Story and photos by John Chalmers
Our wonderful museum is now showcased in a new book! Entitled Alberta Aviation Museum: 30 Years of Progress, the book was launched on September 25 at our annual Open Cockpit Day.
The book is full of both historic photos and new colour images presented in a highly readable format. Black and white photos on the covers emphasize the historical aspects of aviation, and new full-page colour photos illustrate the aircraft in our collection.
As well, stories of 17 individuals are carried in the book about men and women who are important figures in Edmonton’s aviation history. They include Edmonton-born Russell Bannock, a decorated Mosquito pilot of the Second World War who served as commanding officer of 418 RCAF (City of Edmonton) Squadron and later as president of de Havilland Canada. The de Havilland Mosquito in the museum commemorates Russ Bannock in one of our largest displays.
Edmonton-born Max Ward is also featured, a man who started in the aviation business as a bush pilot and ultimately built an airline, Wardair, known for its high-quality service on international flights.
Two other important figures in Edmonton aviation history were Tommy Fox and Don Hamilton. Fox served with the RAF during the war and later built Associated Airways and Associated Helicopters in Edmonton, serving northern Canada and the DEW Line. After serving with the RCAF during the war, Hamilton flew as a northern bush pilot, then established Hamilton Aviation in Edmonton and built Air Spray Ltd. into one of Canada’s biggest aerial fire fighting fleets.
Margaret Littlewood was hired by famed aviator Wop May to serve as a Link Trainer instructor for No. 2 Air Observer School when it was located in the hangar during the war and Wop was manager of the school. American aviatrix Katherine Stinson flew the first airmail in western Canada, from Calgary to Edmonton on July 9, 1918, in her custom-built Curtiss Special biplane.
Brent Abbott, chairman of the museum’s board, served also as chairman of the ad hoc committee that produced the book. “I was aware of some of the dynamic and adventurous people involved with aviation in Edmonton and Alberta,” he says, “and it was apparent that we had capable and talented individuals who could put together a book that would tell the stories of both people and our aircraft.”
Topics in the book include thematic presentation of Early Aviation, The Roaring Twenties, Bush Flying, the Second World War, the Cold War and Contemporary Civil Aviation. The photo montages on the covers and inside pages comprise a visual cross-section of Canadian civilian and military history.
Over a period of a year and a half, the committee of three employees and six volunteers prepared the book. The result is a publication that serves as far more than just a souvenir of the museum. It is a valuable information and reference resource for visitors.
“Our book illustrates 30 years of fortitude and determination of a group of aviation minded individuals’ achievements and the aircraft that are a part of our history,” says Jean Lauzon, executive director of the museum. “It is important for us to learn about the legacy left behind by those founders and builders. To know where we are going, we need to learn where we came from, and the focus of the museum is to share that legacy and rich history for all those who enter our museum.”
Our Volunteer Coordinator, Erica d’Haene, ready to provide visitors with their copy on Open Cockpit Day, September 25, the day the book was launched. Treat yourself to a copy of the book by picking it up at the museum. Out-of-towners may order the book from the museum, c/o marketing manager Nicholas Mather, at 780-451-1175 or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. Price of the book is $29.95 plus GST and shipping. You can also order the book online from the museum’s web site when you click here. For members of the Alberta Aviation Museum Association, the cost is only $19.95. The book makes a great gift for yourself or a Christmas gift for someone else!