The Tribute

Number 14

Fall 2015

The Chairman's Message

Contributed by our Chairman of the Board of Directors - Don Matthews

Congratulations go out to members, guides, volunteers of every stripe, and our many other supporters- we did it.  The Ken and Roma Lett Cold War Exhibit opened on time and on budget. 

We had over 100 guests on site for the grand opening.  It was a great time to say thank you to our donors: most notably Ken Lett, History and Heritage, Sprung Instant Structures, Valour Canada, The Calgary Foundation and Cenovus. Without their financial support this exhibit would not have been possible. 

First Visitors at the Grand Opening

With a few weeks of experience under our belt it is safe to say that we still have work to do but the product is super. We will continue to work on the displays for another month or so but the lights are on, the doors are open and guests are flowing in every day.  It feels great and the feedback from our guests is very,  very positive. 

They enjoy the mix of aircraft, Cold War exhibits, aircraft displays and personal stories from our guides. For many a visit to the Ken and Roma Lett Cold War Exhibit is an introduction to a part of Canadian history they know little about and for others it is a stirring trip down memory lane.

We have also made progress on adding a number of gallery guides.  Between hosts for the main building and for the Cold War Exhibit we have 33 volunteers at work.  We will continue to recruit as many of our guides head south for a few months every winter:-)  There was a call for more volunteer participation as we approached Remembrance Day. The two weeks on either side of November 11th are our busiest and we wanted as many people as possible to enjoy the Cold War Exhibit. 

That's all for now.  We are developing a first class team to maintain a first class museum.  Thank you one and all.

Cold War Exhibit Photography

Several photos and two outstanding panoramic views of the Cold War exhibit are posted on the TMM website at

If you do not use the above link and find yourself on the TMM home page, then select "What's New?" to find the Cold Weather Exhibit photography

Once a panorama is opened, click the right-most pop-up button in the lower center of the panorama image.  This opens up the image full screen.  Then you can use your mouse to navigate around the image. This photography was completed and posted by Ian Watson.


Contributed by Colin Catley

On 1 March, 1941, the 403 “Wolf Squadron” became the first R.C.A.F. squadron to be formed overseas, and soon were flying Spitfires. It served with distinction until June 1945 when the Squadron was disbanded. On October 15, 1948, the R.C.A.F. reformed the Squadron in Calgary, and it became The 403 Fighter Bomber Squadron (Auxiliary) and was located at the Municipal Airport in 1949. The R.C.A.F. designated it the “City of Calgary” Squadron 3 September 1952 and it served with the title that is still held today. It disbanded 30 June, 1964 and became the Helicopter Squadron in Gagetown, N. B. in October, 1967.

Between 1950 and 1956 – 403 (F) Squadron (Aux) became one of twelve Squadrons across Canada under Air Defense Command and flew P51 Mustangs MK4 with the Packard built Rolls Royce Merlin engines. Some of the Auxiliary Squadrons had Vampire Jets. From 1 Feb. 1952 – 29 Nov. 1953 they were led by ex-Mosquito WWII Pilot Wing Commander D. B. Freeman, DFC. Unfortunately, on that Nov. day the W/C’s plane fell out of a six plane formation and crashed southwest of Calgary. W/C  A.R. Cruikshank, an ex WWII Spitfire Pilot took over command and provided the experience and skill to lead the Squadron successfully through many Cold War exercises, including “Checkpoint” a Norad exercise at St. Hubert in 1954. Until the activation of the F-86 Sabre (displayed in the Lett Cold War exhibit) these week-end Warriors were the Air Defense of Canada. Unfortunately the price of all Cold War flying was fatalities and 403 Squadron suffered two more. On 8 July 1953 F/O  J.M. Suttle fell out of formation near Sudbury and crashed. He was returning from Summer Camp at Rockcliffe. On 6 November 1954 F/O James R. Scott, son of a prominent Military family (Calgary Highlanders C.O), crashed in the low flying area northwest of Calgary and was killed. Although promised Sabres and CF 100s, the only Jets 403 ever saw were two T33s used for training purposes.


THE NATION SOARS                      


Air Force Museum Exhibit Update  

Contributed by Gerry Morrison

Wow!! The Cold War Exhibit is open at last. On Saturday October 26th our first visitors arrived to view the Cold War Exhibit. They were impressed, as were all of the individuals who worked so hard to make this exhibit happen. I will leave it to our Chairman Don Matthews to hand out the accolades in his column for this issue of the Tribute. I hope you will visit the exhibit in the near future.

Our next major task is to complete the work on enhancing the bomb bay display located in the #6 RCAF Bomber Group exhibit. The sound system is partially installed and should be completed by the middle of October. The lighting will be installed shortly after and with a few minor adjustments we hope to have the exhibit completed prior to November 11th. Visitors will become silent participants in an air raid over enemy territory. They will experience the sounds of approaching aircraft and the warning sirens, followed by search lights attempting to locate the raiding force. The sounds of antiaircraft firing will be followed by the sound of exploding bombs as they hit the target. As the sound of the departing aircraft fades away the sirens and search lights gradually diminish. To complete the raid experience visitors will look skyward to see a load of bombs being dropped from a Lancaster bomb bay.

We also intend to add to the BCATP exhibit area by including a new display of the aircraft that the RCAF flew while training 131,000 Aircrew for the war effort. This Canadian contribution to the success of the Allies in WW2 is often referred to as our most important. 

In the longer term we are considering how to tell the story of RCAF participation in the regional conflicts that have taken place since the end of the Cold War. More detail to follow in future columns.

Finally, we are always on the lookout for volunteers, both in the TMM gallery of the Air Force Museum as well as in the Cold War Exhibit.

The Directors & Staff

Matthews, Don - Chairman of the Board of Directors

Gerwing, Michelle - Secretary

Morrison, Gerry - Past Chairman & Exhibit Chairman

Powell, Jim - Treasurer

McGillivray, Ed - Vice Chairman & Fund Raising 

Mercer, Alison - Curator
Tel: 403-410-2340 Ext 2661

Watson, Gary - Video Displays

Todd, Gordon - Membership & Newsletter Editor  

Ricketts, Michael - Director at large

Norrie, Gordon - Director at large

Norrie, Don - Researcher


408 Squadron 75th Anniversary

For further information go to:

A Nation Soars

Contributed by Bob Wade

Sound Venture Productions from Ottawa and National Geographic Magazine have initiated a project  to bring public attention to the significance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge during World War 1.  The one hundred year anniversary of the battle will be celebrated on April 09, 2017 and this project will highlight the important contribution of aviation to the successes achieved by Canadians during this critical part of the war. The project is a trilogy and the ‘Drawn to Victory’ phase (Phase one) brings attention to rhe role of aerial photography at Vimy Ridge The production of giant interactive 11 meter x 8 meter travelling floor maps have been made for schools with accompanying teacher resources.

The second phase of the project named ‘Wings of Courage’ sees the construction of two replica Sopwith Pup biplanes at the Langley, B.C. Museum of Flight. The build is underway at the present time and we hope to test fly the Pups in the summer of 2016.

Phase 3 of the project, named “Flight Path of Heroes”, brings attention to those Canadians who fought so bravely during the Battle at Vimy Ridge. The average life span of a first world war pilot was less than 16 weeks. One in four pilots in Britain’s Air Services was Canadian and 10 of the top 30 British Aces of the war were Canadian. Four Nieuport 11 replica aircraft, owned privately by ex Canadian Forces pilots, have been added to form the Vimy Squadron. Vimy Squadron takes to the skies over the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France for the service on April 09, 2017. All aircraft are then returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia to start a historic flight across Canada touching down in Canadian cities and towns and gathering unique and personal stories about extraordinary Canadian soldiers who fought and were victorious at the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Bob Wade (in cockpit of replica Nieuport 11) with Paul O'Rielly 

Sponsorship for the project has been provided in part by the Federal Government Ministry of Heritage. Funding is also being actively sought in industry and by private donation to the Langley Museum of Flight. Given sufficient funding a seventh aggressor aircraft will be added to the Squadron to enable a dog fight scenario during the cross Canada air display portion of the project. Replica aircraft are limited to the same flight performance characteristics as the actual aircraft flown in 2017. Given that the first flight in history occurred on December 17, 1903 it can be readily imagined that these replica aircraft are challenging to fly. Pilots on the project have accrued from 10,000 to 20,000 plus flying hours during their careers and have tremendous respect and admiration for the young men who climbed into these primitive machines in a combat environment with next to no flight experience.

Canadian Geographic Magazine will be running articles and pictures in their magazines as the project progresses. Sound Venture Productions will produce four one hour documentaries for television audiences. Shorter videos and promotion material will also be available as “A Nation Soars” brings attention to the significance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge to all Canadians.