Saturday, 22 July 2017

At the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, near Toronto, Canada

Niagara falls!
It's hard believe that we've only been home for a few days. Exactly one a week ago, Phil and I were still in Canada sitting in a Airbus H 130 helicopter cruising low over the stunning Niagara falls.

we were in one of those!

The flight actually turned out to be longer than average with 17mins and took us over right along the gorge, then a big loop over the falls before routing along the south side of the city back to base.

A great experience! And lucky we came early as the queues quickly expanded.
view to the falls from the helicopter
We then headed towards Toronto but stopped at the Canadian warplane heritage museum in Hamilton, As we approached the airfield, we heard some wonderful deep sounds. There they were: a Lancaster followed by a Catalina.
The Lancaster after its flight
The Catalina. Phil flew across Africa in one of those many years ago
What a great chance to see those rare aeroplanes flying! And to our astonishment, no other than celebrity rock star and keen aviator Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden stepped out of the Lancaster obviously having taken this opportunity to get some hands on flying prior to a late night concert in downtown Toronto.
The 'other' Beech on display in the museum
The Canadian Warplane Museum is certainly one of the best in the world in terms of historic aircraft but even more to the point: nearly all of their aircraft are still in use and flying!
If you want to have a ride though in the Lanci, you need to book about a year in advance and have a big bank account! Ours was empty and we were too late anyway...
Phil and Bill

But we enjoyed very nice chats with the chief pilot and some of the airport/museum staff and we saw Betty's sister!! This aircraft is also still flying and beautifully maintained by an engineer who funnily turns out to be from Bristol! (not the many other Bristols that you will find the States, but ours in the UK!)

We were kindly introduced to Beech pilot Bill McBride who talked about this aircraft but also seemed to know quite a lot about Betty's origins.
Listen to this short talk between Bill and Phil sitting in the Beechcraft:

It turns out that our aircraft would be better suited to the museum, because our saw 10 years or more in use as a navigation trainer for the Royal Canadian Air force. Oh well, maybe one day she finds a home here - at least she would be in brilliant company and in very good hands!

We then drove to Toronto where we enjoyed a final farewell dinner with Chris and Melaya Horston before boarding our BA flight back to London.
in the heli...
4 weeks away, 4000 nautical miles by air and 2500miles by road, 4 countries, 6 balloon flights and 35hours in the Beech! We had an amazing time and are extremely grateful and relieved that it all went so well!

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