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: March 24, 2019 Category: Community Outreach, Links, Member Info, News & Events, Posts
      Our Museum welcomes many visitors, in person, as well as on our website and our Facebook page. We also have many people who email us at     Our  guests always have questions for us.  Some of the most frequently asked include: * When do the Snowbirds arrive for Spring Training this year? * What happened to the Y2K Spitfire? * How can I get my family member’s military records? * I donated some artefacts to the museum.  Why aren’t they on display? * I have an item I’d like to donate to the Museum.  How do I go about doing this? * I understand a copy of the Colwell Diary is available.  How can I access it? We’ve established an FAQ section on our website with the hopes that you can access this information as you need it. Have a look at this section!
    Date: March 20, 2019 Category: Aircraft, Exhibits, News & Events, Posts
      Development of the Typhoon began in 1938. The Air Ministry saw that war clouds were looming and were already looking for an aircraft to replace its new fighters that had only just appeared, those being the Spitfire and the Hurricane. Sir Sidney Camm, head designer of the Hurricane at the Hawker group, already had a design in mind that was larger and more powerful. His initial thoughts for armament was to equip this new fighter with the proven .303 machine gun. The Air Ministry, though, wanted the much heavier choice, the 20mm cannon. This would necessitate a larger airframe and therefore a much more powerful engine.     There were 3 contenders; Napiers had the Sabre, a 24 cylinder block with 4 rows of 6 cylinders in an H pattern. Think of a Porsche boxer engine, double that and stick one on top of the other! Rolls Royce had the Vulture and Bristol had the Centaurus. The Ministry considered the Centaurus too advanced, the Vulture was underpowered, weighed too much and had mechanical problems. The Centaurus went on to power such aircraft as the Beaufighter. The Vulture was chosen to power the predecessor to the Avro Lancaster, the Avro Manchester. They eventually chose the Sabre, but this too had teething problems. As with all new inventions, rushing production always results in development problems. These troubles followed it into the first squadrons to be equipped with the new fighter. Unfortunately, this gave the new aircraft a bad name with both Read more...
    Date: March 10, 2019 Category: News & Events, Posts
    Daylight Savings Time (DST) is upon us once again.  Approximately 40% of countries worldwide use it to make better use of daylight and to conserve energy. Did you know that a small Canadian town experimented with seasonal clock changes as early as 1908?  Port Arthur and Fort William (now Thunder Bay) were in the Central Time Zone. A local Port Arthur businessman, John Hewitson petitioned the town council to adjust the clocks to Eastern Time in the summer months so the local children and outdoorspeople could enjoy an extra hour of summer sun. The council agreed and the town turned its clocks ahead one hour from June to September. A year later, Fort William followed suit and the two towns “sprung ahead” on May 1, 1910. Seven years later, The Daylight Saving Act of 1917 was enacted by the Dominion of Newfoundland to adopt DST; this made it one of the first jurisdictions in North America to do so.   [caption id="attachment_12798" align="alignleft" width="120"] WILLIAM WILLETT[/caption]   A movement to introduce daylight saving time had been underway in England before WWI; it was encouraged by William Willett from 1907 in his pamphlet “The Waste of Daylight”.     [caption id="attachment_12799" align="aligncenter" width="208"] THE WASTE OF DAYLIGHT[/caption]     [caption id="attachment_12796" align="alignleft" width="198"] WWI ERA[/caption]   However, Germany and Austria were the first countries to use DST in 1916. On April 30, 1916, at the height of World War I, clocks were set forward by 1 hour to start the world's first countrywide DST Read more...
    Date: March 8, 2019 Category: Community Outreach, News & Events, Posts
    Deb, one of our volunteers, served with the RCAF, and fifteen years ago, in 2004, served with the Headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.  Some time ago, as I chatted with her, she recalled a very special time, an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, one that culminated in what she refers to as "the defining moment of my tour".  On International Women’s Day, I am happy to share this with you once again, told in Deb's words.   The Calendar Idea ~     "Three of us female Majors serving in Afghanistan under General Hillier, came up with an idea to mark International Women's Day in Afghanistan.  It was only five days prior to the official event and we decided on producing a calendar featuring female personnel of NATO stationed in Kabul, with all proceeds from the sale of the calendar benefitting Afghan women in distress.  We received immediate approval from Gen. Hillier and pressed forward with our plans.  In Gen. Hillier's words, 'the role of women in Afghanistan, while extremely suppressed by the Taliban, is fundamental to the future prosperity of this country...this calendar project is one small way the military women of NATO HQ can assist Afghan women to move forward and take their rightful place in Afghanistan public and political life.' While it took a bit of convincing to get the other Nations' female military members to participate, once they realized what we were trying to do, they all Read more...
    Date: March 7, 2019 Category: Books, Collections, News & Events, Posts
    To round out your reading list, here are a group of titles worthy for this International Women's Week: Spitfire Women of WWII – Written by Giles Whittell, “This is the incredible sotry of an exclusive wartime sisterhood: a group of courageous, individual, gifted women who, in exceptionally dangerous circumstances, flew Spitfires, Hurricanes, and Lancasters to the frontline of WWII.     Spitfire Girls, a novel by Carol Gould, “…evokes all the drama of this extraordinary period of history and is a tribute to the heroism of these brave women without whom the Battle of Britain might never have been won…”       Written by Elinor Florence, Bird’s Eye View, a novel,  is the story of Rose Jolliffe, “…an idealistic young woman living on a farm with her family in Saskatchewan.  After Canada declares war against Germany in World War II, she joins the British Women’s Auxiliary Air Force as an aerial photographic interpreter, working with intelligence officers at RAF Medmenham in England…”     Battlefront Nurses in WWI is written by Maureen Duffus.  “This is the story of four years in the lives of two Nursing Sisters who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Esquimalt, BC in 1915.  Both served overseas in England, Salonika, and France as lieutenants with the Canadian Army Medical Corps.”       Pip Beck wrote Keeping Watch – A WAAF in Bomber Command. This is “… a true story by a WWII RAF Bomber Command Radio Telephony operator who talked down the crews on Read more...
    Date: March 6, 2019 Category: Books, Collections, News & Events, Posts
    In addition to the books shared earlier, there are two that look at the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) –   ‘Archie’ Hall, WAAF wrote We, Also, Were There.  “ This is a collection of recollections of those hitherto forgotten young women, the WAAF of Bomber Command, some of them very young, leaving home for the first time – pitched overnight into a strange, and at first, terrifying world.  It tells of the fun, the tragedy, the comradeship, and above all, dedication to the job.” The writer recalls her work with Intelligence/Operations, “Just at the time when the Battle of Britain was hotting up I joined the WAAF as a plotter… the most coveted job at that time for WAAFs – to be a plotter in the Battle of Britain!  These were exciting and dramatic days, and many pictures of this Operations Room (No. 11 Group Fighter Operations Room at Uxbridge) have since been shown on television, etc. It is now a museum, called ‘The Bunker’ – we used to call it ‘The Hole’.”   The WAAF – A History of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in the Second World War was written by Squadron Leader Beryl E. Escott.  The WAAF was raised a few weeks before the war started in 1939 to provide, “among other trades, telephonists, plotters and radar operations at RAF stations and British embassies around the world, and this is what they are remembered for.  But they undertook duties from cleaning and clerical work to becoming dental Read more...
    Date: March 5, 2019 Category: Aircraft, Collections, Links, News & Events, Posts
    [caption id="attachment_10890" align="alignleft" width="150"] AL WILSON[/caption]   This is our March edition of Al Wilson's cartoons.  As always, it's our honour to continue to share Al Wilson's work for all of you to enjoy.     Al created ads for a number of reasons.  This month we'll have a look at three of them:   [caption id="attachment_10946" align="aligncenter" width="714"] MONTE CARLO NIGHT[/caption]       [caption id="attachment_10947" align="aligncenter" width="1307"] TOTEM TIMES ~ JOIN THE STAFF[/caption]       [caption id="attachment_10948" align="aligncenter" width="700"] WIENER ROAST AND DANCE[/caption]
    Date: March 4, 2019 Category: Books, Collections, News & Events, Posts
    Don't let the title of this book fool you!  It's an emotional roller coaster! Written by Nano Pennefather-McConnell, We Never Stopped Dancing is referred to as an Airwoman’s Scrapbook.  Beginning her time in Canada, she writes, “My ebullient mood was shattered a few days later.  The news flashed around the station.  A Bolingbroke training bomber had crashed into Lake Erie.  There were no survivors.  I was told to come back to the office after supper, to send telegrams to the next-of-kin.  I felt numb. The plane had crashed while practice bombing.  I finally understood why the airmen called the Bolingbrokes ‘flying coffins’.” She later posted for Great Britain.  Upon arrival, “The bombed-out streets of London looked familiar from all the pictures we have seen.  The difference, of course, was that now we were inside the picture, and the damaged buildings were all around us.  When we got to our rooms we were given the day off… we saw a few of the sights and then headed for the Beaver Club where we were welcomed with open arms.  Two boys stopped us and said, ‘Say something in Canadian for us, girls.’  The Beaver Club was a place where Canadians in London congregated to meet friends from home.  We couldn’t wait to go… In the days ahead, I was to meet some of the men in No. 4 Canadian Hospital who had returned from Dieppe.  It would be the first time I had met anyone who had been directly involved with the enemy.  Read more...
    Date: March 3, 2019 Category: Books, Collections, News & Events, Posts
    Two more reads from our Museum Library that might interest you:   Greatcoats and Glamour Boots ~ Canadian Women at War (1935 - 1945) "Many young Canadian women desperately wanted to be of service to their country, 'to free a man to fight', as the recruiting posters urged and by the war's end almost 50,000 of them had enlisted 'for the duration'."  This book is a collage of anecdotal and documentary material; it includes photos and sketches from public and private collections as well as from military archives. In the Chapter “Joining Up”, women reflect on the reasons for enlisting. Not all of them ended up being happy with their choice, however.  One former member of the WD (Women’s Division) recalls, “I was in nine months and ten days exactly, and ten days after I got in, I wanted to get out.  My purpose in joining up was to get away from home, period!  It was the routine I hated…I didn’t like being told what to do…I was too independent to enjoy being in the service.” “Preparing to Serve” was also an interesting chapter.  A woman remembers that “they processed people like a sausage machine.  You got your medical, did your aptitude test and were classified and slotted.  Then you were sworn in and told to report on such-and-such a date…I’ll never forget it, what did they serve us for dinner but cold macaroni with gravy on top of it!  There were no cooks on duty!  That was just the beginning.  Read more...
    Date: March 2, 2019 Category: Aircraft, Books, News & Events, Posts
    International Women's Week runs from today, March 2nd, till March 8th, International Women's Day.  This year the theme is "Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change". Our Museum Library has a number of books that you might be interested in reading; if you can't come in for a browse, you might find these titles in your local library.  We'll share a few titles throughout the coming week.   A History of Women in the Canadian Military ~ The author, Barbara Dundas, wrote about women in Canada's Armed Forces.  The Governor General of Canada at the time, Adrienne Clarkson, celebrated the book, "I am sure that anyone who is interested in the ever-evolving role of women will deeply appreciate this book that chronicles an important part of their full and equal inclusion in our society and our national institutions."  The author begins the story in 1885 during the North-West Rebellion, a time when Canadian women first answered the call to military service; the Minister of Militia and Defence ordered a medical contingent to accompany the expedition ~ thus the need for women nurses. When the military operations were successfully concluded, the five nurses, along with the rest of the medical staff, accompanied the wounded to Winnipeg where their patients received additional medical attention.   [caption id="attachment_8101" align="aligncenter" width="300"] NURSING SISTERS (National Archives of Canada)[/caption]   Throughout the immediate post World War II period, the nurses saw the most widespread service.  While military operations in Korea were still in progress, nurses were Read more...
    Date: March 1, 2019 Category: Community Outreach, Member Info, News & Events, Posts
    [caption id="attachment_12773" align="alignleft" width="281"] JON AMBLER[/caption] After ten years as our Museum's Programme Manager and Volunteer Coordinator, Jon Ambler has retired.  In addition to spearheading a number of museum upgrades and co-creating the popular Aleutian Campaign Exhibit, Jon consistently reached out to the community to inform groups of children as well as adults about the history of west coast military aviation.  He taught high school students, elementary school students, welcomed adult organizations into the museum for lectures and guided tours, ensured the participation of the museum in local events, and wrote a book celebrating the history of the Comox Air Force Museum to commemorate the museum's 30th Anniversary.  While we'll miss him in that role, we're looking forward to his eventual return as a volunteer.       [caption id="attachment_9657" align="alignleft" width="224"] CAROL POPKIN[/caption]   Introducing Carol Popkin ~ our new Programme Manager and Volunteer Coordinator... Carol has been a volunteer with the museum since 2016, involved in a number of projects, and most recently took the lead with our Collections Management Inventory Project.  We look forward to working with Carol in her new role. and invite you to meet her when you next visit the museum.  
    Date: February 20, 2019 Category: Aircraft, News & Events, Posts
    I read an article the other day that opened my eyes to the very different roles that aircraft have that are very rarely told or are kept out of the public domain for security reasons. The aircraft I would like to tell you about is the Battle of Britain Memorial flight Chipmunk (WG 486). She was designed by De Havilland Canada and built in 1952 at the plant near Chester, England, as a basic trainer. The aircraft began its operational life in Cyprus as an airborne air observer platform for the Army Air Corps. Once it finished in Cyprus, it began its designated job as a basic trainer going through various training squadrons until reaching the University Air Squadron at Bristol University.   1987 saw the aircraft move to RAF Gatow, West Germany. This is where the role changed drastically. To understand why we should look at the history of Germany post WWII. Following the German surrender in 1945, the country was divided into 2 parts, east and west. The Soviets were given the east sector, the three other allies, the west.     Berlin being the capital was also divided into control zones. This was formalized at the Potsdam Conference in 1946. Part of this agreement allowed unhindered entrance into each other's sectors by command staff to keep an eye on each other's equipment etc. This was the beginning of the Cold War and tensions between east and west were to grow, including distrust in each other. Churchill famously Read more...
    Date: February 17, 2019 Category: Community Outreach, Links, News & Events, Posts
    February 18th to the 24th is Heritage BC Week, a special week dedicated to celebrating the many diverse aspects of BC’s heritage. This is a good time to check out some of our local museums!  Each celebrates heritage in a unique way…   CUMBERLAND MUSEUM AND ARCHIVES ~ This museum is located in the heart of the historic Village, steps from #6 Memorial Mine Park and downtown shopping and dining. They are wheelchair accessible, offer free wireless internet access and provide Visitor Services for travelers.     COURTENAY AND DISTRICT MUSEUM AND PALAEONTOLOGY CENTRE ~ The Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre has a mandate to preserve the cultural and natural heritage of the area.  Visit to find out why the Comox Valley – past and present, is one of the most plentiful places on earth.     COMOX MUSEUM ARCHIVES AND MUSEUM SOCIETY ~ The history of Comox and area is alive in an evolving exhibit where the museum shows timelines of the development from the exploration of Vancouver Island through to modern times. They feature family histories, slide shows, maps and many photos to build a picture of the transitioning through time.     THE ALBERNI PROJECT – HMCS ALBERNI MUSEUM AND MEMORIAL ~ The Alberni Project is a program of remembrance which pays tribute to the men who served on HMCS Alberni.  Exhibits and displays cover stories of Canadians in the Great War through present day missions of all branched of the Canadian military and civilian service.     Read more...
    Date: February 15, 2019 Category: Community Outreach, News & Events, Posts
    The national flag of Canada was inaugurated 54 years ago on February 15, 1965.  The anniversary of this date is officially called the “National Flag of Canada Day”, often shortened to “Flag Day”.  The red-white-red flag with the maple leaf in the centre replaced the Canadian red ensign on that day. George F.G. Stanley designed our current flag, which is inspired by the Royal Military College of Canada’s flag.  A multi-parliamentary committee formed to select a new flag unanimously chose the design on October 29, 1964; the House of Commons passed the design on December 15, 1964.  Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed the new flag on January 28, 1965, and it was inaugurated on February 15, 1965. Our Canadian national flag, sometimes referred to as the “maple leaf flag”, is flown on many buildings, including private homes on National Flag of Canada Day.  Some people wear pins in the form of the flag; schools often have special lessons on the Canadian national flag and its history around this time of year. Special public events have been held in some years.  For example, one million flags were distributed in the “One in a Million National Flag Challenge” in 1996 so Canadians could display them on Flag Day in 1997.  In 2005, celebrations were held to honour the 40th anniversary of the flag’s inauguration.  Some businesses gave out flags or decorated buildings with large versions of the red and white maple leaf flag. The image of the red maple leaf is not only Read more...
    Date: February 14, 2019 Category: Aircraft, News & Events, Posts
    I recently heard from a reader, Mark, whose father served with the RCAF.  Mark has something special that has been passed down to him ~ an Al Wilson cartoon.  This is a pencil crayon sketch done in May of 1963.  Mark recalls loving it as a child and still treasures it as an adult.  Mark has given us permission to share the drawing with you.  Thanks so much, Mark!  
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