DOWNSVIEW AIRPORT by Ken Swartz


Photos © Ken Swartz

Ken Swartz shares my interest in vintage aircraft and aviation history. His focus includes the vintage large multi propellor aircraft as well as 'sky trucking' bushplanes.
Comments with the photographs are mainly Ken's, additional information is sometimes added by the webmaster.

Ken approached me in May 2021 with an idea: "I have a lot of historic photos of the The deHavilland Aircraft of Canada Limited’s aircraft factory at Downsview Airport, which later became the home of the Toronto Aerospace Museum.
I’m going to feed you some photos of aircraft that were once in the museum collection as well as photos taken at the same site which first started assembling DH.60 Moths in 1929.
For you to consider which of these to add on my gallery or create a webpage called Downsview Airport,
(Toronto) and place these past and present photos."
Ken obviously involves side trips into this 'document'. Enjoy!

 

 

Toronto Aerospace Museum, Downsview Airport.
The Toronto Aerospace Museum was formed as a non-profit society after Canadian Forces Base Toronto at Downsview Airport was closed in 1996.
The Canada Lands Corporation invited community representatives to submit proposals for the future use of building on the property, which included all of The deHavilland Aircraft of Canada Limited’s pre-war and wartime aircraft factory, as well as postwar jet engine plant and a large RCAF Cold War military warehouse.
A proposal from a group of Toronto area aviation enthusiasts to establish a Museum at Downsview was accepted and the group was able to rent a large hangar for $1 a year. It had had been built in 1940, as a large paint shop for Avro Anson IIs and later DH 98 Mosquito being built by DHC employees.
Once the museum was formed, three major volunteer projects got underway: renovations to the dilapidated building, the construction of a full scale replica of the famous Avro Arrow interceptor cancelled in 1959, and the restoration of Avro Lancaster Mk X, FM104 which was displayed on the Toronto waterfront from 1964 to 1999.

Sea Prince C-GJIE 567-CU at Downsview
Percival Sea Prince T.1, C-GJIE 567-CU, at Downsview airport (Toronto) - 30May2005

On 13Nov1999, Percival Sea Prince T.1 C-GJIE was flown from Oshawa Airport (YOO) to Downsview Airport, to become one of the first airworthy aircraft in the Toronto Aerospace Museum collection.
This aircraft was donated to the museum by Atlantis Transportation Services of Oshawa Airport which had restored the aircraft in dayglow Royal Navy markings during the 1990s, any might have tried to use it for cargo charters.
In the early 2000s, there was some talk around the museum of using the aircraft to fly passengers to generate much needed revenue, but the lack of volunteers with an aircraft maintenance background and the high cost of insurance meant the Sea Prince would never flew again.
About 4 years later, the museum was running out of space in the hangar, as the Arrow replica started to be assembled, the Lancaster restoration needed more room and aircraft like a deHavilland Canada-built Grumman
CS-2F Tracker and Canadair CT-133 were added to the collection.
This was when the museum decided to deaccession the Sea Prince from its collection and offer it for sale to a willing buyer.
Initially, the Sea Prince was sold to a buyer in St. Catharines,Ont. but the deal fell through. Then the museum received an offer from Peter Muehlegg to take the aircraft in trade for a Cessna 150 hull the museum could restore for their student aviation education programs.

Sea Prince C-GJIE 567-CU at Downsview
Percival Sea Prince T.1, C-GJIE 567-CU, at Skywagon City Airport (Breckin, Ontario) - 10Nov2007

Muehlegg operated Skywagon City, a successful aviation parts business and aircraft maintenance business. He did this from his 100-acre ranch that had a 2,100 foot grass runway, just north of Brechin, Ontario.
Brechin is about 60 miles north of Toronto on the northeast shore of Lake Simcoe, not far from the town Orillia. (Adress: 2851 Skywagon Blvd, Concession 7, Brechin, Ontario, LOK 1BO).
He began his aviation career washing airplanes at Markham Airport at the age of 13 in 1978, then working for Toronto Airways at Buttonville Airport.
Later, he opened his successful aircraft upholstery business, Trim Air, in Beaverton. He established Skywagon City in 1994 in Brechin, which specialized in Cessna 180 & 185 Skywagon, 182 Skylane and 206 Stationair spare parts.
Muehlegg’s father-in-law was Herb Cunningham, who also had a very successful aircraft parts business in Ontario for many years.

HawkerSiddeley HS748_Skywagon City Airport_Breckin, Ontario_ 10Nov07
UNIDENTIFIED - HawkerSiddeley HS748 at Skywagon City Airport (Breckin, Ontario) - 10Nov07

In May 2007, I (Ken) drove to Brechin to tour Muehlegg's business and was surprised to learn that he also rented aircraft and aircraft parts to Toronto’s booming movie production business.
In his yard I also discovered 2 Hawker Siddeley HS748 fuselages, which he had acquired from Springer Aerospace in Bar River, Ont. plus an airliner nose (DC-9?), 2 Sikorsky HH-3 helicopter hulls (which had been burnt during a movie filming) and a Bell OH-58 Kiowa helicopter...
I only managed to photograph one of the two HS748 fuselages, which had the city name 'Val-d’Or' painted over in black on the nose.

I was surprised to discover that the 150 acre ranch next door to Skywagon City also had had an airport!
This 150 acre farm was owned by Doug Rogan, who also had an aircraft parts and maintenance business, two 2.000 foot grass runways, and a 2.000 ft long water runway, which Rogan himself had build so he could do maintenance work on floatplanes.

HawkerSiddeley HS748 at Skywagon City Airport (Breckin, Ontario) - 10Nov07

Muehlegg died suddenly on 07Mar2015.
I didn’t know what happened to the Sea Prince until I visited Brechin in August 2018 and noticed that it was still at Skywagon City and also that Rogan had a dismantled Bombardier CRJ700 regional jet in Lufthansa CityLine colours for sale at his own airport!
Rogan also specializes in aircraft salvage and his Facebook page shows him salvaging one of the Northstar Basler BT-67 which had crashed in a lake in Northwestern Ontario, a few years ago.
The latest Google aerial photos ofSkywagon Cityhas been cleaned up and most of the aircraft wrecks have been removed.
I need to make another trip to Brechin to learn what happened to the Sea Prince and the HS748 fuselages! www.dougronan.com/interesting_pictures

Downsview aerial
Markers on the left 'Skywagon City' and 'Sea Prince 2005-2017' | On the right: 'Doug Renan Aircraft'
Label: 'Ramara Ontario 44.570545, -79.229647'

Unidentfied nose
UNIDENTIFIED plane nose (Douglas DC-9?) at Skywagon City Airport (Breckin, Ontario) - 10Nov07

 

 

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