Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Engines, Exhaust Pipes, and Oily drip Pans

Ok, so girls, you may not want to read this blog post. I’m afraid it is about my visit to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton Ontario, and I admit it, I love the engines, exhausts and oily drip pans. This one may not interest you.

On the way back from Niagara-on-the-lake I decided to stop at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum with my daughter’s significant other, Mark, who was really interested in visiting this attraction. It is a really nice museum featuring Canada’s aviation history with an emphasis on warplanes from the Second World War. What is interesting about this museum is that it is a working restoration and maintenance facility. As you walk around, you see the planes as they are being worked upon.

This is not a government museum, it is a charitable foundation started by two friends with a love of old planes. They started with a Fairey Firefly, that needed restoration, and now have over 40 planes in a hanger at Hamilton Airport. Their most significant airplane is a Lancaster bomber from world war two that is one of only two currently flying. Their mandate is to maintain a collection of aircraft from the second world war to the present, but a visit to their facility clearly shows that a strong emphasis has been placed on actually maintaining and flying these planes. Rather than sitting safely in a museum, the planes of the Canadian Warplanes Heritage Museum are used, the engines run, and they are flown on a regular basis.

As I walked around the museum, it was fascinating to see these planes being restored and maintained. One side of the museum is a working restoration facility, and you can see the planes in various stages of completion, and you can read about the trials and tribulations of the process. As I walked around, the huge Lancaster bomber was sitting in the middle of the hanger surrounded by people actively working on it. I watched as new tires and brakes were installed and the four massive Rolls Royce/Packard engines were exposed and being worked upon.

A closer look at the group of people working on the planes shows a mixed group of mostly older grey-haired airplane technicians, because although the foundation does have paid employees, 100% of the work done on these amazing planes is performed by volunteers doing it out of a love of Canada’s avation history. As I toured the facility I asked one gentleman who was cleaning a B25 Mitchell Bomber if the engines worked. He explained that any plane that had an oily drip tray under the engine could be started and flown. As I continued my tour I discovered that most of the planes had a dented oil stained metal tray under the engines. I was told that the Lancaster Bomber was being maintained for a transatlantic fright to England for a tour.
Interested in taking a flight? One way the foundation raises money to maintain the planes is to take people up for flights. The price varies depending on the plane, but I was told that someone had given over $200,000.00 to be on the Lancaster’s upcoming flight to England.

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