It was a day five years in the making. Its been five years since we were alerted to the possibility of another attempted sale of the Calgary Mosquito. Four years since we created a society
to see it kept here and finally restored. We went to air shows, schools, service clubs and businesses to recruit members and to build support. We spent endless hours at City Hall and in
committee meetings. We met with our members every month. All of it added up to this day; we got to move the Mosquito to the site of its restoration: the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in
Over 50 people had a hands-on involvement in moving the airplane. None worked harder than board member Jack McWilliam in planning the move, building crates, scrounging materials and
recruiting expert assistance for the day. Daryl Medd of Rangeland Truck and Crane was our star of the day providing two tractors, one flat deck and two 53' closed vans to move the airplane.
The value of his easy way and expertise were beyond measure.
In the end, we got the airplane moved in 12 hours; an amazing feat. Each of us involved in the move will have our own experience of the day as we pushed, pulled, packed and photographed.
For the moment let me share with you some of the thousands of smile moments that made up the day for me.
Such was our day.
- My day started with a couple of media events. When I showed up at the warehouse board member Barry Davidson had a table in the parking lot with coffee, donuts, water, setup and ready
- We had over 25 volunteers at the warehouse, some of whom I had never met before.
- Having all three TV networks show up at the warehouse.
- The first two trucks pulled out of the warehouse as I was fetching lunch for the crew. They had a 10 minute head start on me. I caught up to them just south of Calgary and happily pulled
in behind the flat deck sporting our Merlin engines, propellers and main wheels. I got to play wingman all the way to Nanton. What a beautiful view!
- A few minutes later a motorcycle zipped by me and then hit the brakes as he drew up to the open trailer. Clearly he recognized some of the treasures on this truck. He paralleled the
truck for 10 minutes and followed us all the way to Nanton, staying for the whole day.
- Seeing a Mercedes convertible pass me with an intrepid and determined photographer in the passenger seat snapping away as they pulled up to the trailer. They had been waiting on the High
River overpass for us.
- Just north of Nanton, crossing 'Mosquito Creek'.
- When I pulled into the Museum in Nanton, someone pointed out that Alderman Pincott was there to witness the arrival. He one of our first supporters on council and the one who suggested
the City provide matching funding for the restoration. He couldn't be there for next week's party but wanted to come down and see the results of our campaign and his support. Very cool.
- One of the Nanton board members came up to me and told me that not half an hour prior to our arrival, a visitor to their museum suggested to them that they needed a Mosquito in the
collection. When he was told to wait half an hour the visitor said 'Good. I spent seven years restoring one of those in England'. We have his card.
- The first piece off the truck was a Mosquito main wheel. As it was brought into the hangar, one of the Nanton board members remarked how appropriate it was that the first thing to touch
down was the main gear.
- Watching and enjoying the fact that people worked hard and needed very little direction. We were in 'flow'.
- The spontaneous group photo in front of the fuselage first thing in the morning in Calgary and again in Nanton as soon as it was wheeled into the hangar.
- Finding out at the end of the day that the woman with the fancy camera rig who had been there for the whole day was a Calgary Herald photographer. Then being able to hand her a press kit
that Barry had made up on his own initiative.
- The trucker with the 18 wheeler who stopped in front of the museum and asked "Is that the Mosquito? I heard about it on the radio this morning while I was headed to Edmonton."
- When the trucks left to return for a second load, knowing that with everyone's amazing work and determination we would have 100% of the Mosquito moved and present in one day. That
exceeded all of my expectations.
- Sitting in the kitchen in the museum between loads, just relaxing and chatting with the tribe.
- Spending chat time with our members and volunteers.
- Seeing a Nanton volunteer at work right away with a shop vac, cleaning the dusty and long neglected Mosquito fuselage.
- The Nanton board member's wife who showed up with an armful of crackers, spread and cheese to tide us over while we waited for the second load.
- Sharing Dom Perignon champagne at the end of the day and being able to express my thanks to everyone there.
- Being handed a fly swatter and told to smack the airplane with it, only to hear it exclaim, "Gotcha!" at every swipe.
- Standing inside the hangar once everything was tucked safely inside and heard the satisfying 'thunk' and echo of the big hangar door coming to a close.
- The Chinese buffet down the street for the last of our diehard volunteers at the end of the day.
The day started with almost two dozen volunteers showing up to neatly pack the Mosquito parts into the many crates that CMS Director Jack McWilliam had spent months making. Much of the
separation had been done during the last move and during the previous two inspections by the CMS. (Randy Tychkowsky)
The actual transportation details caused quite a few headaches for the planners. For example, no one had a soft-sided trailer to cover the fuselage and wing as they traveled down the
highway at 110 kph. This left the CMS with standard hard-side trailers that prevented the use of a forklift. The solution was to back the box trailers up to a flat-deck and roll the
enclosed contents back onto the flat-deck, and then to the ground. Here we see the Mosquito's Merlin engine QEC (quick engine change), propellers and main wheels; items that could withstand
the force of the rushing wind. (Randy Tychkowsky)
To quote Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - "The first transport is away..." For many CMS members the sight of our beloved Mosquito finally moving to our care was a day we'd been dreaming
of for years (even decades). Thanks to dozens of volunteers, both CMS and BCMoC, Daryl Medd and Rangeland Trucking, the move was not only a complete success but it was finished in just one
day. (Randy Tychkowsky)
With the flat deck trailer now in Nanton, it was time to move the fuselage. If nothing else made it to Nanton, the fuselage was the 'need to have item', since the following Saturday would be
the CMS and BCMoC 'Meeting the Calgary Mosquito' event and public launch of the Mosquito restoration.
(Doug Bowman and BCMoC)
The second 'need to have' item? The vertical stabilizer and rudder of CF-HMS of course. This rare artifact still has all of its markings from the Mosquito's employment with Spartan Air
(Doug Bowman and BCMoC)
Not ones to overlook an opportunity, the CMS shipped the Hurricane's Merlin engine to Nanton on the same trucks. Since the volunteers at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada will eventually
be rebuilding this engine it only made sense. (Doug Bowman and BCMoC)
Moving the wing was the single biggest challenge, and for those who saw the make-shift shipping cradle she'd been sitting on for more than a decade, you'd understand why. Ultimately however,
the cradle was up to the task and everything arrived in one piece. A better cradle will be one of the first items the CMS addresses as the wing goes into storage to await its turn in the
(Doug Bowman and BCMoC)
Success - the result of dozens of hard workers and a long day's work - one whole Mosquito moved more than 100kms to await her sunny fate.
(Doug Bowman and BCMoC)
Early morning volunteers pose for a quick photo before diving in to the day's work of packing and shipping the Mosquito out of the Calgary warehouse. Few photos of the event actually exist
because everyone was so busy. (via Richard de Boer)
Down in Nanton, our partners at the BCMoC supplied much of the manpower, helping to unload the trucks and move everything into the BCMoC museum shops. (Doug Bowman and BCMoC)