Comox Air Force Museum


  • Christmas Closure
    Date: December 6, 2015 Category: News & Events
    Holiday time at the Comox Air Force Museum means our annual closure. This year we will be closed from December 20 to January 2, 2016. Until then our regular hours apply.  
  • Heritage Stone Dedication Ceremony
    Date: September 9, 2015 Category: Member Info, News & Events
    The Comox Valley Air Force Museum Association  Cordially invites you to the Heritage Stone Dedication Ceremony When:                          Sunday, 20 September 2015 Time:                           2 P.M.   Please be seated by 1:45 Where:                        Protestant Chapel across the road from Heritage Air Park Suggested Dress:      Business Casual Guest of Honour:        Colonel Tom Dunne, Commander 19 Wing Comox, or his delegate The 2015 ceremony will follow the Battle of Britain Parade. The Master of Ceremonies will read out the name on each stone. Reception to follow in the Comox Air Force Museum. RSVP:                         by 14 September 2015 Museum:               (250) 339-8162 E-mail:                Canada Post:                CVAFMA Building 11, 19 Wing Comox PO Box 1000, Station Main Lazo, BC, V0R 2K0 Please let us know how many people will be with you. Participants are requested to bring an umbrella in case of inclement weather. If you are unable to attend, we will be pleased to send you a photograph of your Heritage Stone.
    Date: June 25, 2017 Category: Aircraft, Books, Collections, Library Display, Links, News & Events, Posts
    One of the most common questions asked of us is, "What happened with the Spitfire?"  We're now happy to report that Vintage Wings sent an update: "Last week, Spitfire TE294, the Roseland Spitfire, made its first flight after nearly two decades of steady progress. Click on this link to enjoy the official photos and video of the event." If you have a thirst for all things Spitfire, check out these books and others that can be found in our Museum's Library:   Jeremy Flack wrote Spitfire.  The inside cover reads, "The Supermarine Spitfire is the most famous of all British fighters.  Designed by Reginald J. Mitchell at a time when all serving RAF fighter aircraft were canvas-covered biplanes, the prototype first flew on 5 March 1936.  Over 20,000 Spitfires were to be produced in over 40 variants and it was used as a fighter, in the ground-attack and photo-reconnaissance roles and even - as the Seafire - from aircraft carriers. By the early 1960s, just a handful of Spitfires remained in flying condition and it was the making of the film The Battle of Britain which was to turn the tide on the extinction of airworthy Spitfires.  Today nearly 50 can be seen flying including those of the RAF's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight...     Birth of a Legend - The Spitfire was written by Jeffrey Quill.  Quill's book celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Spitfire's first flight with this volume.  "The achievements of the fighter pilots ensured that the Spitfire became Read more...
    Date: June 20, 2017 Category: Collections, Links, News & Events, Posts
    Last month, we introduced a new series: the Wickenby Register Newsletter.  The newsletters were printed twice yearly; they include information about 12 Squadron RAF, memories of service men and women, the occasional recipe, stories of times past… But perhaps the thing that spoke to both Mel and me was the inclusion of a poem on the back of each issue. Noel Coward's poem, written in 1943 ~ [caption id="attachment_8767" align="aligncenter" width="568"] AND LISTEN[/caption]     I'd also like to share a recipe for "Kidneys Garibaldi".  It was introduced with the words, "This article will, hopefully, stimulate those among our number who lay claim to some degree of expertise in the grub-stakes department..."  Let us know what you think of the footnote! [caption id="attachment_8765" align="alignleft" width="676"] KIDNEYS GARIBALDI[/caption]                
    Date: June 17, 2017 Category: Community Outreach, Member Info, News & Events, Posts
    Our Museum's Deputy Director, W/O Mike Barnucz, has retired.  Mike has been with us for some time now, and on Thursday, worked his last day for us.  I asked him if he'd like to share a farewell message with us: "Well world, it’s been quite a ride. Throughout my military career, both with Regs and Reserve, I’ve had many enjoyable jobs. I can say with all certainty that one of the most enjoyable was this one as Deputy Director for CAFM. I’ve often told people it was the perfect semi-retirement job. To all of those who work and volunteer for the museum I’d like to pass on my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for making it so. During my tenure as Deputy Director, I was a part of a team that took great pride in Canada’s west coast military aviation history. That pride is proven by the amount of compliments we get from our 10,000 or so visitors a year. Whether it was giving tours, helping to create or adjust displays, or running around in circles dealing with the ever gorging bureaucracy monster, I'm glad that I had a small part in making our museum one of the finest military museums in Canada. Everyone has been asking me whether or not I’ll stay with the museum as a volunteer. My answer is, eventually. I have an old Mustang in the garage that needs preserving first. After that, most definitely yes. As long as it does not interfere with my lovely wife’s Read more...
    Did you know that our Museum Library has over 8500 books?  Our collection is used by our visitors, by folks coming into the Museum to do research, by volunteers, and by those of you looking for titles related to topics of interest.  If you're not able to come into the Museum personally, perhaps your community library would have these titles, or perhaps you might like to purchase them from your favourite bookstore in order to have them in your home library. The titles I'm sharing with you this time are focussed on the Lancaster:   Written by Leo McKinstry, who also wrote Spitfire: Portrait of a Legend, Lancaster: The Second World War's Greatest Bomber has a close look at the place of the Lancaster in air history.  "The Lancaster and the Spitfire were the RAF's two weapons of victory in the Second World War.  But without the bomber, Britain would never have been able to take the fight to the German homeland.  Lancaster highlights the scale of the plane's achievements, including the famous Dambusters attacks, and how it transformed the effectiveness of Bomber Command. With the first-hand accounts from surviving pilots, engineers and ground crews, this is a compelling saga which cements the plane's special place in our history."   FM159, The Lucky Lancaster was authored by Dave Birrell.  This is "one of 7377 Avro Lancasters built to wage war against the one of only four taxiable Lancasters in the world.  It has flown widely over the Pacific, the Atlantic, and Read more...
    Date: June 12, 2017 Category: Member Info, News & Events
    A thank you to all the volunteers who supported our annual garage sale ~ whether you contributed items for sale, helped set up, helped to sell on the day of the event, counted money earned, or dismantled at the end of the day, it all makes a difference.  The Jedi-licious hot dogs were, as usual, out of this world! Special thanks must go to Bill Cuell, who took the lead on this annual event once again.  For the past ten years, Bill has organized us and made sure everyone was well fed.  And as usual, he took time to express his thanks to his fellow volunteers.  Thank you, Bill!
    Date: June 11, 2017 Category: Aircraft, Books, Links, News & Events, Posts
    [caption id="attachment_8752" align="alignleft" width="137"] GUY GIBSON[/caption] Wing Commander Guy Penrose Gibson, VC, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, was the first commanding officer of the Royal Air Force's No. 617 Squadron; he led the Dam Busters' raid (Operation Chastise) in 1943.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross, and in June 1943, became the most highly decorated serviceman in the country.  By the age of 26, he had completed over 170 operations. From an early age, Gibson wanted to fly; he kept a picture of his boyhood hero, Albert Ball, VC, the First World War flying ace, on his bedroom wall.  His ambition was to become a civilian test pilot so he wrote to Vickers asking for advice.  He received a reply from their chief test pilot, who told Gibson he should first learn to fly by joining the RAF on a short service commission.  Gibson applied to the RAF but was rejected after he failed the Medical Board (the probable reason is that his legs were too short).  However, he applied again and this time it was successful; his personal file included the remark 'satisfactory leg length test carried out'.  And so he began a short service commission in November of 1936. Gibson began his flying training at the Bristol Flying School with No. 6 Flying Training Course.  After some leave, he moved to No. 24 (Training) Group at RAF Uxbridge for his RAF basic training.  He was commissioned with the rank of acting pilot officer effective January 31, 1937. Read more...
    Date: June 8, 2017 Category: Member Info, News & Events, Posts
    We belong to the Organization of Military Museums of Canada which recently held it's Annual Conference in Oshawa. In 2016 it instituted an award to one volunteer from one of it's affiliates. This years recipient was Bill Cuell, our recently retired Association President. The award was presented at the OMMC's Annual Dinner by Commodore Sean N. Cantelon, Chief Executive Officer, Staff of the Non-Public Funds, Canadian Forces.   The citation on Bill's award reads: "Mr. Bill Cuell has served the Comox Air Force Museum as a volunteer for over 13 years. His dependability, consistency and skill have been truly exemplary. His Membership of the Association for ten years, the past four years as President, has showcased his calm leadership, team-building expertise, creativity and love of our history." Congratulations, Bill!  The volunteers and the Board of Directors feel this recognition is well deserved! In addition, an award was also presented to Lt. Col (Ret'd) David Stinson for his work as Secretary to the OMMC. David was previously Secretary on our Association Board. To have two members of this museum recognized speaks highly of the calibre of volunteers who work here.
    Date: June 6, 2017 Category: News & Events
    Our Museum will be hosting its annual Garage Sale on Saturday, June 10th from 9:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m.  Our parking lot will be closed for this event; please park across the street in the Canex parking area.
    Date: June 5, 2017 Category: Collections, News & Events, Posts
    Many of Al Wilson's cartoons relate to specific happenings from about 1958 - 1974, especially in the Comox area.  We know you're enjoying this series, and are happy to share this June Edition with you!             [caption id="attachment_8758" align="aligncenter" width="1179"] "I MAY NOT BE A TIGER, BUT..."[/caption]     [caption id="attachment_8759" align="aligncenter" width="1018"] "HURRY BEFORE THE FOG CLOSES IN!"[/caption]
    Date: June 4, 2017 Category: Community Outreach, Links, Member Info, News & Events, Posts
    The Comox Air Force Museum Association is proud to announce that our Volunteer Coordinator and Programme Manager, Jon Ambler, recently received an award from the British Columbia Historical Federation.  Jon was selected for his exemplary work as Program manager and Volunteer Coordinator for the Comox Air Force Museum and his involvement in researching and promoting BC’s aviation history.   Under the leadership of our former Board of Directors' president, Bill Cuell, the board placed Jon's name in nomination for a Service Award.  In addition to his work as programme Manager and Volunteer Coordinator, Jon is involved in all things related to aviation history here in the Comox Valley and BC as a whole.  Our nomination letter included a number of of his contributions.  "In addition to performing his normal duties, Jon worked tirelessly over the past years to ensure that the Museum is front and center at many local cultural and historical events including the Cumberland Heritage Faire, the "Snowbirds" annual autograph signing session, the School District 71 Heritage Fair, numerous Meet and Greet events for the school district History and Social Studies teachers, the Battle of Britain ceremony and the associated heritage stone dedication ceremony, Empire Days activities in Cumberland, Comox Maritime Days in Comox, and the annual Canada Day parade in Courtenay.  Had it not been for his vision, diligence, commitment and extensive work with numerous staff, volunteers and the various local government representatives, the successful display of West Coast aviation history at these events would not be a reality. He expends Read more...
    Date: May 28, 2017 Category: Aircraft, Books, Collections, Library Display, News & Events, Posts
    Bush flying refers to aircraft operations carried out in the bush. Bush flying involves operations in rough terrain where there are often no prepared landing strips or runways, frequently necessitating that bush planes be equipped with abnormally large tires, floats or skis. Our Museum Library has a number of books related to bush pilots.  If you live locally, come in and have a look at the table display; if you have an interest in the topic, but don't live near our Museum, you might want to see if these titles are available in your community library:   Pilots of the Purple Twilight is written by Philip Godsell.  The author begins his story "with the Junker that crash landed at Fort Simpson in 1921 and follows the lives of Canada's first bush flyers, taking readers on a ride through the first three decades of bush flying..."  Included are stories of "lost planes and lost men, mercy flights, hermits and fur traders, prospectors and mounties, as well as the myth of the tropical medicine valley of the Nahannis."         Peter Boer wrote Bush Pilots ~ Canada's Wilderness Daredevils.  He recounts stories of adventurers who put their lives in danger to "bring supplies and civilization to isolated Canadian communities.  Some of these include: Wop May, a WWI ace who traded fire with the infamous Red Baron delivers emergency serum to an isolated village. Jack Caldwell was unable to pull out of a spin on a test flight and jumped out of his Read more...
    Date: May 26, 2017 Category: Aircraft, Links, News & Events, Posts
    [caption id="attachment_8730" align="alignleft" width="184"] SIR BARNES WALLIS, ROYAL NAVY[/caption]   Sir Barnes Neville Wallis CBE, FRS, RDI, FRAeS was an English scientist, engineer, and inventor.  Perhaps he was best known for inventing the bouncing bomb that was used by the Royal Air Force in Operation Chastise.  However, among other achievements, Wallis was known for his invention of the geodetic airframe and the earthquake bomb. Educated in London, Wallis left school at the age of 17 to start work at Thames Engineering Works; he then changed his apprenticeship to J. Samuel White's, shipbuilders based on the Isle of Wight.  He first trained as a marine engineer and took a degree in engineering through the University of London External Programme (1922).  When an opportunity came for him to work on airship design and then aircraft design, he left J. Samuel White's.  He worked for Vickers, later part of Vickers-Armstrongs, and then part of the British Aircraft Corporation.   [caption id="attachment_8731" align="alignleft" width="220"] R100 AIRSHIP[/caption] Among his many achievements was the first use of geodetic design in engineering and the gasbag wiring of Vickers' R100; at this time (1930), it was the largest airship ever designed.  Along with John Edwin Temple, he pioneered the use of light alloy and production engineering in the structural design of the R100.   At the Vickers aircraft factory at the Brooklands motor circuit and aerodrome in Surrey, he worked on pre-war aircraft designs with Rex Pierson; the Wellesley, the Wellington, and the later Warwick and Windsor employed Read more...
    You might recall a previous post in which I shared the unveiling of the K.O. Moore exhibit in our Main Gallery. [caption id="attachment_8698" align="alignleft" width="300"] K.O. MOORE[/caption]   Wing Commander K.O. Moore DSO was certainly a hero of World War Two, earning an immediate Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and the US Silver Star by destroying two U-Boats in a 22 minute span.  The combat took place at night as he and his No 224 Squadron RAF crew, in a Very Long Range Liberator, were tasked with keeping NAZI U-Boats away from the D Day invasion fleet.  The U-Boats put up a hail of machine gun and cannon fire that he had to fly right through to complete his attack; he did so without flinching or failing.  His crew sent the enemy contact message: ‘ saw two subs, sunk same’!  He survived the war and went on to become an important RCAF leader in the post-War period. Recently, Dave O'Malley wrote the amazing story for Vintage Wings of Canada.  I thought you might like to read it on the Vintage Wings of Canada website.  Special thanks to Dave for his permission to share!  We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did here at the Museum!
    Date: May 21, 2017 Category: Collections, News & Events, Posts
    Mel, Chair of our Collections Management Committee, recently shared a set of newsletters that had been donated to our Museum. The newsletters were printed twice yearly; they include information about 12 Squadron RAF, memories of service men and women, the occasional recipe, stories of times past... But perhaps the thing that spoke to both of us was the inclusion of a poem on the back of each issue; we're looking forward to sharing them with you!   In this first post, I'll introduce 12 Squadron as described in one of the newsletters, along with one of the poems. "Formed at Netheravon, Wiltshire on February 4th 1915 the squadron was first equipped with B.E.2c aircraft and went to France in September of that year to perform various roles.  The B.E.s were replaced with R.E.8s in August 1917. After the Armistice the squadron formed part of the Army of Occupation in Germany until July 1922 when it was disbanded at Bickendorf.  In April 1923 it was reformed at Northolt as a bomber squadron equipped with DH.9As.  In 1924 the aircraft were Fairey Fawns and in 1926, Fairey Fox high speed bombers.  On many exercises No. 12's Foxes outran the defending fighters and this led to the adoption of the motto 'Leads the field'.  The highly polished  metal nose cowlings of the aircraft also gave the squadron its nickname 'Shiny Twelve'.  The Fox's mask badge was given Royal Assent in February 1937 by King George VI.  In 1931 No. 12 became one of the Read more...
    Date: May 18, 2017 Category: Aircraft, Books, Library Display, News & Events, Posts
    As mentioned in my previous post, Canadians played a major role in the Dams Raid.  "Of the 133 airmen involved in the raid, 30 were Canadian.  Fourteen were killed during the raid; one became a prisoner of war.  Exactly 50% of the Canadians who took off didn't return. Four who survived were later killed in action during the war." (Bomber Command Museum).  I'm sharing just two of the many stories in this post. [caption id="attachment_8621" align="aligncenter" width="665"] RCAF AIRCREW WHO RETURNED FROM THE DAMS RAID (Bomber Command Museum)[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_8630" align="alignleft" width="250"] F/L MCCARTHY (PL-16889 09/06/43)[/caption]   One of the most well known of the Canadian group was not Canadian by birth.  This was Joe McCarthy.  Born in New York, he tried unsuccessfully tried to join the Army Air Corps. In May 1941, Joe's friend Don Curtin, suggested they head to Canada to join the Royal Canadian Air Force.  They were sent to the Manning Depot in Toronto.  Joe trained in Goderich and Brantford, then received his commission in December 1941. After Christmas, he sailed from Halifax; eleven days later, he and his fellow aircrew arrived in Liverpool.  Further training took place with the No. 12 Advanced Flying Unit and the No. 14 Operational Training Unit.  In September of 1942, he was assigned to No. 97 Squadron RAF; it was here that he met W/C Gibson.  Just as McCarthy was completing his tour, he received a call from Gibson telling him that a new squadron was being formed and Read more...
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