Just Plane Fun - the Vintage wings Open House 2008

 Just Plane Fun

New Recruit! Vintage Wings of Canada pilot Rob Erdos advances the throttle and moves out to the runway in the beautiful Ryan PT-22 Recruit used by the United States Army Air Force for primary flight training during the Second World War. When asked what it was like to fly this remarkable beast for the first time, Rob smiled and said - “She’s a veritable time machine”. Photo: Peter Handley

At Vintage Wings of Canada’s first of two Open Houses this year, it was a day of many firsts and lots of fun and sharing. The weather was cooperative and as a result we had many unique and beautiful flying visitors as well as hundreds of like-minded aviators, veterans, children, photographers and the just plane curious.

Vintage Wings of Canada photographer Peter Handley was tasked with capturing the day in pixels and this photo essay includes just some of the remarkable record for that day with a sprinkling of notable photographs from others who sent them in. Rather than describe it to you in words, let’s let the photographs do the talking.

 Just Plane Fun 1

Mike Potter leads members of Victory Flight through a hangar floor walk-through of the day’s formation flying training before leading them in the air. Today they will be training in four Harvards, but later this month at the Ottawa Air Show they will be flying in the Victory Flight fighters. Left to right: Paul Kissmann flying the Corsair, Tim Leslie in the Mustang IV, Kent Beckham (a highly experienced Harvard pilot who flies with the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team) who will evaluate the day’s training, Mike Potter flying the Spitfire XVI and Rob Erdos in the Hurricane IV. The walk-through helps everyone to visualize the hand signals and the aircraft movements and positions prior to taking to the air. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 2

Vintage Wings of Canada pilots Kate Speer and Bob Fassold bring in a bright yellow RCAF de Havilland Chipmunk for the day. This Chipmunk is being temporarily flown by Fassold while the Vintage Wings of Canada Chipmunk which is owned by Bob, is repainted in the same bright yellow training scheme. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Sense 3

Out on the ramp, four Harvards crank engines as Mike Potter prepares to lead them in a formation training flight north of the Gatineau airport. Three of the four trainers belong to the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team from southern Ontario. Photo Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 4

Mike Potter, leading the formation of Harvards, breaks right, soon to be followed in succession by his fellow pilots. Photo Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 5

After a sweat-ringing 40 minute training flight, Potter rolls out on landing with CHAT pilot Kent Beckham snapping photos behind him. Photo Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 6

Natalie Quirt and Katy Longair, members of the Vintage Wings team man an information and recruitment booth during the open house. The booth was flanked by two display cases featuring the prolific and beautiful model work of Wayne Foy - always an attention getter. Photo Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 7

Tim Leslie welcomes visitors and friends, inviting them to feel at home. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 8

A rare and welcome visitor was the Australian-built North-American Harvard-like Wirraway (an Aborigine word for “challenge”). Built by CAC (Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation), the Wirraway was the first aircraft mass produced in Australia, some 755 copies being built. They were used as fighter-bombers against the Japanese. The Wirraway traces its roots to an early development of the Harvard - the NA-16. The Wirraway along with the PT-22 Ryan arrived from nearby Smiths Falls where they are owned by Bobby Hanson. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 9

The Wirraway is a considerably different aircraft from its North American Harvard cousin. Among the many features that differ from the Harvard are its geared radial engine, three bladed propeller and racy exhaust pipes. Many original Wirraways had two fixed forward firing machine guns and a rear gunner, bomb racks, and dive brakes. Wirraways were converted to training configuration after the war and employed by both the RAAF and the Royal Australian Navy. The Hanson Wirraway was painted in RAN markings. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 10

Another of Bobby Hanson’s flying oddities (at least in these parts) was the 1930s classic known as the Ryan PT-22 Recruit. This little beauty, flown in by Andrew Boyd, took the prize in the flying time machine category. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 11

It certainly was a day for rare and beautiful visitors from afar. Here Keith Houston taxies in after landing the Fairey Firefly of Canadian Warplane Heritage in Hamilton, Ontario. This massive single engine naval fighter-bomber was a development of the Fairey Fulmar, the naval variant of the reliable, if less than stellar, Fairey Battle. The Firefly came into its own at the end of the Second World War and was used extensively by the Royal Canadian Navy until the 1950s. Due to a maintenance problem, she graced the Vintage Wings hangar for the following week, offering our crew a lingering look at this remarkable aircraft. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 12

Time to go flying! Tim Leslie signals wingman Rob Erdos prior to turning over their powerful Merlin engines. The Mustang IV and Spitfire XVI went aloft for some practice in formation flying and in particular position changes during flight. Our Open House events are just that - open doors for friends and visitors to watch as we go about our normal routines of practice and familiarization. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 13

Ready when you are Lead! Rob Erdos returns the signal and soon they are taxiing. Hand signals are an important part of communication between pilots when flying close formation. Radios are sometimes unreliable and since you are staring straight at the formation Lead the whole time, hand signaling is the preferred method of clear communication. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 14

It’s “wheels in the wells” as Tim Leslie climbs into the hot and humid air of June 7th. The radiator exit door below the roundel is wide open to maximize cooling air flow over the radiators.. Photo: Tony Tapp

Just Plane Fun 15

Tim and Rob return after 30 minutes of practice over less built-up areas to the north and treat the crowd to a thundering flypast. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 16

It’s hard work in the trenches. Here volunteers Susan Kirkpatrick and Laura Rance dish up burgers and dogs to volunteers, visiting pilots and members of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society who were in town for their Annual National Conference. They were a good group of eager and knowledgeable fans. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 17

It would be a day of many firsts for our FG-1D Corsair. The first public viewing of her in her new Royal Navy markings. The first time she was flown by a Vintage Wings pilot. The first Corsair flight for pilot Paul Kissmann. The first flight in a dash-one Corsair by Corsair pilot Mike Potter. Here Mike (left) and Paul pull through the massive thirteen foot diameter propeller to circulate some oil prior to turning the big Pratt and Whitney R2800 over. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 18

Paul Kissmann seems to be stroking the Corsair as a rodeo cowboy might stroke and whisper to his quarterhorse. There’s always some of that, but he is also going through a series of pre-flight visual checks as part of his walkaround - the mark of a serious professional test pilot. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 19

At Vintage Wings of Canada, we were profoundly humbled when the markings of Robert Hampton Gray’s famous Corsair were added to the fuselage and wings of the former United States Navy paint scheme she wore for the first half year. After they were applied the Corsair took on a persona that we all could feel. To see her rolling out to the runway under her own power in the light of day was very emotional for our team. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 20

As Paul Kissmann lifts off the runway in the Corsair, managers at Vintage Wings walk out to the infield for a better view. Left to right: Mike Potter, President and Founder, Dave O’Malley, Manager of Marketing and Communications, Rob Erdos, Manager of British Types, and Tim Leslie, Vice President and Chief of Operations. This excitement and pride was felt right through the ranks. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 21

After nearly 40 minutes of test, evaluation and familiarization north of the airfield, Paul Kissmann takes the Corsair down the runway for all our visitors to see. With the bold numerals and roundels, we all could clearly see the phantom of Robert Hampton Gray flying once more. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 22

This photo is from much the same angle and distance as the view that Japanese gunners aboard Amakusa would have had as Gray passed over them after dropping the bomb that sank their ship. In 1945, Gray’s Corsair was seen to be smoking at this point and just seconds later he crashed into the waters of Onagawa Bay. His last moments on earth earned him the Victoria Cross. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 23

In another view of the same pass, the now-famous markings of the Victoria Cross Corsair bring a truly tragic tale to life for all Canadians - it was a powerful moment for us all. Photo: Tony Tapp

Just Plane Fun 24

Members of Vintage Wings of Canada’s Victory Flight formation demonstration team pose for a group photograph as a means of distracting Paul Kissmann while mechanic Paul Tremblay sneaks under the Corsair with a rather large bucket of icy water - the standard ritual at Vintage Wings of Canada for pilots making their first solo on type. Kissmann is well aware this will happen, but does a great job of feigning ignorance of the inevitable. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 25

Like the good buddies they are, Mike, Rob and Tim bail on the newest member of Victory Flight as he gets his well earned dousing by Paul Tremblay in front of a large crowd of spectators - a rare treat indeed. In addition to the Full Monty executed by Tremblay, fellow mechanic Andre Laviolette fired a volley from the front - unfortunately the handle broke off and the water missed its mark. Photo Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 26

As it turned out, the flood of cold water did not dampen his spirits at all - simply cooled him down after a long hot flight on a long hot day. Immediately afterward he took the microphone and related his feelings about the flight and the story of Robert Hampton Gray. It was a touching and emotional moment for all who were there. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 27

The de Havilland triplets. Tiger Moth pilots Kate Speer (right) and Rob Kostecka (left) chat about their upcoming flights in the Vintage Wings biplane. Their mentor and Manager of Biplanes, Dave Hadfield stands on the wing and shares his considerable common sense knowledge - at the end of the day both pilots soloed in the Tiger Moth. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 28

Open house co-ordinators Michel Coté (left) and John Longair (right) welcome Fairey Firefly pilot Keith Houston. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 29

The Beech Expeditor belonging to Canadian Warplane Heritage climbs out after a great day at Vintage Wings of Canada’s Open House. After the visit from CWH’s Firefly and Expeditor, we returned the favour with an exchange visit to Hamilton in our Spitfire and Hurricane the following week. Photo: Pierre Lapprand

Just Plane Fun 30

Contact! With Kate Speer at the controls, Dave Hadfield heaves mightily on the Tiger Moth’s wooden propeller. The hand start is standard on the simple, yet elegant machine. Photo: Bob Fassold

Just Plane Fun 31

Pilot Officer Marty McFly (Tim Leslie) inspects the Ryan Flying Time Machine prior to some time travelling in the afternoon. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 32

While real pilots fly real aircraft outside the hangar, virtual pilots fly virtual aircraft inside the hangar - a modern interpretation of “hangar flying”. Flight Ontario, a highly skilled and very creative group of simulator experts have created digital copies of all Vintage Wings of Canada aircraft as well as the Gatineau Airport and surrounding area. This enabled anyone to take aloft one of our warbirds and fly a few circuits - a wonderful and exciting teaching tool as well as just plane fun. Here a young visitor cranks a 90 degree turn over the field in the Vintage Wings Mustang IV. Move over Tim Leslie! Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 33

Bert Joss, former RCAF Swordfish pilot engages the crowd with stories of flying the Swordfish during the Second World War in Nova Scotia. Having veterans like Joss share their stories with our guests is the perfect way to bring to life these remarkable flying artifacts. Joss sustained leg injuries from a forced landing in a Swordfish in 1945 that today requires him to use a cane for walking and a chair for sustained presentations. At Vintage Wings of Canada we are honoured by men like Joss who still bear the scars of those years but who take the time to help us teach our fellow Canadians about this complex and tumultuous time in our history. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 34

Is no one immune from the antics of our maintenance crew? Apparently not. Mike Potter, already an experienced Corsair pilot, nevertheless was soloing this particular model of Corsair for the first time - any excuse for a public dousing! Mechanic André Laviolette lets loose with a bucket of honour at the boss. Laviolette earlier in the day botched a Level 2 Dousing with Paul Kissmann and earlier this year lost control on another Level 2 for a Harvard solo. Why someone entrusted him with a Full Level One is beyond understanding. Once again he lost control of the Solo Honour Liquid Containment System (SHLCS) causing it to go into a flat spin, spewing di-hydrogen oxide and striking the recipient. At Vintage Wings of Canada we have a no-tolerance 3-strike system. Pending results of an investigation, Laviolette will now undergo counselling and have to take the Bucket Control and Dispensing Course (BCDC) refresher at Portage Laprairie. Photo: Peter Handley

Just Plane Fun 35

All in all Rose, that was a great day. Mike Potter and Paul Kissmann share their happy experiences of the day Photo: Peter Handley

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