When the Supermarine Spitfire Mk I was first introduced into service in the summer of 1938, pilots were delighted with its performance, looks and firepower. It was the best of the best and R.J. Mitchell's beauty gave England and the RAF the perfect weapon at the very time they needed it most.
But then came the Spitfire Mk II, the Mk V, Mk IX, Mk XVI and many more - as many as 24 Marks in all and many sub-variants - all with improvements in power, speed, altitude, firepower and range. So perhaps the Mk I was not the be-all and end-all pilots first thought. Was it possible that something so great could, in fact, be greater?
Yes indeedy! So when I tell you that next week we will be launching an all New Vintage Wings Website, keep this in mind. Consider it Vintage Wings 2.0 or if you follow my Spitfire metaphor, Vintage Wings Mk II. Many of you over the past fours years have told me that the Vintage Wings website is one of the best in the business (I particularly love those folks who insist that it IS the best in the business), so why in God's name, make any change at all? The reasons are many.
Firstly, and most importantly, the present site is in English only. We live in Québec, half of our volunteer base is French Canadian, some of our pilots and mechanics are French Canadian, we live in a bilingual country, and more than half of our visitors to the hangar and to our air shows are French
Canadians. Finally, and most compellingly, we honour heroic Canadians who have populated our rich aviation heritage - it's our mandate. Many of them are French speakers - Omer Levesque, Louis Geffrion, Fern Villeneuve and Arthur Fecteau to name a few. We honour them in both official languages.
Our new website will employ many modern social media formats such as Twitter and Facebook to reach an ever widening audience of young people. For anyone over 55 this may a head scratcher, but for Flight Lieutenant Justin Beiber it's the cat's patoutie. In addition there will be up-to-date news feeds from the blogisphere (recently discovered Dr. Arianna Huffingtion somewhere between the stratosphere and the troposphere) and from mainstream media. Vintage Wings Mk II will be brighter, more photographic, more visual, more dynamic and searchable. Vintage Wings Mk II will continue to carry all the old weekly news stories (220+) from the past 4 years and from this point on will offer new stories in French and English (though they might not be simultaneous).
There will be many new dynamic links that will take you to the specialty program sites of Vintage Wings such as Wings over Gatineau, Hawk One, Yellow Wings and Gray Ghosts. The site that you will come to in the next short while will be much, much more visual and exciting. It will eventually have more content, videos, links and key word searchability.
We ask only one thing - Patience!
Not everything will be up immediately - we just need to launch as fast as we can to embrace and welcome our French members and readers whom we owe so much to. Our first site and the one you are now on, took four years to fully develop. Our new site will eventually have all the bells and whistles and more in due course. No doubt, we will have bugs, glitches, hiccups and WTFs galore... be patient with the stuff you don't see, report any problems with the stuff you do. We are resolving some load speed issues as we go. By summer's end we will have all the pilot and staff bios so you can see and read about the professionalism of this amazing cadre. We will have sponsor pages and links. We will have the Gear-up! merchandise shop on-line within the site. We will have all the active links in both languages, but for now, if it is not in both, we will leave it "under construction" until each feature is ready.
Starting next week, each new story will take you to our new core site. If you wish to God we'd never changed, wait until the summer when you see all we can do. Be patient, be supportive, and by year's end.. we will have the best dang website in the vintage warbird biz... just like we used to.
The first thing you will note is an all new splash page - one which we hope to change up yearly to reflect the major program and theme for that particular year. Here you will be able to select English or French before you enter the site... but don't worry, you can switch languages automatically from any page within the site.
Our new home! At the top you will see rotating banner graphics touting our major programs like Hawk One, Yellow Wings, the Gear Up swag shop and Warbird University to name a few... from any banner you can click on through to the appropriate spot on our peripheral sites such as hawkone.ca, yellowwings.ca or our membership pages. In due time, all these presently external sites will be brought under the one vintagewings.ca umbrella. Below the main header banner, you will find instant links to volunteer, to donate, to become a member and to sign up for Vintage News (but you won't need too because you already are). At the bottom right you will find newsfeeds from our Vintage Wings, Yellow Wings, Hawk One and Gray Ghosts blogs... clicking on these you will be taken directly to the blog where you can read and sign up for more. Here will also reside a Twitter and Facebook link for all our members born after 1980 or who are bored at work. At the bottom you will find three recent news stories from Vintage News. Clicking on these links will take you to the recent story which no longer pops-up in a separate window but will reside within the website proper.
Of course... should you want to switch to French, it's a click of a button. The 220 stories that reside on our present site (which now will be on the new site) will not be translated, but going forward, each story will be available in both languages.
By clicking on Vintage News in the top nav menu, or clicking on "Visit the Archive Today" will take you to a more visual ordering of stories in eight categories. Clicking on any one of these categories will bring up a list of all stories that fit that bill.
Of course... you can do that in French too.!
Now, instead of a rather boring listing of titles in text only, we will employ the graphic "news flashes" we have sent out over the past four years... far more revealing and appealing! By clicking on any one of these graphics will take you to the story.
Just makes it a whole lot nicer to look at.
You can select an aircraft via the drop down menu or select visually from a photo gallery - your choice.
If you select aircraft from the top nav, you can chose from a drop down of Combat Aircraft, Trainers, Civilian and Restorations. Selecting say, North American Harvard, you come to truly visual page with the same great information, but more up to date and more visual. Rotating photographs will give you a better than ever view of the airplanes we fly and the people that fly and maintain them. Calls to action will always appear on the right side.
Of course, you see all that in French too!
Eventually, each aircraft photo gallery will begin with a dedication, such as the Roseland Spitfire, Hawk One, Gray Ghost, the Cliff Stewart Lysander, the Terry Goddard Swordfish or the Stocky Edwards Kittyhawk and where possible, sponsor tributes.
The new photo galleries will show you visual dimensions to our aircraft like never before.
Where ever possible we will connect you with the people who made the history behind the aircraft such as Bill Morton who flew the Tiger Moth while training with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
We might even show you a few of our pilots flying the airplanes they love - like Blake Reid and the Tiger Moth
Colour - lots and lots of colour baby.