The Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association (CHAA) celebrated the 80th Anniversary of the Harvard plane in Canada Saturday at the Tillsonburg Regional Airport.
Events were planned all day, including backseat rides, but the weather was questionable at 9 a.m.
“It started out kind of shaky, but we did good,” said Terry Scott, CHAA public relations chair.
“We were marking the 80th anniversary of the Harvard in Canada. It arrived in Canada in 1939 to participate in the BCAPT (British Commonwealth Air Training Plan) and ultimately served to train thousands of air crew. We thought it would be a nice opportunity to get some of our planes out – we’re back up to four flying Harvards, currently. We hope to possibly be up to six by this time next year.”
The six would include one that will have a new engine later this year and the debut of the ‘BZT’ next spring that they have been restoring for several years.
“That will bring us up to six flying Harvards of our eight Harvard collection.”
CHAA marked the anniversary by offering a special fee for a 10-minute ride in a Harvard.
“We had a good number of rides up here today. The weather started out a little bit dicey, but the skies did clear for the most part and we got a good number of flights in today.
“It’s nice to have four birds in the air thanks to the hard work of our maintenance and restorations crews – and all of our volunteers. We are volunteer based and we wouldn’t be in existence if it wasn’t for the sweat equity that they bring to the table.”
Inside the hangar a collection of flags were displayed on a wall, one for each nation that flew Harvards, which were mainly built in the USA and Canada.
“They just put these up this morning – these are countries that have used the Harvards.”
Visitors came from as far away as Markham and Burlington (father and son riders).
“One thing we always like to stress is that we’re always looking for new members to keep the history alive,” said Scott.
CHAA, which is based in Tillsonburg, recently received some international exposure in the August issue of the FlyPast magazine, who featured the association on several pages.
Recently CHAA joined the Tilsonburg District Chamber of Commerce, and in May hosted one of the Business After Five events.
“One of the things we stressed is that Tillsonburg should take pride in the fact that we’re based here. And that we’re always open to doing corporate team building events here for companies. Yes, we are a museum that displays our aircraft, we have static displays, and we also keep the ‘birds’ in the air in the memory of those that served. But we’re also open to doing other things to get very involved in the community and hosting events out here at the airport. And the airport is very keen on that too, this is a growing airport and we really appreciate that here.”
CHAA typically hosts several fly days every year at the airport in South-West Oxford Township, north of Tillsonburg. The most recent was on Father’s Day.
“Our next major event is our Wings and Wheels Family Fun Day on Sept. 14. The rain date is Sunday the 15th.”