Over the past month, the Alberta Aviation Museum was saddened to learn about the passing of two keystone volunteers that contributed towards the establishment of our museum and helped chart its journey towards being the outstanding facility that we know today: Al Lyons and Paul Tymchuk
Part of the original crew of 25-30 aviation enthusiast who worked to form the museum, Al Lyons passed away on May 9th, at the age of 97.
In July of 1991, the organization had successfully gained permission to move their operations to historic Hangar 14, the very hangar where the museum is stationed today. Having served as a former car dealership, the building had fallen into great disrepair. There was a lot of work to do. It was Al Lyons that stepped up to the plate with Reg Roberts to head the newly formed construction committee.
Through Al’s leadership and tireless efforts, the committee was able to work to bring the historic building up to code. The committee had successfully replaced all of the windows on the east side of the building, replaced walls, and helped scrounge up machine supplies to support ongoing restoration projects. Al was known for identifying a need and soliciting collaborative support to find creative solutions. Al was able to donate extra time towards coordinating the installation of a comprehensive sprinkler and firewall system. This achievement exceeded the initial expectations of property agreement with the City of Edmonton, solidifying our ongoing partnership that still exists to this day!
Al continued to serve many roles well into the early 2000’s including 2 years as Board President. He was also involved in starting the B-25 restoration project, numerous volunteer recruitment campaigns, and the renovation of our museum research library.
Paul “Pancho” Tymchuk
Another original volunteer crew member of the museum, Paul “Pancho” Tymchuk sadly passed away on May 19th.
Born in Edmonton, Paul Tymchuk developed a knack for fixing things that led him to study automotive mechanics at SAIT. Owning and operating a service station in Edmonton and happy to work on cars, Paul’s life changed in 1960s when he met bush pilot and war hero Ced Mah at Cooking Lake. The two soon became best friends, and Tymchuk started a long career as an aircraft maintenance engineer. He resisted getting an official license, not wanting to be tied down by being licensed, but found work all across Alberta and the Northwest Territories. He flew as an engineer with Ced Mah in Merlyn Carter’s Otter, with Charlie Fix on his Cessna 180, and Mike Hackman on Beavers. In 1965 Chuck McLaren hired him at El Dorado Aviation. As he had no seniority, Tymchuk was denied his request to take a vacation to Mexico – so he quit every year to travel south and was always rehired when he returned. His fondness for vacationing in Mexico led McClaren to give him the nickname “Pancho.”
Pancho spent many years up north, engineering for Joe McBryan’s Buffalo Air, and Fred Carmichael in Inuvik. Although unlicensed, he was proud of his careful and detailed work. At least twice in his career he caught two critical maintenance issues that likely would have killed people had they not been addressed.
When an intrepid group of volunteers were launching the Alberta Aviation Museum, Tymchuk again worked alongside Chuck McClaren and helped get Hangar 14 into shape for our 1992 opening and was a frequent volunteer for almost thirty years.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
-Leonardo da Vinci