Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum: Win a convertible; help restore Bolingbroke Bomber

If Santa didn’t leave a convertible under the tree, there’s still a chance to win one through the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s (CWHM) Bolingbroke Bomber Restoration Project’s fundraising raffle.

“We have a 2012 Mustang convertible, fully loaded with all the options and a V6 engine,” said Wayne Ready, coordinator on the restoration project for the Boly, as it’s fondly called by the crew of volunteers working to bring the aircraft back to its former glory.  The CWHM in Mount Hope is known as Canada’s flying museum; this piece will be an exceptional addition to the collection.  “Once it’s completed, this will be the only Bristol Bolingbroke Bomber to be flying in the world,” said Ready. The project is a restoration, using original parts wherever possible to rebuild the aircraft.

“There are very few Bolys left in the world. We estimate there are about 18 known at this time; they remain in static exhibits or in storage in various areas in North America,” said Ready. Built by Fairchild Aircraft Ltd. (Canada) in Longueuil, Quebec, the Bolingbroke was a variant of Britain’s Bristol Blenheim Bomber; there were fewer than 700 Bolingbrokes built.  In 1939, the IODE (Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire) went on a fundraising campaign across Canada, and in about four months, had raised over $100,000 to pay for a Boly to be built to assist in the war effort.  “The IODE came on board with us in 1988; when they found out we had a Boly, they were interested in the project, and have been providing us with as much financial support as they can every year since. They’re one of the main reasons we’re at the place we are now,” said Ready.

The CWHM’s Boly will be dedicated on July 15, 2015. “That will be 75 years to the day that the aircraft rolled into service,” said Ready, noting that there will be a woman at the ceremony in 2015 who was a young girl at the original dedication ceremony.  When the Boly is dedicated, there will also be a special plaque in the plane with a list of the names of all the volunteers who have worked on the project.  “It will be in there forever,” said Ready. “The hard part is, we’ve had a few who started on the crew who didn’t live long enough to see it finished.” The restoration project began in 1986.

The project took a major jump forward about a year ago.

“On December 29, 2010, we removed the centre section from the jig and brought it over to assemble it as you can see today. The first time it was on wheels since 1940 was when we rolled it out for the [Father’s Day weekend] air show [in 2011]. The next time we roll it out will be for it to fly,” said Ready.

“We need funds to meet the anniversary date,” he said. The next major component of the project is the engines and propellers.

The cost of rebuilding each engine is in the range of $85,000 to $90,000; each engine includes three blades and a hub; these cost approximately $35,000 each to rebuild and be certified.

“The cost of the rebuilds don’t include accessories like carburetors, starters, alternators,” said Ready, noting that accessories will cost an additional $20,000 to $25,000.

“Then, we have to get the instruments in the cockpit, and the rest of the aircraft needs to be recertified. That’s estimated at another $15,000. Then we need radios. We can’t use the originals, because they only have two channels, and that doesn’t work to fly in airspace today.”

Ready noted that in addition to all of these costs, the plane would still need to be painted.

“To paint it camouflage, we need to paint it three colours: black, green and brown. That’s estimated to cost us up to $20,000.”

“It starts to add up fast,” said Ready. “The bottom line is, to have this aircraft fly, from this point on, we’re going to need another $400,000.”

To date, the cash that has gone into the project is approximately $300,000; gifts in kind, ranging from donated materials to services, constitutes an additional $300,000, approximately. The value of the hours of volunteer time that has gone into the project is equally astounding.

“Just to do the centre section of the plane, it took about 38,600 volunteer man-hours. This took us 16 years to do, due to major structural defects and getting materials needed and to be certified. This did not include restoring the cockpit, fuselage, landing gear, fuel tanks, etc.,” said Ready.

The funds raised from the raffle will go towards the two engines the plane needs, as well as two sets of propellers, all of which needs to be rebuilt at an approve aircraft rebuilding shop.

“Through a negotiation with various people and the Ford Motor Company, we were privileged to receive the convertible for our purposes to raise money for the project,” said Ready.

There are actually three prizes up for grabs in the raffle. First prize is the Mustang; second is a flight in the Lancaster and a one-year membership at the CWHM; third place is a flight in any of the primary trainers, like the Harvard or the Steerman, and a one-year membership at the CWHM.

“We printed 10,000 tickets; they cost $20 each, and all of the money raised will go to the completion of the Boly,” said Ready.

Raffle tickets can be purchased by calling the CWHM at 905-679-4183, online at www.warplane,com, or at the CWHM’s front desk.

The draw will take place on January 14, 2012.

“People have helped us because they truly believe in what we’re doing,” said Ready. “We’re preserving aviation history so people today and in the future will have a first-hand visual of flying aircraft of the era, and also, so they will remember those who paid the price for our freedom.


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