A Winnipeg Welcome
Canada is a vast nation. There is no greater way to experience this, and fully stimulate all of your senses, than to travel across this great nation in an open cockpit biplane.
We have been very fortunate to be tasked with the mission of safely transiting a precious war-veteran, our Boeing Stearman PT-27 from Gatineau QC all the way west to Calgary AB.
The journey along the way is one that is beyond what words can aptly describe. The experience fills all of your senses, your emotions, and your heart. The dull roar of the 220-hp Continental R670 engine resonates not only your ears but right through to your bones. The wind whips at your face, the smell of the forest changes as the trees transform from a logged forestry section to fragrant old-growth forest. And your eyes feast on the countryside rolling past the yellow wings of the Stearman.
We were greeted and welcomed by our friends at Calm Air & the Shell Aerocentre, who hangared our beautiful aeroplane for the night, and helped give our old girl a little love.
On Wednesday the 16th, we taxied over to 17-Wing and found a warm welcome from our friends at 402 Squadron.
After safely placing our little yellow bird in their expansive hangar (see photo above for scale reference), naturally it was time to seek a cold beer at the Officer’s Mess. We accidentally found ourselves in the old Warrant Officer’s Mess, which has since been converted into the Air Force Museum of Manitoba. It is an incredible facility, and is certainly the BEST kept secret on base. We will be talking more about them in the weeks ahead…
Sometimes, serendipity really hits home. In our good fortune to find this little known side of 17-Wing Winnipeg, we also stumbled across one display that had both of us in awe. We came from Calgary to fly across the country from Gatineau to Winnipeg, and see the Calgary Herald front page from 1941 staring us in the face, reaching out, as if it was intent to be found today. Sometimes the world works in mysterious ways, but here was our hometown hero Willy McKnight right in front of us. Vintage Wings of Canada is rebuilding a Hawker Hurricane MkXII that could potentially be dedicated to Willy McKnight. The spirit of many great Canadians is with us on all of our travels.
Thanks to everyone who has helped to make this journey possible. It has only just begun…