by George Dyke
June 4th was the date for Citroën Autoclub Canada’s spring road tour. This year we mixed both nature and technology in a one day jaunt to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, and then onto the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Tour participants assembled at Doug Pengelly’s house and took a leisurely backroad drive to the gardens. There we met up with local Club members Lloyd McBride and Jean Marcoux. After a walk among the flora and a mid morning snack at the Botanical Gardens restaurant, we drove over the Niagara Escarpment, and just beyond Hamilton to see a collection of vintage warplanes.
We found the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum inspiring on a number of counts: The sheer number of aircraft on display is amazing. The fact that you can walk right up to them, and can even stand under one of two remaining Lancaster WWII bombers that can still fly gives you a sense of awe and inspiration at the effort to get such technology to fly for the cause of 20th century freedom! You can sense the courage and determination of those that built them in the first place, flew them in combat, and now those who make the effort to preserve them for new generations to appreciate.
The pride of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum – A flightworthy WWII Lancaster bomber.Ingenuity!
We were given a fascinating tour by a veteran museum guide, Alan Howard, who took the time to tell us many tales of heroism, and patiently answered, in thorough detail, countless questions we had about the aircraft on display. Volunteers spend endless hours keeping the museums aircraft airworthy. There is always a full restoration or two in progress. We spent some time talking to a veteran mechanic who was working on a WWII Bolingbroke bomber. He explained how he had to be very resourceful on a number of fronts. There are virtually no parts available for these aircraft, so replacements must be fabricated. However, to meet airworthiness standards, all parts must be original or must be constructed to original specifications. While this can technically be done out of house, the cost is almost always prohibitive. Fabricating a single rib replacement on a rear wing costs well over $1,000 if contracted out, but he was able to produce it to original standards for just $5! (In materials and excluding his many hours of free labour!)
A few wood templates, aircraft aluminium sheet metal, patience and many hours of work, produce a replacement rib as good as new!
After the museum visit, Doug Pengelly led us on a driving tour through Hamilton to Peppercorns, a lovely restaurant and micro-brewery, where we dined in elegance! Thanks go to CAC members Angela Fusco, Doug Pengelly and Larry Lewis, who organized an event that was not to be missed!