Volume 16, Issue 1 - January 1999
Editor: Greg Sigurdson ~ Dirk Aberson
CONTACT is the official publication of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of aircraft and artifacts related to the the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
|Circuits and Bumps
- Letters to CONTACT
CATPM Ladies' Corner
MOVERS AND MAKERS IN A BOLINGBROKE WORLD
1997-1998 CATPM Annual Report
Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museums Foundation Report - 1997-1998
MOVERS AND MAKERS IN A BOLINGBROKE WORLD
How long does it take a Bristol Bolingbroke Mark IV to make the trip, one mile south-southwest, from the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum to the Comfort Inn Motel? If this was 1943 and the Boly made the trip under its own power at a top speed of 260 miles per hour, the answer would be..... about 14 seconds. But we live in a world where Bolingbrokes don't fly anymore, in fact.... it's a world where Boly's hardly exist anymore. So to get a Bolingbroke, in a condition presentable to the public and moved from the museum to the motel, the answer is.... about three years with a considerable amount of hard work from a very dedicated crew of Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum volunteers.
The museum's second Bolingbroke began it's new life when it was brought from the museum storage compound to Hangar #1 in 1995 where the first order of business was to unload it from its transport trailer (Figure 1), remove, by the shovelful, the good prairie soil which had blown into its interior after its 45 year hibernation in a farmer's field and bring it into the restoration shop. Our dedicated team (Figure 2) of Boly makers took on the task of bringing back the dignity and looks of what this aircraft once was. For the original four restorers (Ted joined after this project had started), this was their second Bolingbroke restoration. Their first Boly reamins in Hangar #1 as a permanent static display. As is typical of any project at the CATP Museum, other volunteers pitched in whenever an extra pair of hands was needed.
The initial objective was to restore this Boly to a condition suitable for pedestal display at a high-traffic location to attract visitors to the museum. This meant, lightening the load as much as possible without compromising its structure. As such, any unnecessary equipment was removed from the interior. It was not until 1998 that the Boly's current display location at the Comfort Inn on Middleton Avenue in Brandon was determined and the decision made to not mount it on a pedestal.
Eighty-six year old Jack Kerr brought to this project, skills learned as a civilian engine fitter and air frame mechanic at Southport, near Portage la Prairie, during the war working on Anson Mark Is and Vs. From there he went on to work with the United State Air Force in Edmonton, Alberta and onto Alaska for two years. Upon his eventual return to Brandon, Jack found employment at Modern Machine rebuilding engines until he retired at age 65. He joined the CATP Museum right at the start and says he has done just about everything at the museum including, most recently, rebuilding the two Boly's, working on the crash tender and the half-ton and sitting as President of the CATPM Seniors Wing. He is always willing to volunteer and can be seen frequently conducting tours, working the front desk and helping out at special museum events.
Earl Mitchell is also a charter member of the museum. He was 15 years old when World War II ended. He says he's been infatuated with aircraft ever since Ansons, Cranes, Harvards and other aircraft from wartime training schools at Brandon, Rivers, Neepawa and Carberry frequently passed over the family farm near Justice, Manitoba. Employed by the Canadian Pacific Railroad as a Diesel Inspector, Mechanical Supervisor and Supervisor of Motive Power and Rolling Stock for a territory covering Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Earl retired in 1986. He enjoys working in the restoration shop at the museum doing what he calls: ``bull work.'' He too, has worked on many projects since joining the museum and is currently involved with rebuilding the museum's RV trailer which is used as office and souvenir shop at special events.
Frank Bollman has been a member of the CATPM ever since that fateful day when he ran into Earl Mitchell and Archie Londry in 1986 at a presentation by Nurse Marion Ferguson about the ``Guinea Pigs'' at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, England. He never stood a chance - this persuasive pair talked him into joining and ever since, he's worked on the Boly's, the Anson V, the Cornell, Hurricane Tail and aircraft for the movie ``For The Moment.'' Like the others, Frank is ``a jack of all trades...'' who pitches in when needed. Currently, Frank is also working on the museum's trailer. He too conducts tours, works the front desk and is our current Membership Chairman. Frank was an LAC in the RCAF as an Aero Engine Mechanic. His training took him to No. 1 Manning Depot in Toronto, TTS in St. Thomas and Engine Training at Dorval. From August 1942 to September 1945, he was stationed at Boundary Bay, B.C. He returned to his home in Moline, Manitoba and worked on the family farm for 40 years until 1985 when he moved to Brandon.
Don Rollins decided to become a member of the CATP Museum after talking to a volunteer at the museum's booth at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in Brandon 12 years ago. He retired at age 65 after being a welder at Cancade's in Brandon for about 10 years. Prior to that, he was a welder for a company in Minnedosa and was a dairy farmer near Glenboro, Manitoba for 27 years. Don also is an RCAF veteran who worked as an aero-engine mechanic at No. 12 SFTS in Brandon, No. 17 SFTS in Souris Manitoba where he worked on Mark II Ansons. He went on to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan where he was discharged in 1945. Don quips that the trees and water he discovered in Manitoba during the war were decisive factors in his decision to buy a farm in Manitoba instead of resettling in his native Saskatchewan. Enjoying all work at the museum, Don spent 18 months commuting to Souris, Manitoba where the Cornell was undergoing recon-struction. He is also a two-Boly man, done some work on the Yale, does the occasional tour and enjoys maintaining the museum yard during the summer.
Ted Nickel currently works for Powell Construction in Brandon. He joined the museum about three and a half years ago because he is interested in the military. He was promptly put to work on the Bolingbroke and now heads two committees at the museum - Acquisitions and Workshop. He and the rest of the Boly restoration crew will be directing their efforts to restoring the museum's Fleet Fort which has been brought into the shop for the winter.
On Saturday, December 19, 1998, Bolingbroke 9944 made its one mile move from the museum to its display location at the Comfort Inn adjacent the Trans-Canada Highway. In addition to the restoration work completed on this Boly - extensive skeletal and skin restoration on the air frame, wings and tail, replacement of its plexiglass windows, stripping for pedestal mounting, priming, painting and re-lettering - many hours were put into facilitating the move. This included negotiations with a number of organizations including Comfort Inn management who have been wonderfully supportive in this project, the Brandon and Area Planning District and the Manitoba Department of Highways, all of whom have been very helpful. The `brain' behind this move was the museum's John McNarry who plotted the Boly's cross-country course, designed and built the towing cradle for the aircraft and `sweet-talked' the local John Deere dealer, Countryside Equipment, into lending us a four-wheel drive tractor with front-end loader for the day. Primary movers for this event also included Ted Nickel, Harry Hayward, Reg Forbes, John Robinson and Frank Bollman who braved the 30 below weather for most of that day. Typically, a number of other museum members pitched in to help for parts of the day.
Preparatory work took up most of the morning with small modifications being made to the towing cradle and Boly 9944 being manhandled out of the CATPM Hangar by volunteers. The aircraft's back wheel was hooked up to the tractor by means of the McNarry Towing Cradle and taken for a test drive to a point just a little southwest of the museum. Activities resumed after a quick lunch and Boly 9944 made the trip by road to the west entrance of McGill field which had clearance for the Boly's 56 foot wingspan.From there, with John at the wheel, the Boly went cross-country for about a mile, over a small hill and into the back parking lot of the motel. At that point, the aircraft was unhooked from the tow cradle and pulled with cable and millimeters of clearance, past the motel's entrance and on to a grassed and treed clearing in front of the motel. Saturday's work came to a close with the moving crew placing cement pads under the landing gear and cabling the aircraft to the pads to prevent any unscheduled flights during a blustery Manitoba day. The next day, John and Harry returned to mount the landing gear on specially designed mounts.
In the spring, a sign with the following inscription will be located next to Boly 9944.
This Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IV is representative of the many aircraft used in both training and operations during WWII. Bolingbroke 9944 carries the registration number of one which crashed 12 miles north of the aerodrome at Paulson, Manitoba on July 07, 1943. Killed in the this crash were: Warrant Officer R.D. Mathers (RCAF), Leading Aircraftman P.A. Trudel (RCAF), and Leading Aircraftman N.M. Glenday (RNZAF).
The aircraft displayed here was rebuilt by the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum with assistance from the Manitoba Department of Culture Heritage and Citizenship and is preserved in memory of all of the Canadians, British, Australians, New Zealanders, Americans and others who gave their lives while training in Canada.
We may be biased, but the sight of Bolingbroke 9944 in its park-like setting at the Comfort Inn is truly beautiful. It should be especially gratifying to those who were undaunted by the magnitude of this accomplishment and made it happen. The Boly restoration crew deserves a lion's share of credit for this undertaking and we are sure that they too, are thankful to the large complement of others who assisted along the way.
COMMONWEALTH AIR TRAINING PLAN MUSEUM
1997-1998 ANNUAL REPORT
In the 1997-1998 Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum fiscal year, much consideration was given to the future of our museum. Maintenance of our current home, Hangar #1, is becoming increasingly impractical without major repairs. Several options to solve this problem, including the construction of a new facility, were considered. After a preliminary examination of the facility, a decision was made to undertake a comprehensive feasibility study to determine the manner and cost of preserving our home which, in itself, is an artifact of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). A major conclusion of this study is that Hangar #1 could be rendered useable for the foreseeable future given a unique repair of the roof trusses, a new roof and other major repairs.
The feasibility study, compiled by Bernhard Consulting in cooperation with the Aldis Corp and Cohlmeyer Associates, called for the development of five year business and marketing plans. The museum received financial assistance for this study from the Thomas Sill Foundation and the Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage and Citizenship. As the 1997-1998 fiscal year drew to a close, various recommendations from the feasibility study were being implemented. While museum members concentrated efforts on a renewal of the physical plant and operations methods, normal activities continued.
Work continued on the restoration of the Cessna Crane toward eventual airworthy status. The two Jacobs L4 engines have been rebuilt and run-up, the propellers have been overhauled, the undercarriage restored and much of the wiring and fuselage framework is nearing completion. The wing is ready for doping and painting.
After four years of restoration efforts, the museum's second Bolingbroke is ready for display at a site located near the museum beside the Trans-Canada highway. The intent of this display is to show aircraft technology from the 1939-1945 era as well as to draw public attention to the existence of the CATP Museum. The Boly carries the number 9944 which was the registration number of a Bolingbroke which crashed 10 miles from the #7 Bombing and Gunnery School at Paulson, Manitoba on July 27, 1943. Two Canadians, WO R.D. Mathers of Stayner, Ontario and LAC P.E. Trudel of Victoria, British Columbia, and one New Zealander, LAC N.M. Glenday, were killed in this crash. The display is dedicated to the commemoration of the 850 young men who were killed in training in the BCATP.
Work continues on the Hurricane and the 1940 Ford Fuel Tender.
The CATP Museum maintains four airworthy Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) trainers - a Harvard, a Tiger Moth, a Stinson 105 and a Cornell.
At the request of the family of a famous, former airman, a fly-by tribute at his funeral in Winnipeg was carried-out by our Cornell. One month later, another memorial fly-past for a former RCAF pilot was completed by this same aircraft.
The Harvard, Cornell and Tiger Moth attended the Thunder Bay Air Show at the end of August 1998. The real challenge in attending this air show was finding a route to and from the show in which the longest leg was short enough for the Tiger Moth's limited range. With Jim Tufts at the controls, the Tiger Moth was able to complete this trip while adding 19 hours to the aircraft's flight log. This aircraft also attended the Thresherman's Reunion in Austin, Manitoba where it was a popular attraction alongside antique tractors and farm implements of similar vintage.
On a beautiful day in September 1998, a number of our hard-working volunteers were rewarded with flights in the Cornell and Harvard.
Inclement weather prohibited attendance of our aircraft at a few air shows and fly-pasts. The primary purposes of flying museum aircraft are to promote the museum and acquaint the public with the nature of aircraft technology which served so well in training aircrew for World War II. Operation costs for the Tiger Moth were generously underwritten through a sponsorship courtesy of Cando Contracting of Brandon, Manitoba.
As part of CATP Museum community outreach objectives, a practice of preparing displays for communities celebrating memorial events was adopted. Each display contains biographical data from the CATP Museum memorial book ``They Shall Grow Not Old'' concerning members of the relevant community who gave their lives while in service of the RCAF during the war. In communities where BCATP training fields were established, biographies of trainees who met their demise in these locations while training, are also included in the displays. Also included are photographs related to the community and those being honoured. CATP Museum photo reproduction technician Lyle Gawletz is responsible for the development of these engaging works. The displays, which are donated to the community - usually the local Legion - after the commemoration service, have been well received and help remind all people, including youngsters, of the sacrifices for freedom paid by the young men and women from their community.
The listing of training casualties at specific training establishments have also been provided by the CATP Museum to groups holding reunions at those locations.
MUSEUM TOURS & VISITS
A partial listing of air-oriented group meetings which were hosted by the CATP Museum over the past year includes The Canadian Aeornautical Preservation Association, The Organization of Military Museums of Canada and National Soaring Championship attendees. We were also favoured with visits from a large group from the Western Canada Aviation Museum and a number of tour groups from the United States.
Over 600 people attended a 30th anniversary celebration for Shur-Gro Farm Services Ltd. which was held at the CATP Museum. Festivities included a beef buffet dinner provided by a local hotel, a few short speeches and individual tours of the museum.
Over 20 school tours of the museum were accommodated with veterans, with first-hand knowledge of wartime training and operations, conducting the tour groups whenever possible.
The CATP Museum continues to be operated by volunteers with the exception of two student employees who were hired for the summer with assistance from the Government of Manitoba Careerstart program. We were favoured with dedicated, personable and sharp-minded youth as employees in the summer of 1998. It is a tribute to people of the current young generation to note their interest in what transpired during the World War II era.
As the fiscal year drew to a close, the Manitoba Department of Culture Heritage & Citizenship selected our museum as a Special Theme Museum. This special recognition will provide us with a yearly grant to hire a manager.
We do have difficulty in properly responding to all of the varied nature of inquiries regarding individuals associated with, and the purpose of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. We are currently processing inquiries about training stations and events from Holland, Belgium, England and the USA. We regret that we do not have the resources to fully research and respond to these inquiries but we have been able to respond in a positive manner to all requests from established museums abroad.
The data contained in one of the museum's most popular exhibits - The Barber's Book, which contains the signatures, service numbers, home towns and dates trainees received a haircut while at No. 2 Manning Depot - is being entered into a computer database to ease the task for those looking for entries of friends and loved-ones.
Museum staff continue to carry out a number of promotional displays and information booths. A particularly productive event was at the Polo Park Shopping Centre in Winnipeg where a number of Winnipeg members made some good contacts. During the course of this event, the CATPM's Jeff Stephenson met with Lt.Col. Mike Sweeney (ret'd) who, in turn, arranged meetings with personnel from the #17 Wing CFB Winnipeg. These meetings have fostered a great working relationship between our group and Air Command.
The museum is fortunate to have enjoyed the support of Brandon's Shur-Gro Farm Services Ltd. and CKLQ Radio who gifted us with a large number of radio spots encouraging visitors to come see our facility. Similarly, the Brandon Economic Development Board Tourist Information Booth numerous articles in the Brandon Sun and on CKX Radio and Television, CJRB Radio, CBC Radio and other media outlets have greatly assisted in informing the public about our facility and mission.
The annual CATPM Dinner & Dance was held on October 23, 1998 and was a great success, due in large part to the good work of the museum's social convener, Helena Gillis, with help from Judy Grierson and Delia Milne. A special thanks goes out to the Rice Financial Group and Leech Printing which sponsored the costs of wine and tickets respectively, for this event.
The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum Cash Raffle, under the direction of Don Forsberg, yielded a profit of over $10,000. With a truly generous gesture, our 1st Prize winner, Bruce Betcher, donated his winnings to the museum.
Sales of the CATPM memorial book ``They Shall Grow Not Old'' continue at a steady pace and we were especially pleased with the Western Region of Heritage Canada which purchased 50 copies of the book for distribution throughout the country.
Our photo reproduction tech Lyle Gawletz continues to develop dioramas and displays.
The Ladies Auxiliary to the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum are ever supportive with help at our barbecues, contributions to the kitchen and other amenities, in collating and mailing CONTACT and generally providing help where needed. The Seniours Wing likewise contributes to our operations.
Souvenir Committee manager Elaine Chisholm has, again, done a terrific job and doubled profits from souvenir sales over the past year. Volunteer Coordinator Linda Malitaire also has done an admirable job managing our volunteer tour guides and receptionists, keeping the museum open to the public, all year around.
We regret that we cannot possibly name all of those who helped us over the past 12 months, so we collectively thank everyone - volunteers, media, donors, advisors and staff of the Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage and Citizenship, the City of Brandon, hangar-mate Maple Leaf Aviation, Brandon Airport personnel, staff and members of The Brandon Flying Club and all of those many other museum friends - who helped us in so many ways.
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