Millennium Project (Blenheim Bomber) Unveiled
The Society’s annual event held on August 12 saw the museum’s Bristol Blenheim bomber unveiled. The newly restored Blenheim joins with the Lancaster bomber as the second Bomber Command aircraft in the museum’s collection. both aircraft have been dedicated to individuals who were renowned for the part they played it WWII Aviation history. Through these dedications it is intended to honour all those who served.
The Blenheim was dedicated to the late Barry Davidson of Calgary, AB. Barry was a POW for nearly five years during WWII after crash landing his crippled Blenheim bomber on a beach in occupied France early in the war. Two other displays were also officially opened with ribbon cutting ceremonies, one pertaining to Barry’s wartime experiences as a POW and his participation in the Great Escape from POW camp Stalag Luft III. The second display features a large framed print portraying Stalag Luft III with pictures of the 50 prisoners who were recaptured and murdered on Hitler’s direct order.
Special guests in attendance were Barry Davidson Jr., his sisters Liz Harder and Bryanne Wood and their families. Also attending were several former POWs. Hap Geddes, who roomed with Davidson at Stalag Luft III, spoke of his time with Barry at the unveiling ceremony. Winston Parker unveiled the POW display in the museum’s small artifact gallery. He had donated the specially framed print which was the focal point of the display.
A very receptive crowd made the day one of the best ever in the history of the Society. the day’s events were reported by both national TV and radio.
Behind the scenes, the Blenheim restoration was an all-out effort by many volunteers. Of course the whole project goes back to the donation of the aircraft by Harry and Anne Whereatt, Assiniboia, Sask. Parts from the late Jonathon Spinks Bolingbroke collection (donated by his parents, David and Jo Spinks) were also used.
We are very grateful to member Maurice Galli of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, who donated the spray painting of the aircraft. This took nearly four days!
Local member, Alvin Berger, saved the day by machining the propeller counterweight arms, without wich the props could not have been mounted.
The restoration of the Blenheim received financial support through the Millennium Bureau of Canada.
Maurice Galli painting the camouflage on the upper fuselage.Our thanks to Maurice!
NLS member Alvin Berger holds the propeller counterweight arms he made from scratch for the Blenheim. A grateful thanks to Alvin!
Jim Wiersma painting the squadron letters.
Student Brett Walker stripped paint from many of the parts for the Blenheim. He was one of several students hired. Bret worked the longest. We extend a special thanks to Brett for his tenacity in staying with this monotonous, but important job in the restoration of the Blenheim.
Front view of the Barry Davidson memorial Bristol Blenheim L-WV as it appears on permanent display in the Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum.
Bryanne Wood, Barry Davidson Jr., and Liz Harder in front of the display honouring their late father, Barry Davidson.
Former POW, Winston Parker, points to a special print depicting the Great Escape, prior to
officially opening the display commemorating this historic event. The framed print, donated by Winston, is of a painting by Bill Holder, of Okotoks. Winston is a long-time member of the Society and a major contributor to the museum. Our grateful thanks to him for his continued interest and help.
Dedicated AME Student
The Society hired Paul Fitzpattrick, a first year AME student from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in May with the assistance of the Federal Government’s Summer Career Placement Program.
Paul is a second career student. Having retired as a mining engineer, he decided to qualify as an AME and work on airplanes, a lifelong interest.
As the summer progressed, Paul became one of the Society’s “fanatics.” He accomplished miracles, helping us ready the Blenheim for unveiling by our August 12 deadline.
While working at the museum he often spent his lunch hours flying his R.C. model airplanes from a local grass area that NLS President Dan Fox had specially mowed for the purpose.
Though Paul is now back in his final year at SAIT, he will be doing some more sheet metal work for us on weekends and semester breaks. He has offered to restore the ailerons for the Blenheim, over the winter months.
Our Society extends a grateful THANK YOU to Paul for his extra efforts while in our employ. We wish him all the best in his chosen career.
Paul Fitzpatrick gets right into the job at hand – reskinning portions of the port wing of the Blenheim.
A.J. Flying Ranch Fly-In
The Society, in conjuction with the local Bomber command Squadron #6, hosted a fly-in breakfast on July 15, 2000 at the A.J. Flying Ranch seven miles north of Nanton.
Two aircraft arrive the night before, with their owners camping out under the wing. The morning produced a fast moving weather system, which limited the attendance at the pancake breakfast catered by the nanton and District Lions Club. In spite of the morning weather the event turned out to be a good day for all who braved the elements to attend.
One of the aircraft attending was a 1941 Mk.II harvard, flown by Byron Reynolds of Reynolds Aviation museum at Wetaskiwin, AB. Several other aircraft did attend, including a couple of homebuilts. By noon there were in excess of twenty aircraft in attendance. A lunch was served by the High River Air Cadets.
This was the first time the Society has been involved in hosting a fly-in breakfast. Hopefully this will become an annual event. Look for details of the 2001 fly-in in the spring newsletter.
Byron Reynolds and Dan Fox in discussion, with Harvard 3096 as a back drop. According to Byron, curator of the Reynolds Aviation Museum at Wetaskiwin, AB, this Harvard is the
oldest flying example of its type, having been built in 1941 by the noordyn Aircraft Co. in Quebec. The Reynolds Museum acquired this aircraft 19 years ago and maintains it in airworthy condition. NLS extends a special thanks to Byron Reynolds for participating in the fly-in.
Sceduled Events For 2001
Two events for next year are scheduled as this newsletter goes to print.
First, we will be officially opening the Women at War display on May 26, 2001. This display is completed and on exhibit now. We hope to have former WDs and WAAFs present for the official unveiling. A letter will be sent to NLS members with the day’s agenda.
On August 18, 2001, the Society will be holding its annual event. This full day happening will be a “Salute to the Lancaster” commemorating the 60th anniversary of the first flight of a Lancaster bomber. This annual event will see a number of special guests attending, displays from such persons as artist John Rutherford, the Avro heritage Museum, Calgary, AB, etc., and a flypast of several vintage aircraft.
Details of this event will be in the Spring/Summer 2001 newsletter which will be posted by early May.
The Women at War display which will be officially opened May 26, 2001 is the brainchild of our summer museum manager, Jennifer Howse. Those who have contributed memorabilia, artifacts, and helped with the display are Cecilia Douglas and Margaret Smith of Calgary,
Gwen Lyon, “Andy” Comstock, Gwyneth Poersch, and other local former members of the
RCAF Women’s Division (WDs) and the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF’s).
As usual, the summer saw the Whitfield family on hand to work on the Lanc. This year, not only did Paul, Louise, and Peter arrive, but also Peter’s sister, Carol Fraser, and her daughter Heather.
Paul proceeded to finish installing the last of the cabin Perspex. Peter went at the engines again, and the number one engine was turned over with the starter. The other Merlin engines are also receiving attention with the goal in mind of having them runnable by the year 2005.
As a prelude to next summer’s event, “Salute to the Lancaster,” we are working at upgrading the elevators, the FN-20 front turret, and the cockpit components.
The fabric which was applied to the elevators a few years ago as a cosmetic upgrade has been removed in order to repair the tubular spars which have some corrosion damage. We will have a local welder replace and/or reinforce the spar sections thus affected. It is imperative to have the elevators functional when the engines are made runnable. Once the repairs are made to the spars, etc., the elevators will again be re-covered.
In conjunction with the Calgary Aero Space Museum, we are having the Plexiglas molded for the front turret. Also work will be done in the cabin area to facilitate reinstalling the navigator’s table and other components.
Tentative plans are in the works for rewiring the Lancaster. The best news is that our volunteer work force is growing and it includes several persons with aircraft wiring and electronic experience. Once the plan of attack is formulated, the wiring will get underway.
Third Generation At Work On The Lancaster
In June, Paul and Louise Whitfield brought along their daughter Carol Fraser and granddaughter Heather Fraser to see the mountains and volunteer some of their time at the museum.
Heather really liked the Lancaster and she was thrilled to be able to help her uncle, Peter Whitfield, with the ongoing restoration. Peter showed her how to work the glass bead machine. She remove the old paint from the Lascaster air tank which provides air pressure for the brakes and repainted the tank with interior green paint. This tank has since been installed in FM159.
Heather said that she hopes to make a return trip in the future to help out on the Lancaster project.
Heather Fraser paints the Lancaster compressed air tanks.
Lancaster Parts Donated
On May 29/2000, Paul and Gloria Szoke from Fort Macleod, AB, brought in several Lascaster components, including ammo track parts, which are the first we have ever received. they also had photos taken six years after the war of the Lancasters, including “Sugar’s Blues,” at the Pearce, Alberta, BCATP base, where wartime Lancasters were scrapped. The photos have been copied for our archives.
Your Society is indeed indebted to the Szokes for their donation of the Lancaster parts. Our sincere THANKS go out to Paul and Gloria for their donation which will help greatly with the restoration of Lancaster FM-159.
Paul and Gloria Szoke with Lancaster parts.
Travelling Display Has Busy Summer
The museum’s travelling display was set up at six different events for a total of eight days this summer. It features four display boards which, through written information and photos, provides a brief introduction to both the history presented at the Nanton Lancaster Air museum and the museum’s collection. As well, museum books and pamphlets are available and a number of small artifacts are placed on display. Where permitted, merchandise is sold to promote the museum.
During June we visited the Okotoks Air Ranch’s Fly-In and the following weekend attended a similar event at the High River Flight Centre. Early July saw the display at a weekend-long event at the Reynolds Alberta Museum at their celebration of vintage aircraft.
On July 15/2000, the display was set up at the AJ Flying Ranch for the Lancaster Society’s first annual Fly-In. August saw the display at the Lethbridge Air Show which we have attended annually.
The display’s final appearance of th season was at the Rocky Air Show at Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.
The Quarter Million Mark
On Thursday, July 27/2000, the 250,000 visitor passed through the doors of the museum.
Retired Master Corporal, Mike Scholz was surprised by the warm welcome he received as he entered the museum with his wife Michele and eight year old son William. the Scholz family was enroute home to Calgary after a holiday which had taken them to Saskatchewan, Lethbridge, Waterton, and Blairmore, AB. Michele said, “We have been meaning to visit the museum for a long time. We sure picked the right day!”
The Scholz family received T-shirts, etc., and were treated to a ride in the newly restored Link Trainer. Son, William, was enthralled with his “flight” in the WWII simulator.
Michele and Mike Scholz with son William, in front of Lancaster FM-159.
Link Trainer Restored
Due to the efforts of Bernie Bechtel, the Society’s Link trainer is now totally restored. Bernie spent some five months sorting out parts and problems.
Your Society was fortunate to have Bernie, a radar technician and operator during WWII, take up residence in Nanton. After the war he purchased a surplus Link Trainer, instructing new pilots in the art of flying on instruments. He not only operated the Link but also serviced it.
Bernie continues to volunteer his Services in operating the Link. Over the summer months he has shown several classes of students the basics of flight in the trainer. Many adults have had the opportunity to fly the Link Trainer, giving them an idea of what is involved in flying an aeroplane using instruments only as a reference.
Bernie is presently restoring another Link Trainer for the Cadet Squadron based at Olds, Alberta.
We extend our grateful THANKS to Bernie for his dedication to the project and for his continued interest in operating the Link for visitors.
Bernie Bechtel and freshly painted Link.
Bernie Bechtel operating the Link. A visiting family looks on as their daughter “flies” the restored simulator.
Cessna Crane Project
The donated Cessna Crane T-20 aircraft which we mentioned in the spring newsletter was hauled to Nanton on June 23/2000. The Society’s good corporate friend, Louie’s Trucking donated the hauling of the aircraft’s components from Lundbreck, AB. the aircraft was loaded by a Lundbreck farmer and his loader tractor. The recovery crew consisted of Lauren Kowalchuk, Bob Evans, John Green, Bob Braid, and Bernie Bechtel.
Like most trips this took longer than anticipated, but the Crane was delivered to the museum by 4 p.m.
The Society extends a grateful THANKS to Louie’s Trucking, especially Louren Kowalchuk for his help loading and hauling this vintage cessna Crane.
A special THANKS to Elaine Drake for donating the aircraft to the museum.
Lauren Kowalchuk and John Green beside the truck and loaded Cessna Crane.
The Jacobs engines complete with propellers that will be eventually installed on the museum’s Cessna Crane.
The Canadian Aviation Historical Society Visits NLS
On Thursday, May 25, the Canadian Aviation Historical Society visited our museum during their 2000 convention which was held in Calgary.
The group arrived at the museum at 2 p.m. after stopping en-route from Calgary to visit the BCATP No. 5 EFTS site at High River. The group also made a side trip during the afternoon to the former No. 19 SFTS base near Vulcan. They arrived back at the museum for an evening meal of “beef on a bun” served by the local Nanton and District Lions Club under the wings of the Lancaster.
During the afternoon, Society members toured the 70 convention delegates through the museum and its shop. One of the attractions was the Link Trainer, which was being restored. Some members tried out the controls of the “small airplane.” the delegation also visited the “storage yard” at the Evans acreage to view the twenty or so Avro Anson remains and other aircraft components stored there.
Dave Birrell, NLS treasurer, attended the CAHS meetings in Calgary as a delegate. Our Society is pleased to be a member of this enthusiastic group whose membership have contributed greatly to the recording of Canadion aviation history.
Your Society was pleased to have hosted one day of the CAHS convention.
Towing Tractor Unveiled
Members of the 408 Squadron Helicopter crew who attended the August 12/2000, Blenheim dedication, were on hand for an additional side event. This involved unveiling the museum’s restored “towing tractor.” After several years of restoration this unit is final operational.
Originally donated to the museum by 408 Squaddron, it was only fitting that they did the honors.
Pictured above (L-R) Major Grenier Yves, and Captain Casey (the helicopter pilot) are being instructed by Dan Fox how to operate the WWII towing “mule.” Two other members of the 408 helicopter crew not pictured here, who helped with the unveiling ceremony were, Cpl. nickerson and Chief W/O Braybrook. the C/O of 408 Squadron Lt/Col. Chris Shelley and Mrs. Shelly attended the all-day function. We extend thanks to the 408 personnel for participating!
Honoring Bruce Warren
At the Society’s September meeting a decision was made to create a memorial to Bruce Warren, DFC, in the form of a flower bed near the museum’s entrance.
The twins, Bruce and Doug Warren, were born in Nanton, both flew spitfires during WWII, and were each awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). Bruce died tragically while testing a prototype CF-100 after the war, due to an oxygen system malfunction. His twin brother, Douglas (Duke) Warren, RCAF Ret., of Comox, B.C., has been a friend and member of our Society since its inception.
NLS members and volunteers, Jim and Pauline Wiersma, spent much time and effort creating this tribute to Bruce Warren. The memorial consists of a raised flower bed in front of the museum, at the foot of the flag poles. It has a large planting of tulips and other flowers which will enhance the museum grounds in the spring. More planting will take place in May to assure a continued profusion of blooms all summer. We’ll have more about the display in the spring newsletter.
This flower bed will enhance the museum grounds and be a permanent memorial to Bruce Warren.
We didn’t have a photo of Jim and Pauline Wiersma working on the memorial flower bed,
so here they are just having installed one of the “roundels” on the blenheim!
Floor Poured In Hangar
Near the end of May the last of the concrete was poured in the new hangar addition. the tubing for future in-floor heating was placed in this 7200 square foot area.
The heating of this area is under investigation. Solar power is being considered as a source, backed up by a conventional hot water boiler. The donation of a boiler and accessories by Mr. Joe Zielke of High River, Alberta, will provide us with the backup heating equipment. We extend a grateful THANKS to Joe for this donation.
We would be pleased to hear from anyone reading this article who might have advice and/or information on solar or wind electric heating. You can contact us at the phone number at the bottom of this page.
The concrete floor being poured in the extended area of the hanger – note heat tubing is in place for future heating.
Prop Spinner Donated
A propeller spinner from Lancaster FM-208 was donated to the museum by Louis de Repentigny of Montreal. The spinner had been a family possession for some 40 years and Louis wished it to go to a museum where it would either be used on another Lanc or displayed.
This prop spinner will be displayed in our museum with a record of its history relating to the de Repentigny family and its RCAF use.
Our THANKS to Louis for this historic addition to our museum!
Prop spinner from Lancaster FM-208
The CAPA Convention (by Dan Fox)
On the weekend of October 20 – 22, Dave Birrell and Dan Fox represented the Society at the Canadian Aeronautical Preservation Society (CAPA) convention in winnipeg, Manitoba. They were flown return by WESTJET airline, who had kindly donated two flights to each of the 30 air museums across Canada who had delegates attending the meeting. NLS extends its grateful THANKS to WESTJET for the donation.
CAPA has grown tremendously in the past few years. Today, almost every aviation museum in Canada is a member. The annual general meeting is a golden opportunity for its members to “network” with colleagues from other provinces who share similar interests and problems.
Topics of discussion on the Saturday included the standards of ethics for CAPA museums and updates on DND disposal plans for surplus items like Tutors, T-Birds, etc. museum reports were presented in the afternoon. It was amazing to hear the diversity of projects underway in the air museums across the nation. Everything from building a flying model of the Avro Arrow to restoring a 1930’s bush plane, which had been found in the northwest territories, was described.
At the Saturday night dinner held in the Western Canada Aviation Museum (WCAM), we had the pleasure of listening to Jack Lamb speak about his many years of flying in the Candian north. A slide show brought his many adventures to life.
At the business meeting held on Sunday, a memorandum of cooperation and understanding between all the aviation museums in Canada was drafted. Elections followed. Byron Reynolds stepped down as president and was replaced by Rick franks of the Warplane Heritage Museum, Hamilton, Ontario. Bryan Nelson, of Greenwood, N.S., is now first vice-president with Donette Hyslop of the Avro Heritage Museum, Calgary, AB, as second vice. dan Fox stepped down as secretary/treasurer and Brett Binnie of Wetaskiwin was elected to this position.
The 2000 convention was a great success and we look forward to attending next year at Warplane heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario.
The 1941 fire truck above was donated to NLS by the Champion, Alberta, fire dept.
(L-R) are Grant Wolf and Alfred Little of the Fire Dept.., along with Bob Evans and Joe English representing the NLSAM. Sinecere thanks to the Champion Fire Dept. for their donation of this former BCATP fire unit to our museum.
Dan Fox standing between Mrs. Kooistra and Baz Kooistra, NLS members from Holland.
The Kooistras visited the museum again this past summer. Baz has been a Society member for over a decade and they have previously attended several of NLS functions.
Thanks to Baz and his wife for their continuing support!
In Memoriam For –
* Ray Hollowell DFC *
Windsor, Ontario, passed away recently. Ray served with 626 Squadron during WWII and was a long-time member of the Society.
* Harold Peter Berger *
Lethbridge, Alberta, passed away on July 16, 2000. He , along with his brother Alvin, donated several wartime artifacts to the museum.
* Bernice Berger *
Nanton, Alberta, wife of NLS member Alvin Breger, passed away in November, 2000, after a brave fight agains cancer.
The Nanton Lancaster Society and all its members extend deepest sympathy
to the families and friends of these members and friends.
May God bless.
Copyright 2010, Nanton Lancaster Society