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The Royal Mail

Tough, dependable, versatile and able to operate on skis, floats and wheels, the Fokker Super Universal distinguished itself in Canadian aviation history.

The Western Canada Aviation Museum has the last flying Fokker Super Universal in the world.

Voodoo CF-101

The Voodoo, an all-weather interceptor, began RCAF/CAF service in 1961 and some served until 1986. Sixty-six aircraft were acquired to replace the Avro CF-100 and later these were replaced by a second sixty-six from the US Air Force. The CF-101B was replaced in turn by the CF-18. Bristol Aerospace, Winnipeg was the overhaul, supply and maintenance facility for the CF-101B.

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Canada’s bush pilots were a uniquely Canadian breed who endured incredible hardships in a relentless environment. They represented the spirit of adventure and determination in trying to make a living out of flying. Fur-clad and courageous, with the glamour of movie stars, they flew north into the unmapped hinterlands of the last great frontier. With little – if any – radio communication, plane and pilot often disappeared for days on end. They were dependent upon fuel caches being left in remote areas, on compasses made unreliable by magnetic influences and on maps that had large areas labeled UNEXPLORED.

Flying under primitive conditions over vast, difficult terrain in the most challenging weather conditions, the early bush pilots created legends for themselves and their country. Pilot and plane did more to open up and reveal the undeveloped wealth of northern Canada than men on foot, in canoes or on dog sleds had done in the previous centuries. The North had remained almost a sealed book until the airmen explored it. This period was the most colorful, adventure-crammed and remarkable era of Canada’s aviation history.

Pilots were vitally reliant on the toughness and ingenuity of their air engineers, whose capacity for improvisation was legendary. These men worked magic with their emergency repairs to failed engines and damaged aircraft. 

The harsh environment, the hazards of cold, snow, ice, unreliable engines, the isolation and inadequate maps all added to the usual obstacles of developing a new frontier. There was no doubt that the success of an operation depended upon the skill, courage and persistence of the pilots. They had to rely on their own sense of direction, have an exceptional memory for topographical features and generally ‘fly by the seat of their pants’.

It was the precariousness of the flying that fascinated the public and the media alike. These men conquered a vast, difficult terrain in the most challenging weather conditions and established international reputations.

This was the golden era of bush flying – these are the stories that we at the Western Canada Aviation Museum seek to share, as it is a source of pride for all Canadians.

 

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• The Western Canada Aviation Museum was incorporated in 1974 by five Manitobans who saw Canada’s aviation history disappearing into the hands of the Americans and the British. Early members began by meeting in private homes, later in one room at the Manitoba Museum. In 1978, we purchased 7500 square feet at 11 Lily Street and opened our first public exhibits.

• In 1983 with the help of the provincial and federal governments, we purchased the four buildings of the former Trans Canada Airlines complex at the international airport.

• From the dedication of the five founding members, the Western Canada Aviation Museum has grown into an award-winning heritage institution with a world-class reputation for having one of the most significant bush plane collections in the world as well as one of the country’s most extensive collections of aircraft and aviation artifacts. We also have many one-of-a-kind aircraft, such as Canada’s first helicopter and the only example of the single engine Junkers 52. We have retrieved aircraft from across Canada – from the sides of mountains to the bottoms of lake in the Far North. We have painstakingly authentically restored and curated them to showcase the story of Canada’s rich and unique aviation heritage.

• The aircraft on display reflect the most complete collection of bush aircraft in North America. Our collection is truly national in scope, showcasing the ‘adventure and innovation’ that characterizes the early period of Canada’s aviation history. Other examples include transport, military, private and commercial aircraft that encompass Canadian innovations across the board.

 

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