Newsletter – 2000 Spring and Summer

Y2K Problem? What Y2K Problem?

The aircrew of Bomber Command and FighterCommand get credit for Canada’s war efforts. But, as the picture below shows, itwas the ground crew of the 442 Squadron, RCAF who solved the Y2K problem inAugust of 1944. With a new engine installed in the Spitfire, the problemwith Y2K was over and she went on to fight another day. Where are these 442ground crew members now that there seems to be another Y2K problem?”

Courtesy of our member Don Currie (former 635 Squadron Royal Air Force)

“Millennium” Blenheim To Be Unveiled in August

On August 12, 2000, our newly restored (static Bleinheim bomber will be unveiled and dedicated to the late Barry Davidson of Calgary, Alberta. Barry spent nearly five years as a POW during WWII. He was the much celebrated “scrounger” in the “Great Escape,” the well-known event where 76 Allied prisoners escaped from the German POW camp, Stalag Luft #3 after digging tunnels under their prison quarters.

Also to be unveiled along with the Blenheim bomber will be a special POW display of Great Escape memorabilia.

Barry Davidson’s family will be participating in our special day honouring him and all former POWs. His son, Barry Jr., has copied much of his late father’s memorabilia for inclusion in the POW display now beingssembled and organized by NLS treasurer, Dave Birrell.
Long-time Society member, Wintston Parker, has contributed a large framed print which commemorates the Great Escape. Its border is made up of photos of the “50” prisoners who were recaptured and executed on Hitler’s direct order. Also the farmed prints of Great Escape sketches, donated last year by Joanne Kormylo of Calgary, will be incorporated into the display.

Invitations for this millennium event will be mailed to members sometime in June and will include the day’s agenda, luncheon costs, etc.

National Avaition Museum Blenheim (1997): Dave Birrell, Dan Fox, and Bob Evans in front.
The NLS Blenheim will look something like this by August 12, 2000.

The Blenheim’s starboard wing full of “clecoes.” They hold the new aluminum skin in place for riveting.


On May 25,2000,
Delegates to the Canadian Aviation Historical Society (CAHS) annual convention which is being held in Calgary from May 24 – 26, 2000, will be bused to Nanton for a tour of our museum. CAHS is a well-known national organization dedicated to preserving and recording Canadian aviation history.

Convention delegates will spend most of the afternoon in Nanton and partook of an evening meal under the wings of the Lancaster before being bused back to Calgary. The meal will be served by the local Nanton Lions Club.

July 15, 2000
will see another group of visitors touring the museum. They will be participants in a two day fly-in to the A.J. Flying Ranch airport, seven miles north of Nanton. This event is sponsored by #6 Squadron, Bomber Command Association of Canada, newly formed here at Nanton. Flyers that are expected to take part in this event will be sent from various organizations, including Alberta Flying Farmers, Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, and other flyers.

August 12, 2000
is the date of your Society’s annual event as detailed above.

Link Trainer Restored

The Link Trainer is completed.

President Dan Fox upstaged your curator by getting the first “ride” in it, while Calgary volunteer Charlie Cobb was the second “aeronaut” to discover that it “ain’t all that easy to keep it where you wand it!

The museum now has this artifact restored to its original configuration. All this is due to the expertise of Bernie Bechtel, a displaced Edmontonian, who now resides in Nanton. He was a radar operator during WWII and worked for many years with North West Industries in Edmonton. In addition he owned a Link Trainer after the war and trained pilots for instrument flight as a sideline.

Your Society contracted with Bernie in late 1999 to make the Link “work again” and he has spent the last three months sorting through our Link trainer spares, reviewing intricate electrical circuits, and repairing the various components. The final results are now at hand.
The fabric covering was completed by the end of May. Your Society hopes to have the Link Trainer on display sometime in early June. Supervised demonstrations of this flight simulator are planned for special events during the summer.

Charlie Cobb “flying” the Link!

Students from Stampede Ranch Boys’ School try out their flying skills on the Link Trainer

Bernie Bechtel working on the “Link.”

Models Donated

In the photo below are some of the 30 aircraft models that were donated to the museum by Murray Farquharson of Calgary. They include Lancasters, Short Stirling, several Spitfires, etc.
Murray’s friend and fellow modeler, Elmer Holm, arranged for the models to be given to our museum. A few planes from this collection are being completed and/or repaired for later pickup. Several are already on display in the museum.
Our THANKS to Murray and Elmer.

Charlie Cobb “flying” the Link!

WWII Aircraft Donated

Your museum is now the owner of a Cessna Crane (T-20) which has been donated by Mrs. Elaine Drake of Lundbreck, A.B.

The Crane was one of the aircraft restoration projects which Mrs. Drake’s late husband, Lloyd, had underway when he was tragically killed in an ultra-light airplane crash last year.
At the time of this writing the aircraft, which is dismantled, is yet to be hauled. The Society hopes to have it in the museum in late May. The Crane is complete but needs some TLC applied and has to be covered with new fabric. One more “project” for our small group to fit into the increasing work load at the museum!

Acquisition of the Cessna Crane adds another important WWII aircraft type to our museum, which was used extensively in the operations of the BCATP. Cranes were used for training pilots to operate twin engine aircraft.

We hope to assemble this aircraft as a “project display” until it can be worked into our restoration schedule.

Our SINCERE THANKS go out to Elaine Drake for this donation.

Nose of Crane fuselage – still in storage. NOTE: The Crane is still in storage on a farm as of May 10. The Fall newsletter will have photos of the whole aircraft.

Photo of part of the Cessna Crane wing standing on edge – still in storage. The aircraft will be hauled sometime in May.

One of the Crane’s engines with propeller.

Blenheim Progress

Work continues on the Blenheim restoration, with as many as a dozen volunteers working at various times. Tuesday night each week is the scheduled work night. Anywhere from six to twelve people have been turning up to help.

The partial reskinning and repair of the starboard wing is nearly completed as this is written and the port wing should be in the shop shortly. The engines are being cosmetically restored. The port engine is presently painted and ready to be moved out of the shop to make room for its mate. By mid May the engines should be ready for mounting on the airframe. The exhaust collector rings will be repaired by local welder and Society friend, Neil Wilson.

Long time member and friend, Maurice Galli, from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, has offered to sandblast the undercarriage and paint the whole aircraft for material costs. What great members we have!

With help like this, the aircraft will be ready for the August 12 dedication day.

URGENT! Can You Help Us Find Three Prop Parts Like The One Shown Here??

The Society’s Blenheim restoration is still in need of three more propeller counterweight arms for the Blenheim restoration, as pictured above. We would be grateful for any leads toward obtaining these. They can be non-airworthy condition as the Blenheim is being restored as static display.

Due to the generosity of the British Columbia Aviation Museum at Sidney, B.C., in supplying us with the prop hub outer case we can now assemble the propellers once the counterweight arms are obtained. Our grateful thanks to BCAM!

Hunters Moon And The Hunted

The photo below is of an original painting by Allan King, of Lethbridge, AB. It was painted in honour of this brother who was lost during WWII.

Allan, himself a WWII veteran, donated this painting to the NLS museum through the Royal Canadian Legion #4 of Lethtbridge. It was accepted on behalf of the Society by NLS secretary, Jim and Pauline Wiersma, and president Dan Fox, at a Legion #4 meeting in February.

The painting is unique. When viewed from different positions, the on-coming Lancaster in the painting appears to be always headed right at the viewer!

Our grateful THANKS go out to Allan King and the Lethbridge Legion for adding this unique painting to our collection.

Frances Walsh (First Canadian Woman To Recieve The George Medal)

Now on display in the museum is a small but very significant display depicting the bravery of an Alberta woman who tried to rescue an airman from a crashed and burning aircraft during WWII.

On November 10, 1941, a Tiger Moth aircraft from No. 2 Wireless School in Calgary crashed in the yard of Big Hills Springs School north of Cochrane, Alberta. Even though he had been injured in the crash and his clothes were on fire, the trainee aboard the aircraft, L.A.C. Karl Gravel, attempted to rescue the pilot from the burning wreckage.

Frances Walsh, the teacher at the school, “displayed great personal courage and coolness” in rushingnto the fire, dragging L.A.C. Gravel from the flames, and rolling him on the ground to extinguish the flames which by this point had completely enveloped his clothing. Mrs. Walsh suffered burns to her arms, hands, and face but made no comment regarding her own injuries until medical officers had cared for the injured airman.

Sadly, the aircraft’s pilot, F/O James Robinson had been killed instantly in the crash and L.A.C. Gravel died later in hospital. He was awarded the George Cross for his attempt to save his pilot.

Frances Walsh was awarded the George Medal, one of the highest civilian awards available at the time, for her unselfish acts. The presentation was made in Rideau Hall by the Governor General. It was the first time a Canadian woman had received the award.

Mrs. Walsh’s family has placed the medal on long-term loan with the Society.

Frances Walsh – George Medal display

Lancaster Restoration

While not much work related to the Lancaster took place over winter, it is expected that May-June will see some major activity. At that time, Paul and Peter Whitfield will be here again. They have a tentative schedule drawn up to work on several of the aircraft’s components, including the engines, the wiring, gas lines, etc., and completing the cockpit Perspex installation.

Peter Whitfield has been in touch with the National Air Museum in Ottawa regarding the loan of their H2S bubble for making molds so that bubbles can be made for ourselves and others. Making this could take place this year if a way can be found to do it economically.
Charley Cobb, from Calgary, who has been volunteering since lash year, has experience with aircraft electrical wiring. Once a wiring schedule is approved by NLS, he will likely be involved in this.

Your Society has helped other Lancaster projects in the past year. Our “jacking cups” were sent to the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum at Greenwood, N.S., to help them get their Lanc on its wheels. It is apparently in a shop at present being cleaned up and repainted.
Our Society is also in touch with the Toronto Aero Space Museum, who moved Lancaster FM104 inside their hangar last fall from its pylon at the National Exhibition Grounds. It is hoped that our two museums can be of mutual help to each other in the future.


In the foreground, Bob Long, local rep for Mobil Oil, works on one of the Blenheim wings along with AME Greg Morrison (centre) and NLS director, Bob Braid, it the background, on a Tuesday work night.

Volunteer, John Philips, from High River has cleaned and upgraded all the Lanc crew displays. John is a regular on Tuesday work nights and has done everything from paint to repair radios.

High River Aviation Services

One of the many supporters of the NLS Air Museum is High River Aviation Services, located at the High River, Alberta, airport.

Murray Frame, the owner/manager has helped your Society over the years in many ways, one being the ordering of restoration supplies in quatntity and passing on smaller portions to us at his cost. As well, Murray has freely given us advice that has enabled us to get started on the “right foot,” so to speak, with some of our projects.

We extend our grateful THANKS to Murray for his interest and assistance.

Late Breaking News

Work has started on the pouring the concrete floor in the expanded area of the museum hangar! This should be completed before May 30, 2000.

Your Society decided to install “in-floor” heating pipe in the floor for future heating of this 7200 sq. ft. area of the hangar. The total cost of the project is $33,000.

“Hands on” exhibit of a cutaway Jacobs engine donated by museum members,
Peter Maclin, High River, and Alvin Berger, Nanton.

The visitor can turn the engine over by hand and view the cylinder and valve train
going through their cycles as the crank shaft is turned.

THANKS to Peter and Alvin for their generosity.

Mrs. Elsie Manford sent us the above photo of her husband, Former W.O. WAG, Malcolm Manford, manning the restored rear turret when the couple visited the museum about four years ago.

In Memoriam For

Patricia (Pat) Pedersen

* Patricia “Pat” Pedersen *
High River, Alberta.
On February 6, 2000, the Nanton Lancaster Society lost a good friend.
Patrticia Pedersen passed away after a long battle with health problems. She took great pride in the museum and had adopted the Pathfinder’s motto, “Press on Regardless.” Right to the end she did not let her problems get her down.

Throughout her 10 years with the Society, Pat served on the board of directors, as gift shop coordinator, and attended air shows with the travelling display. Over the years she attended some 23 such events. Her favorite activity was restoration work on the Anson.

No matter what she was working on, whenever an extra hand was needed, Pat was there to help. when the T-33 was being made ready for display Pat was right in there, removing paint with the rest of us. At the time she was recovering from open heart surgery. No matter what the occasion she was forever bringing a smile to someone’s face.

Pat leaves behind her husband Rob and 12 year old daughter Krysta.

The Society will be adding a special memorial display to the museum honouring Pat Pedersen.

* Bill Prince *
Stoke on Trent, England
Our Society was saddened to hear that Bill Prince, of Stoke on Trent, England, passed away suddenly in February.

Many of our members will remember Bill and his wife Margaret were our very special guests at last year’s major function which honoured Bill’s father, Sgt. Albert Stanley Prince, the first Canadian airman killed during WWII. Bill, along with Jim Foster, a cousin of Albert’s, had helped to unveil the permanent display honouring his father and all other servicemen who gave their lives during WWII.

The Society extends condolences to the Prince family in their loss.

* Delbert “Del” Todd *
Calgary, Alberta (formerly of Nanton), served with the RCAF during WWII as an airframe mechanic.

* Lois Yeoman *
Edmonton, Alberta, friend of the Society, passed away in late 1999. Lois was a sister of W.O. (WAG) Aldon Cottam, killed on the Dams Raid.

* Don Vance *
Marysville, B.C. Long time member – donator of the “400” squadron plaques and many other artifacts.

* Jim Dow *
DSO DFC & Bar – Winnipeg, Manitoba – passed away February 22, 2000. Jim attended our 1996 Dedication Event. He was an observer who frew over 100 ops; 70 with the PFF including 45 with 635 Sqd. He became a Squadron Leader and is thought to be the most highly decorated navigator in the RCAF. He was Ian Bazalgette’s room-mate for a while as well.

* Stan Dowhan *
Canmore, Alberta, NLS member passed away in January, 2000.

The Nanton Lascaster Society and all its members extend deepest sympathy
to the families and fnriends of these former members.
May God bless.

Copyright 2010, Nanton Lancaster Society