It’s living history, and you can be a part of it today!
Experience a flight in a classic Second World War fighter, in formation with other historic combat aircraft, including the Avro Lancaster.
Each time we take our warbirds into the air, it’s a rare and powerful experience which we know we are very fortunate to enjoy. It is almost impossible to convey to others the emotionally beautiful and physically visceral sight of three aircraft flying in close proximity. Every sense is bombarded with inputs—the thundering roar of a Merlin or Allison V-12 engine, the heated whiff of historic aviation, the growling, harmonic vibration of a combat aircraft in full flight and above all, the sight—the almost unimaginable sight—of powerful, purposeful aircraft legends rising and falling in sync with your own fighter.
Now, in cooperation with the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (CWHM), Vintage Wings of Canada (VWC) is offering an unprecedented opportunity to its members. If you become a member of Vintage Wings or CWHM, you can truly and fully experience a formation of thundering warbirds—as a vital part of the formation itself!
Vintage Wings is now offering up the back seats of our North American P-51D Mustang and Curtiss P-40N Kittyhawk for member-sponsored flight experiences. In a series of five multi-day events (three in Ottawa/Gatineau and two in Hamilton, Ontario) members will be able to strap on history and fly in formation with or inside one of the rarest yet most important aircraft in aviation history—the beloved “Lanc” of Bomber Command fame. We can state, with 100% certainty, that this opportunity cannot be experienced anywhere else on the planet.
Put yourself in an airman’s seat to feel every sensory detail of the life-changing experiences our flying fathers, grandfathers and heroes had during the Second World War. There is no more compelling way to experience living history than to be part of it. A seat on one of our fighters, or on the Lancaster itself, is available only to members of Vintage Wings of Canada or CWHM who sponsor one of these historic formation flights.
What you will see, hear and feel in a Warbird Formation Flight will remain with you forever. Photo: Peter Handley
Participants in these historic formation flights must become sponsoring members of VWC or CWHM and can ride in the second seat of the Kittyhawk, Mustang or aboard the Lancaster. Members will experience everything—pre-flight briefing, start-up, in trail takeoff, rejoin, formation flying and position changes. Members are encouraged to bring their cameras. In fact, this is a unique opportunity for amateur photographers to break into that elusive air-to-air photography elite—the holy grail of aviation photography. These formation flying experiences happen in two locations—Hamilton, Ontario and Gatineau, Québec (15 minutes from downtown Ottawa).
On each of the scheduled flying days, three separate 3-plane formation flights will be launched—one at 1000 hrs, 1200 hrs and 1400 hrs on each day, allowing for briefings, debriefings and engine cool down between flights. A total of six seats are available for sponsorship on each flight—four in the Lancaster and one each in the escorting fighter aircraft. A membership upgrade of $3,000 helps our charitable foundation cover some of the costs of maintenance and consumables like fuel and oil. P-51 and P-40 fighter flights may be extended, at the sponsor’s option, for an additional fee. The P-40 is the only dual-control Second World War fighter in Canada and flying it from the back seat is an experience few living people can claim.
For more information on how to become a member, sponsor a flight or register for a formation flying experience, you are invited to call Mindy Shea, Vintage Wings of Canada at 819 669-9603 (email is firstname.lastname@example.org) or Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum at 905 679-4183 (extension 236).
All sponsors wishing to take advantage of the back seat of one of the fighters must be physically able to climb into the back seat and egress from it in case of emergency. In the event of rain or other issues, flights will be rescheduled the same week if possible.
Those wishing to watch the comings and goings of the formation flights from the ground can do so from the Vintage Wings Hangar, where they can also visit the Michael U. Potter Collection of Vintage Aircraft. Admission to the hangar is just $10.00 (kids under 12 are admitted free). A similar arrangement is available at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Please visit their website for details.
Your warbird formation flying experience begins with your participation in a full pre-flight briefing with some of Canada’s top pilots. When you do strap in to your fighter, you will have first-hand knowledge of all aspects (timing, join-up, formation changes, weather, radio frequencies, etc.) of the flight to come. Photo: Annette Koolsbergen
A memorable part of the Fighter–Bomber Formation Flying Experience is the choreographed engine start and run-up as pilots ready their aircraft for takeoff. Photo: Annette Koolsbergen
Both of the American-built fighters in your formation claim Royal Air Force pedigrees. The P-51D Mustang was a design created in answer to a British design requirement, and saw service with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War. The Mustang is widely considered to be the most important and influential fighter of all time. The Curtiss P-40N Kittyhawk was part of the RAF’s fighter punch in North Africa as well as distant theatres of war—from the Aleutians to Papua New Guinea. In the hands of a gifted pilot and shooter like Canadian ace James Francis “Stocky” Edwards, the P-40 was a formidable weapon and ubiquitous ground attack aircraft. Photo: Pierre Lapprand
From inside the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Canadian-built Avro Lancaster X, you can experience the power, thunder and majesty of four Rolls-Royce Merlin engines in sync... from several angles. You will be flying in one of only two flying Lanc’s in the world today, and the ONLY one which allows sponsoring members to ride along. Stand in the mid-upper turret and imagine the power of a wartime experience as your Lanc returns from a “dodgy op” over Germany. Photos: Peter Handley
The interior of the Lancaster is a restrictive environment, but with many angles from which to view and photograph the escorting fighter aircraft and crew going about their duties. Photos: Peter Handley
The rear seat of the Curtiss P-40N Kittyhawk, dedicated to Wing Commander Stocky Edwards, provides a particularly roomy (Dave O’Malley in this shot is 6’ 4” tall and not what you would call svelte) and panoramic vantage point from which members will feel the stunning visceral, visual and aural experience of flying as our legendary heroes did. Photo: Paul Kissmann
A flight in one of the Legends formation aircraft is a photographer’s dream come true. Vintage Wings of Canada’s P-51D Mustang offers a superb 360 degree panoramic view for the back-seater, the best seat in the house in which to experience a formation flight with an Avro Lancaster. And then there’s the fact that, well... you’re flying in a friggin’ Mustang!! The Lanc itself (lower photo) offers several angles for the aviation photography enthusiast. Our advice to anyone though, is to stop taking photos at one point in the flight, sit back, and take in the immensity of the experience. Top Photo: Annette Koolsbergen, Bottom: Peter Handley
The P-40N Kittyhawk offers a relatively spacious back with room to stretch and best of all... dual control. In fact, the Vintage Wings’ Kittyhawk is the only dual control Second World War fighter in Canada. If a sponsor wishes to experience what it is like to fly, arrangements can be made to continue flying after the Lancaster has broken away to land. Grab the control column of history and experience a powerful feeling of memory and audacity in your hands as you fly an actual warbird with an actual combat record. Photo: Peter Handley
Whether you are in the Lancaster, P-40N Kittyhawk or the P-51D Mustang, you will be flying with two other of the greatest aircraft of the Second World War. Far below you, thousands will look skyward at your passing, wondering what it would be like. Only you will know. Photo: Darren Brown, Ottawa Citizen
The formation flight experience is like a time machine set to the year 1944. Photo: Darren Brown, Ottawa Citizen
During the flight, the fighters will exchange positions, allowing different angles for photography. Photo: Darren Brown, Ottawa Citizen
While your sponsored flight will thrill thousands of citizens on the ground as you fly over the city, your sponsorship allows you a place in one of the aircraft, a place in history. Photo: Pierre Lapprand
Avid aviation photographers will come away with astonishing shots, the envy of all your friends. Photo: Peter Handley
Do you “Feel the Need for Speed”? Sponsors can extend their flights beyond the formation component to see and feel the full capability of the Mustang and Kittyhawk. Back seat sponsors can even take control of the Kittyhawk and, under the supervision of the pilot, carve some turns and make memories that put a swagger in your step and last a lifetime. Dr. Stewart Graham (above) came all the way from Tasmania, Australia to experience a flight in the P-40, and he wasn’t disappointed: “On reflection we had experienced a day beyond our imagination and as we had been told, it was an experience we would treasure for a lifetime. The collection is magnificent, the staff are wonderful, the experience, priceless!” Photo: Dave Hadfield
Some memories are priceless. Photo: Peter Handley
The simplest detail of your flight multiplies the power of the experience. Not your standard airline emergency information card, but just as important—these would be the same points of egress used by a Lancaster crew going down over Germany during the war. Photo: Peter Handley