Canyon. (I crashed twice!)
Sunday presentations were by Peter Verney, director of dispersals, sales, artifacts, and loans from National Defence, followed by Wendy McPeake of the Canadian Museums Association.
The annual business meeting completed the morning and election of officers saw Byron Reynolds of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, elected as president, Ron Anderson, Winnipeg, Manitoba, as vice-president, Michael White of Halifax, Nova Scotia, as secretary, and Dan Fox of Nanton, as treasurer.
CAPA is truly becoming a national organization, representing most of the aviation museums across Canada. Pobably the most valuable “sessions” took place informally, where networking among delegates led to trading ideas, information and artifacts. One evening spent with Karl Kjarsgaard, the Canadian Airlines pilot, who has engineered the recovery of two Halifax bombers in Europe, will stay in our memories as the highlight of the trip.
Thanks must go to Don Pearsons, of National Defence, who arranged two free passes for our museum on a D.N.D. flight to Ottawa and back.
All in all, a most valuable conference – well worth attending. We are looking forward to next year when it will be held in Winnipeg.

Halifax Display

Our “Lancaster Society” is often reminded by visitors that the majority of the operations carried out by Canadian squadrons were flown, not in Lancs, but in Halifaxes. We are very aware of this and always “apologize” for not having a Halifax – we’d love to have one donated.
With the restoration of the Whereatt Bolingbroke as a Blenheim IV, we will be adding a second bomber to our hanger and this will improve our ability to honour all who served with Bomber Command. However we do recognize the need to commenmorate the Halifax and will be preparing a Halifax display for our expanded display area.
Any artifacts or photographs that members feel might be useful would be most appreciatied.

Parts Donated

Two truckloads of aircraft parts were donated to the Society by John Zaozirny of Calgary. The collection includes a large number and variety of aircraft bolts, dynamotors, a large quantity of Dzus fasteners, C-47 carburetors, Sperry autopilot parts, etc. All are of postwar origin.
NLS member, Jim Weirsma viewed the collection of aircraft parts and determined that it would be nearly impossible to appraise it in the Calgary warehouse basement where it was stored. the owner agreed that all the items be hauled to the museum for appraisal. Jim made two trips with John Green’s two ton truck to bring all the components to Nanton. Several local members along with appraiser, Richard de Boer, spent about six hours going over the hundreds of pieces.
We will be listing some of these items on this internet site in the near future, along with other items that are surplus to our needs. Anyone interested in the items might contact the museum for an appointment to view same.
We extend our Thanks to John Zaozirny for his donation and interest in our museum.

Lancaster Upgrades

NLS members, Paul and Louise Whitfield, along with son Peter,from Sarnia, Ontario, were here again for the fifth year in a row, working on the Lanc! Peter spent a week in June working on engine #3 making firewall connections and adding accessories from NLS storage.
The whole family arrived in August/97. Paul and Peter installed the plexiglas Astro Dome as well as doing other work throughout the aircraft. Louise spent her time cleaning, polishing cabinets and helping Paul and Peter whenever they needed assistance.
Again the Society had two Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) students hired for the summer upgrading the Lanc. These students from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) repaired bomb-bay doors, covered in post-war window openings at the rear of the fuselage, and removed post-war wiring from the Lanc. They repaired one of the engine cowlings, removing dents, painting, and reinstalling it on the aircraft.
Shop co-ordinator, Jim Weirsma, supervised the restoration of the Lancaster cowling as well as doing some of the work. Jim had taken on the responsibility of supervising and scheduling restoration work done by the AME students.
A recent visitor to our museum, Marcus Stephenson, has offered to restore another cowling. Marcus operates a furniture refinishing business in Calgary and will be restoring our N.A. Yale.
All in all, a lot of work was done to the Lanc during the summer, but, as with all restoration projects of this magnitude the upgrading is not always visible to the museum visitor. The Society is dedicatid to the ongoing, long-term restoration of the museum’s centrepiece, Lancaster bomber FM-159, to its wartime configuration.

Harvard Update

The museum’s Harvard, purchased from the Museum of Flight and Transportation at Langley, B.C. last year, has seen some upgrades. The car wheels on which it had been displayed have been changed for Harvard wheels donated by local aircraft enthusiast Neil McClain. Neil donated pear legs and other parts as well. Local members, John Green and Jim Weirsma, installed the gear legs and wheels on Harvard #419.
The High River/Okotoks Air Cadet squadron cleaned the aircraft and the museum last spring, prior to daily opening. They also installed the wings on the Harvard and polished it. When they were done the aircraft glowed!
The cadets and their leaders were a great help with getting the museum and aircraft cleaned and readied for the tourist season. The group came back again on May 3 to help with the official unveiling of the newly restored Fleet Fawn.
Our Society would like to express its grateful THANKS to Neil McClain, for his donations, John Green, and Jim Weirsma, for their efforts, and the Cadets and their Leaders for helping with the Harvard, cleaning the museum, and making the other displays presentable.

Fuel Bowser Update

The 1941 Fuel Bowser is nearly restored. Body work and painting was done by Siebens Industries in Nanton. As usual they have done a fine job. They also donated part of the cost.
Some wiring has yet to be replaced and the two overhead hose “booms” have yet to be made up. We will be completing the restoration in the museum shop this winter.
The BCATP Museum in Brandon, Manitoba, also have a fuel bowser project. They used our one boom casting (we each need two) to have three others cast and machined at a minimal cost. This coopecation solved a mutual problem.
This wartime fuel truck was donated by Karl Bazin and family of Swift Current, Saskachewan. It was apparently used on the BCATP base at Swift Current during the war.
This adds one more restored support unit to go with our 1943 Ford crash tender and the 1942 Ford 6×6 crash/fire truck.
Our grateful THANKS go: to Karl Bazin and family for donating the Fuel Bowser; to Siebens Industries for their donation of labour; to the Brandon BCATP Museum for their help with the castings; and the the Alberta Museums Association for delping fund the project.

Oxford Delivered

Our good friend and NLS member from Saskatchewan, Karl Bazin, has again added to our Airspeed Oxford collection. This time Karl and a friend kept the cabin fixtures in place on a specially made wood frame. As a result, we now have visual reference as to the location of controls, etc., in this area.
For those readers who are not familiar with Oxfords, this twin engine aircraft was constructed mainly of wood. Fifty years later the centre-section is the main component left with wings and fuselage completely gone except for metal fittings. These latter items have to be searched for amid the dead grass and soil accumulation.
NLS has great hopes of being able to restore an Oxford (known as the ‘Oz-Box’ by those who trained and flew in them huring WWII.) There are several other oxford projects under way in Canada and elsewhere in the world. In Western Canada the Calgary Aero Space Museum, The Reynolds Museum, and Frank THompson of Assiniboia Sask. also have Oxford projects. George Ryning of Calgary, has helped everyone with Oxford drawings.

Lanc Cabin Replica

Members, Merrill Honeyman and Fred Hollowell, are working at making the replica Lancaster cabin section into a hand-on display. Like most projects in the museum it is time consuming. The first phase should be in place for the 1998 tourist season. Visitors will be able to sit in a Lanc pilot seat and friends can take photos.
Long term plans are to eventually expand the replica into a ‘virtual reality’ (VR) machine, where the visitor(s) will be able to experience a ‘bombing’ run ino a WWII target, complete with sounds and motion.
This next stage of development will come on stream as monies are available. Members with ideas about how this might be accomplished and /or where funding might be found, please contact us. Merrill and Fred would be happy to have anyone join them in this project.
Many larger museums already have virual reality enertainment. For instance, the National Aviation Museum (NAM) in Ottawa has several VR displays. In one you can “fly” over the Grand Canyon with a hang glider. In the future all museums will need such attractions to satisfy visitor expectiations of entertainment.

Surplus Lanc Parts

Your Society was contacted by a company in England regarding possibe purchase of our surplus Lascaster undercarriage parts for a third party. We have entered into a one-year agreement with this company, giving them the right to purchase parts which we have deemed surplus to future needs.
The intermediary company has indicated that a representative of the third party will be calling on us before the agreement expires next year, to inspect the undercarriage parts. Funds from such a sale would assist with ongoing restorations.

Air Crew Association

Our good friends in the Calgary Air Crew Association have once again donated to the museum fund. In October, two NLS members, Joe English and Jim Weirsma, attended a luncheon meeting of the Air Crew Association to accept a cheque in the amount of $2,000.
Over the last decade this group has periodically helped with funding for the museum. Once again we extend our grateful THANKS.

Snowbirds Fly Over Nanton

On August 4, 1997 the Canadian Airforce Snowbirds took time out of their schedule to fly over Nanton. The Snowbirds were enroute to Cranbrook, B.C. from Red Deer, Alberta. Nanton was having their annual August long weekend events and the Snowbirds arrived in the skies over Nanton just moments after the morning parade. Captain Dan Robinson, son of Tink Robinson and Judy Armstrong of Nanton flies plane number four which is directly in the middle behind the lead plane in the formation.

Saskatchewan Visitor

Carl Gillis, Saskatchewan Flying Farmer and form writer, visited the museum during August. He was particularly interested in the CF-100 as he spent some time in the military and flew this type of aircraft.
Carl is a long time member of the Saskatchewan Flying Farmers and recently served as International Flying Farmer president. He contributes articles to such farm publications as “The Grain News.”

Students Visits

This year our museum has seen an increase in visits by school students and their teachers. A number of schools have become aware that we are a resource for bringing to life the historic period of 1939-45.
This month started out with four groups of students visiting prior to Remembrance Day. Two ECS classes from Nanton, a mixed group from a private school in Fort Macleod, and Mrs. Bev de Paoli’s class from Cayley, Alberta. Bev has been bringing her classes to the museum for the past four years.
A workbook, developed by NLS secretary/treasurer Dave Birrell, is available to teachers. This workbook is based on the museum’s wartime aviation collection of historic artifacts and memorabilia, may be obtained at no charge by phoning the museum. It is suggested that this be obtained prior to the class visiting the museum and it may be photocopied for the individual students.
NLS members might pass this information on to teachers who may be interested. We would be pleased to extend the use of our facility for educational purposes anytime.

In Memoriam for

  • John Dove, beloved husband of Margaret Dove, our Honorary President, passed away on the Isle of Man, U.K.
  • Paul Hawkes, our good friend from Calgary, Alberta.
  • Gerry de Nancrede, Calgary, Alberta, member and friend.
  • Stew Allan, a founding member of the Nanton Lancaster Society.
  • Erwin Olser, Vancouver Island, B.C. member and friend of NLS.

We extend our deepest sympathy to the families of all the above in this time of sorrow.
May they gain solace from knowing that many others share the pain of their loss.

Copyright 2010, Nanton Lancaster Society