The Canadian Museum of Flight, WWI Aircraft Restoration


2017 is a big year for us Canadians. – Yes, not only is it Canada’s 150th birthday, but it’s also the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in France. – For Canada, this battle and World War I shaped our identity as a strong and
independent country. – Which is why the Canadian Museum of Flight is putting on one heck of an air show to honor the Canadians who gave their lives for us during the battle. – Vancouver’s Grant Hardy headed to the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley, BC to learn about the special project they’ve
been working on. – [Allen] Being
in the cockpit with the wind blowing in your hair, I could almost take myself back to the time I looked down and see the trenches and the shell holes. – [Grant] For retired pilot, Allen French, flying in a
replica biplane was like sitting in a time machine. Allen is part of a team at the Canadian
Museum of Flight in Langley, BC that has built three replica World War I fighters, two Sopwith Pups,
and a single SE5. – [Allen] Pretty much everything was a biplane. They had two wings on either side, an upper set, a lower set. They’re not
really all that different in technology, basic technology, from modern airplanes. They have a
wing, they have a tailplane, they
have a rutter. – [Grant] The planes are taking part in a very special
celebration, the 100th
anniversary of the Battle of Vimy
Ridge in France. And according to Allen, victory at Vimy owed a lot to
these aircraft. – They were the ones that provided the area reconnaissance. They tried to gain air superiority over the battlefield, which was the
key to success in the Battle
of Vimy Ridge. – [Grant] Their importance to the war effort and Canadian aviation history is not lost on lead builder
Ray Fessenden. – Vimy Ridge was really what put Canada on the map because that was
the first time that Canadian soldiers had been commanded by Canadian officers. And from my understanding is is that they did not follow the conventions that the British were normally used to, and that was one of the reasons for the success. – [Grant] Successfully building the replicas took committed volunteers and many hours
of hard work and was not without its challenges. – [Ray] We had
very few people who had an aviation
background, and so, there was a lot of training involved. The challenging part was figuring out, okay this is what’s gotta be done, how are we gonna do it, because the drawings didn’t necessarily
show it. And so, it was a matter of us figuring out how we’re going to. Unfortunately, dollars was one of our big
hold backs too because we were waiting on bits and pieces to come in that were stopping
the process. – [Grant] Their
dedication and hard work
eventually paid off and the planes were ready for their test flights. (engine starting) – Before the
test flight, we were a little apprehensive as to what was
gonna happen. The big concern was not the flight. It was the landing. If the aircraft is difficult to handle, a new aircraft to a pilot can catch him off guard. The pilot who
flew these says it was just totally
predictable. Everything was exactly the way it was. – [Grant] Knowing that they passed their test, I asked Allen
to take me for a pre-flight pilot’s
inspection which included feeling the propellor and wings and getting into
the cockpit. – I use my iPhone for navigation. – Oh nice. Nice, nice. – And so, you
have a couple of USB ports going there for charging your iPhone. – Awesome. USB ports, now that is my kind of aircraft. – Well, good. It was a pleasure. – Awesome, thanks. It was fun getting to sit in the plane, but as they were
disassembled for shipping to France, Ray summed up the team’s feelings. – I think it’s
fantastic that these aircraft are gonna fly over Vimy, and I’m gonna be very proud to be there. – I don’t know
about you, Molly, but to see a group of people work tirelessly to accomplish a project like that, I’m definitely
moved by it all. – Of course,
a battle isn’t something to celebrate, but it’s important to honor those who made
sacrifices or lost their lives for
our country. And this is an incredible way to do so. – In addition to the Vimy 100 flyover, the planes will
also be flying coast to coast
across Canada, including a flyover of Parliament Hill for Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1st. – If you would like to learn more or donate to help fund the rest of the project, you could visit their website
canadianflight.org.

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