August 6 – Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum – Hamilton

It was quite a full day today. We went out to the Brantford Airport early to get the airplane ready for our journey westward. After we topped up full fuel and add some oil it was then off to Hamilton, the airport where I learned to fly 50 years earlier.

Here is a view of the final approach to the runway where I had my first solo flight in a Piper Colt on July 19, 1967.

High on my list of priorities was to visit the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. I had contacted them the day before to arrange for parking so we ended up with VIP parking in front of the museum. The on-duty marshaller guided us in and we were met by the museum’s Chief Pilot, Leon Evans. 

Pictured with us in front of the Avro Lancaster bomber is Leon and also James Bradley, the son of the founder of the CWH Museum, Dennis Bradley. 

There is quite a nice restaurant at the museum and many of the volunteers and pilots were just finishing their morning coffee. Leon arranged for one of them to be our guide, a nice follow, John, just retired from Air Canada. John ensured our access to the aircraft and other areas that would normally be restricted.

I had planned for this shot for quite a while of the Lancaster with the Canada Flag hanging out of the pilot’s cockpit window  and was really pleased that it all came together.

In July, 1977 I flew from Hamilton to Goderich to see this Lancaster that had been on display, and neglected, for many years. With me was a student, Eric Grove, who had been a World War II pilot flying the Lancaster. Eric had been shot down over Germany, bailed out and was a prisoner of war for quite some time. After many, many years away from aviation Eric was now enjoying his training to obtain a Private Pilot Licence.

I took several photos that day, July 22, 1977, of this Lancaster prior to its restoration. On this day in 2017 I presented copies of those photos to the museum, and those photos are now on-board the Lancaster in the aircraft library.

The cockpit was rather small and required a bit of gymnastics to get seated without bumping any levers or switches.

Valerie made her way forward to find the “passenger compartment”.

Not the quietest seat on the airplane; note the hearing muffs and the lack of insulation on the cabin walls.

John escorted us to see several aircraft being readied for flight.

During World War II, many of these aircraft, the Consolidated Canso  were based in Victoria, BC at Patricia Bay, as maritime patrol aircraft searching far out across the Pacific Ocean.

Canso – Canada Flag out the cockpit hatch

Canso – John seemed so proud to be sharing the day with us.

Valerie was taking care of the photos. Note the B-25 Mitchell in the background along with a Harvard.

Valerie got a ride back to the museum on the “mule”.

Model of the Avro Arrow

F-86 Saber

Hawker Hurricane

Spitfire – one of my favourites

It was nice to see that the museum recognized also catered to their “Little Visitors”.

Back at the coffee shop we were talking to several of the volunteers and one person seem vaguely familiar, his name as well, Marc Ploffe. It turned out that I had met Marc many, many years ago when I was at the Mohawk College and we were both in the Mohawk College Flying Club. Small world.

It was time to head back to Brantford so after thanking the great folks at the museum we headed out. The big hangar on the right is where I worked as a flight instructor in the late ’70s.

After takeoff I circled around the Hamilton airport for an overhead view to show Captain Waypoint where I had learned to fly.

The evening was enjoyed sharing a family dinner with my niece Lyn and Randy, and also my brother Eric and Joanne and Valerie’s brother Bill and Provie.