Three Moths and a Hornet
July 11, 2007
These were not insects, of course. At the weekend seven of us flew, by a round-about route because the direct one would only have taken ten minutes, from Rockcliffe to Gatineau Airport on the Quebec side of the river where a pristine new hangar stands, full of restored aircraft, also looking pristine. This is the home of Vintage Wings of Canada, founded recently by a local entrepreneur, Michael Potter. He has bought and can fly all the aircraft himself, though he now has a team of other aviators and maintenance crew to keep his collection regularly airborne. Though relatively limited in scope and only open to the public once a month, this collection is beginning to rival that of the Canada Aviation Museum on the Ontario side. Vintage Wings’ mission statement concludes with what literary critics would call a “purple passage”:
We seek to keep the souls of these aircraft alive through the thundering sound of engines, the smell of leather, glycol, oil and sweat, as well as the laughter of their pilots as they dance with them in their natural element in the skies over Canada.
In and around the hangar, we looked at the Spitfire, the Beaver, the Westland Lysander IIIA (see above, an aircraft my husband adores), the Hawker Hurricane and the three moths: a Tiger Moth, a Fox Moth—this particular one, in authentic colours, originally built for the Prince of Wales (later, King Edward VIII) in 1932—and a Gipsy Moth, which is the type Amy Johnson famously took from Britain to Australia–a flight of 11 thousand miles. Outside on the apron meanwhile, a visiting fighter jet was parked, a Hornet (CF18), which, after waggling all its flaps, rudder parts and ailerons, took off in a roar that made the whole airport quake.