RETAIN, RESTORE, HONOUR and EDUCATE
Aviation history is an important component of Canada’s identity, especially our role during and after World War II. As time continues to march on, many of these marvelous war time machines and the valiant men who flew them are disappearing, taking with them the evocative and heroic stories of Canada’s contribution to world history.
In 1954, Spartan Aviation of Ottawa purchased 15 World War II Mosquito bomber aircraft from the British government and brought them to Canada to fulfill photo mapping contracts, in which, for the first time, all of Canada was mapped using aerial cameras. As world leaders in aerial photo mapping, Spartan used the aircraft throughout Northern Canada, West Africa, South and Central America until 1962.
Upon retirement, one of the Mosquitoes was sold to a group in Calgary which sought to establish an aviation museum in the City. When this organization failed in the late 1960s, the City of Calgary took ownership and possession of the Mosquito and a dozen other vintage aircraft.
In 2012, after a five year campaign to prevent the overseas sale of the aircraft, the City of Calgary signed a contract with the Calgary Mosquito Aircraft Society allowing us to take possession of the Mosquito and Hurricane so that they could finally be restored. The Society has subcontracted the restoration of the Hurricane to a professional aircraft restoration company in Wetaskiwin, AB while focusing its volunteer efforts on the restoration of the Mosquito in space provided by the Bomber Command Museum of Canada, located in Nanton, AB.
The Hurricane will be restored as it served during WWII in 133 Squadron on Canada’s west coast. The Mosquito will be restored as it flew and served in Canada with Spartan Air Services, making it the only non-military Mosquito in the world. The aircraft will not be flown, but both will be brought to ground running, or taxi status. Upon completion, both will be returned to the City of Calgary.
In addition to the physical restoration of the two aircraft, our mandate is also to Honour and Educate; Honour those who designed, built, flew and serviced these aircraft in wartime and in peace and to Educate ourselves and others about the significant place in Canadian history of these rare machines and the pivotal work they did.
Since acquiring the aircraft in 2012, we’ve built new steel jigs for the Mosquito fuselage and wing, acquired a very rare original Wild aerial camera, tracked down and purchased wartime de Havilland specification birch plywood, scrounged missing parts from around the world and begun the delicate and exacting work of repairing the structural damage to the Mosquito fuselage.
We’ve sub-contracted the restoration of the Hurricane to Historic Aviation Services in Wetaskiwin, AB., while we retain the airplane’s Merlin engine in Nanton where we have brought it back to running status so that visitors can enjoy the sight and sound of the Hurricane’s mighty Merlin engine when the restoration is complete.
As well we have been invited to numerous international conferences to speak not just about the aircraft and the work to preserve them but to share with museum professionals around the world our unique web of partnerships with government, business and other not for profits that allowed us to prevent the sale of these airplanes overseas, to raise all the money required to restore them and to put together a team to get it all done. We’ve been told that our strategy and success in these areas is unique and based on results, very effective.
Volunteers with the Calgary Mosquito Aircraft Society meet at the Bomber Command Museum in Nanton on Tuesday evenings and Saturdays to work on the airplane.
The Calgary Mosquito Society continues to educate and engage visitors through one on one contact with visitors, group tours, providing speakers and in creating a series of videos showcasing interviews with people who were involved with flying the Mosquito and Hurricane and with historians who have studied the people and the circumstances of the times.
We have a series of 30 short videos, fifteen on each airplane, available on a touchscreen adjacent to the aircraft, uploaded to our YouTube channel and on DVD. Hear the harrowing tales of two of Canada’s highest scoring WWII aces who actually flew these very airplanes. Learn about how Canada and Spartan Air Services were leading the world in the business and technology of aerial photo mapping in the 1950s and ’60s and how this company ended up spanning the globe with its fleet of over 120 aircraft. Share in our pride as you hear about Elsie McGill, crowned ‘Queen of the Hurricane’s who in wartime had a comic book dedicated to her ground breaking work as Production Supervisor of Canadian made Hurricanes and likely the world’s first female aircraft design engineer.
We’ve raised all the money we need to restore both aircraft to running condition. We’ve gathered an excellent team of professional engineers and enthusiastic amateurs to see the job done and to see these rare, historic and beautiful airplanes brought back to their former glory.
In the world of vintage aircraft, or ‘warbirds’, these are two of the rarest, most historic and beautiful flying machines ever created. Of the 7781 Mosquitoes built, just 30 remain today with only three currently in flying condition. Ours will be the only one restored to honour its place as a groundbreaking civilian workhorse.
Over 14,500 Hurricanes were produced with only 45 surviving today. Though overshadowed by the Spitfire during the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane shot down more enemy aircraft than any other type and served in every theater of WWII from day one to its finish in August 1945.
Imagine having a hand in bringing them back to life!
Members are welcome to apply their skills, or learn some new ones. We’ve been accused by critics who wanted to see the Mosquito sold to a collector in England of being ‘overenthusiasitic amateurs’. We’ve put that on a shirt and wear it with pride! Imagine at the end of a voluteer work day, or when the aircraft are complete, being able to stand back with pride to say ‘I had a hand in that’. We guarantee a smile.
Or come down any Saturday to witness history being rebuilt! We are more than happy to share our passion and the stories of the men and women who made history with these aircraft in wartime and in peace.
If you are interested in volunteering drop us a line at: [email protected]
Additional information, including our Society’s purpose and goals can be found on our website: www.calgarymosquitosociety.com Join us and stay informed and in touch!