The ANJ team recently had the opportunity to visit the Canadian Museum of Flight at Langley Regional Airport in British Columbia. We spoke to general manager Dave Arnold to find out more about the museum and its beautiful vintage aircraft.
The museum originally came into existence as the Canadian Museum of Flight and Transportation during the 1970s, when a group of aviation enthusiasts attempted to keep vintage aircraft in Canada, at a time when many of these historically significant aircraft were being sold to collectors in the USA and Europe. In 1996, the museum was relocated from Surrey, its original home, to Langley Airport. Then, two years later, the museum’s name was changed to the Canadian Museum of Flight. Today, the museum continues to collect, restore, preserve and maintain aircraft and artifacts relevant to aviation history. In addition, the organization serves to educate the general public and generate awareness of the aviation industry. To accomplish this, the museum relies on a core group of about 25 volunteers, although a larger group of volunteers help out on special occasions, such as airshows.
The Canadian Museum of Flight is home to an impressive collection of static and flying aircraft. One of the most interesting of these is a Handley Page Hampden Second World War bomber, which happens to be one of three surviving examples in the world. This particular aircraft crashed into the ocean during a torpedo training flight in 1942. After a lengthy and challenging process, the Hampden’s restoration to static display condition was completed in 1998.
Visitors are allowed to climb into the cockpits of some of the museum’s aircraft, such as its Sikorsky S-55 helicopter, Beechcraft Expeditor transport aircraft, as well as its
ever-popular Lockheed CF-104 Starfighter.
Other non-flying aircraft range from a Canadair CT-114 Tutor to a Conair Firecat and Douglas DC-3. Also, the Museum’s hangar is packed with fascinating artifacts, engines and beautifully restored aircraft.
Regular airshow-goers in BC will be familiar with the museum’s flying aircraft, which include replicas of Sopwith Pup and SE.5A World War I-era fighters, a Fleet 16B
Finch Mk.II trainer, Fleet 80 Canuck light aircraft, as well
as a stunning 1937 Waco Cabin.
A few years ago, the museum was tasked with building two Sopwith Pup replicas to participate in commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in France, held in April 2017. In addition to these two aircraft, the museum’s SE.5A was transported to France to participate in the ceremonies. While the Pups were used in static displays, the SE.5A completed a flypast of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in northern France. Having completed their mission, the three aircraft were returned to the museum’s facilities in BC.
There is quite a bit more to the Canadian Museum of Flight than has been briefly covered in this article. The museum is certainly worth a visit, and so is its website, www.canadianflight.org, which has a wealth of information on all its aircraft and engines, not to mention news on its restoration projects.
Originally published in the January-February 2020 edition of ANJ.