Photos © Ruud Leeuw
|The Reynolds-Alberta Museum is located between Edmonton and Red Deer in Alberta, Canada, 65 kilometers south of Edmonton. It is located off Highway 2 or 2A, one kilometer west of the city of Wetaskiwin on Highway 13, or east from Highway 2, near the Wetaskiwin airport.
Over the years I had seen messages pass on forums which made curious for this museum; what made me decide I had to go here on this trip (besides being in the general area) were the trial and tribulations surrounding the Bristol Freighter...
|C-GYQS is a Bristol 170 Freighter Mk.31 (c/n 13060) and one with a story to tell... but that is why I like these propliners so much!
"On 06Jul99 Hawkair's Bristol Freighter C-GYQS took off from Bronson Creek airstrip with the last 3 white bags aboard, containing the ground down and concentrated gold ore mined from the Snip Mine alongside this famous strip. In a journey lasting 25 minutes, the Freighter flew the precious load to Wrangell,AK from where the ore would be shipped to Japan for processing."
This is the first alinea of an article written by Peter F.Peyer in Propliner magazine (no.79, 1999). Mr Peyer also writes that by 06Jul99 'QS had flown 16.949 hours and had made 21.450 cycles.
When the Snip Mine closed (the remaining gold laden ore was too low in grade, the mine was exhausted), 'QS became unemployed and the only flyable Bristol Freighter was subsequently stored by Hawkair at Terrace,BC.
Hawkair ran into financial problems, restructured itself with more modern aircraft and in the process donated 'QS to the Reynolds Museum; after a period of restoration to prepare it for the ferry flight across the Canadian Rocky Mountains, this unique plane landed at Wetaskiwin on 06Sep04.
But instead of further restoration by the museum, problems arose from an unexpected angle...
It seemed Hawkair was in a sort of bankruptcy similar to the US' Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws and while donated, this Freighter represented some value the caretakers wanted to have their hands on and the donation was cancelled; instead, the Bristol Freighter was put up for sale again...
While there was interest from the UK to bring it 'home', it was bought at an auction early 2006 by an American; what he would want with it I don't know as overhauling to full airworthiness would cost a fortune, require specialised skills & parts and since it would be a new type to the US it would require a lengthy certification procedure...
Aviation history for this classic transport started as G-18-114 for The Bristol Aeroplane Company, found its first job with Royal New Zealand Air Force (NZ5907, 09Dec52), became ZK-EPD for Dwen Airmotive (Aug78), went to the UK for Instone Airlines (G-AMLK, Sep82), returned to Dwen Airmotive (ZK-EPD, Apr84), was bought by Trans Provincial Airlines (C-GYQS, Sep97), became inactive and was bought by MRS 4000 Investments Ltd (Apr94) until bought by Hawkair Aviation Services in June 1994. (Source of these history details : Piston Engine Airliner Production List, TAHS 2002)
Such a history does deserve preservation with dignity, I'd say!!
The book "My Life in the North" by Jack Lamb (of Manitoba's Lambair) has an interesting chapter on the use of the Bristol Freighter in the Arctic North.
Another great book, about flying in the north and chapters featuring the Bristol Freighter, is "The Arctic Fox", by Don C.Braun & John C.Warren.
Let's get inside, out of the blistering sunshine and restore some energy in the aircondioned display area here.
The biplane in front is a 1928 American Eagle.
|This aircraft was built as a transport plane for the United States Army Air Force. It was used as a passenger cargo carrier by Shell Oil from 1955 until 1969, when it was purchased by the Alberta Government.
Alberta Air Transportation Services used the DC-3 for general duties and to fly forest fire-fighters and their supplies into remote northern areas.
If you come to the museum have a look under this plane...: there are a pair of 2,000 pound thrust rocket boosters on its belly!!
|CF-DTE is a Beechcraft D17S "Staggerwing".
It's a high performance 5 place biplane which plainly oozes speed...
It is of 1943-vintage and the engine is a Pratt & Whitney R985, 9 cylinders pounding in that radial engine, producing 450hp and a speed of 211mph.
Its saw use in the 1940s and 1950s mainly.
Hanging is a Curtiss Robin, CF-ALZ.
Reynolds-Alberta Museum on Wikipedia
The Avro Avian was designed for pilot training and sport flying. Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame member, "Wop" May, used an Avro Avian on his famous delivery of diptheria anti-toxin to Fort Vermilion during the winter of 1929.
The website The Friends of Reynolds-Alberta Museum also offers much information and events at this museum.
An overview and one can see the bright red Travel Air Speedwing again; the tailnumber is CF-JLW.
This Hornet Moth was used as a mining exploration airplane for the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company from 1936 to 1947. It operated year-round on wheels skis and floats.
CF-AYG spent its entire working career in Western Canada and is a rare survivor.
There were 165 built.
Capacity: 1 pilot & 1 passenger
Engine: 130 hp, 130 mph.
The 1929 Curtiss Robin is in original condition. CF-ALZ was operated in Alberta and the North West Territories from 1930 to 1940 as a cargo and passenger bush plane. It was scrapped in 1941.
This airplane is the same model as CF-ALZ and was used for general freight and passenger duties in the United States until it was imported into Canada in 1987.
It is the only Curtiss Robin in Canada.
760 examples were built by the Curtiss-Robertson Airplane Manufacturing Company in St. Louis Missouri between 1928 and 1931.
The Cessna Airmaster was considered ahead of its time when it appeared in 1934, because it could carry 4 people for 966 km (600miles) at a cruise speed of 241 kph (150mph) on only 145 horsepower. This impressive performance earned it the title of the world’s most efficient airplane!
It was one of the most desirable light passenger aircraft of it’s day.
Only 46 examples of this type were built.
The Bellanca 31-55A Senior Skyrocket (manufactured 1946) was the last series of bush planes designed by the famous Bellanca Company; only 20 Skyrockets were built: 7 in the USA and 13 in Canada. CF-DCH is the Canadian prototype.
Canadian-built Hawker Hurricane Mk.XII, RCAF 5418
Here is more on the museum at Answers.com
|This is a 1936 Fleet Fawn Mk.II CF-CHF (c/n 58), ex RCAF 220.|
|Outside is a Celebrity Row of famous jetfighters and a helicopter.|
Ok, that concludes my visit to this museum. Wasn't there more ? Yes, there is more but my visit here ended at the end of the afternoon and I forgot to check with the frontdesk where the storage warehouse was...
But Arnold Begeman lived around here for a few months during 2006 and was more thorough; so he sent me some photos of the planes I had missed!
|I had no idea
Definitely something to go back for one day. Thanks Arnold!
This museum and its storage facilities was discussed in nov.2014 on Classic-Propliner (Yahoo) forum and I have copied some of it to illustrate a visit to these facilities need some prior contact with the museum:
1. Odd you should get that response from Reynolds about access to the storage hangar. It is possible, though you do need a guide and there is a fee of C$75 which I think applies regardless of the size of the group. Once inside, our guide was quite happy to let us wander around (though there was only two of us).
2. There are actually several museums co-located at Wetaskiwin. When I published my CAF serials and designations book nearly 20 years ago, I wrote to Byron Reynolds and asked which aircraft were in which museum and for their official names. I don't have his letter handy, but things may well have changed since then anyway.
3. Last time I was here, a few years back, the dismantled Air Spray A26 was still outside one of the hangars on the GA side of the airfield. There is a restoration hangar here and also two storage hangars with Byron Reynolds collection some of which is part of the Reynolds-Alberta museum, but I believe some is also his private collection, not really sure about that. There are several other vintage aircraft privately owned also around these hangars.
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