The Tribute

Number 5

Summer 2012

Annual General Meeting

The Air Force Museum Society Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on 31 May 2012 in the theatre at the Military Museums site. Twenty one members and two guests were in attendance. The acting Chairman Don Matthews presented his yearly report which follows in its entirety.

Chairman's 2012 AGM Report

The past year has been one of great accomplishment on several levels. We have met the goals we set for ourselves and the volunteers have excelled in both their skills and their dedication. We were sad to see John and Bev Melbourne step down as Chair and Secretary respectively. However, we respect their decision and wish them well in their future endeavours. As a small but meaningful token of our appreciation they have both been awarded life time memberships to the Society.

The exhibit committee under the masterful leadership of Gerry Morrison, has been successful in gathering the right group of military staff, museum staff and volunteers, plus consultants and engineers to bring clarity to the architectural and engineering challenges that have to be overcome to allow us to use the patio area as an enclosed space to display the CF-18. As we noted in last year’s report the RCAF has bestowed upon us the 2009 Centennial of Flight Demo Bird and the staff at 4 Wing Cold Lake will ensure that it arrives here in display status. Our challenge now is to get the patio area enclosed so that it becomes a high quality annex to the Museum. Another exciting story for the Museum is that we also have a CF-104 to house alongside the CF-18. Compliments of a large gift to the Society from Ken Lett we have been able to go out and purchase a Starfighter to display alongside our Hornet.

Our new website at is up and running. Not only is it a first class website with a virtual tour and video gallery it is also becoming the place that we do our business. Folks may now pay their annual membership fees on line and donations as well as payments for things like the golf tournament may also be accomplished on line. Gord Todd has volunteered to take over the membership and newsletter duties and these as well are managed on line on the inside of the web site that is referred to as the content management system. We have come a long way in keeping the Museum abreast of the latest and best in on-line capability. As well as our web site, Gary Watson has been very active keeping our Facebook page ( up to date. It is exciting to know that people of all ages from around the globe are aware of our Museum and the great stories of the RCAF that are being told.

The Air Force Museum, under the direction of Jim Powell, has taken on the responsibility of running the gift shop. Audrey, Penny, Loretta and others have also been very active here and we thank them for taking the gift shop to the next level, a venture by the way that benefits all the museums of TMM.

May 3rd was the official opening of our Royal Flying Corps display. It marked the 100th anniversary of RFC start up in the United Kingdom. Thank you and compliments to the members of the RFC committee and especially to Alison Mercer who as our curator took on the majority of the taskings to get the multi-media display in place on time.

Last year’s golf tournament was a success in that everyone had a great day. As well we raised 11 thousand dollars to help cover the day to day operating costs of the Museum. We look forward to another great day on the links on 19 July. If you haven’t signed up yet please do so on line at or via email to

What do we have planned for the rest of this year and into next? Lots and the good news is that we have the funds to act on these projects now. The list includes:

● completion of the Lancaster bomb bay display,

● updates to the air transport area,

● new exhibits on squadron histories and service decorations,

● CF-5 Freedom Fighter painting in a new camouflage scheme to enhance preservation

● Creation of 5 videos to display the history of the RCAF in our theatres

● Purchase and program portable audio devices for the French language tour of the Museum

● Start work on audio visual requirements for the new annex

● Start work on signs and panels for the new annex

As we get near to the bottom line of this report let’s get to the bottom line of the Museum, namely money. Jim Powell does a great job as our treasurer and I think everyone should be aware of the all the hours he spends keeping our financial records complete and up to date. The excellent news is that we are in a favourable financial position as we start our fundraising to build the new annex to hangar our aircraft.

We have received grants and donations that will ensure that our artefacts and displays will always be of the highest quality. On the side of the ledger labelled operating costs we need to continue to be diligent to ensure that we cover annual operating costs through such ventures as casinos and golf tournaments. After three years of operation we have every reason to believe that continued diligence on the part of the Society and continued support from DND and our donors will allow us to move ahead smartly - as one would expect of the RCAF.

In closing please let me acknowledge and thank the volunteers who make the Museum run. We only have one staff member, our curator Alison, and she does a wonderful job. We also depend heavily on the staff at The Military Museums and are very thankful for all they do to help us at the Air Force Museum. However, the staff cannot do it alone and it is the volunteer’s contribution that is essential for the Museum to succeed. It is also a treat to walk into our Museum and be greeted by the wonderful group of cheerful hosts who are eager to show guests around the Museum.

Whether you serve on the Board, as a host, as an occasional volunteer or as a member who wants to see the Museum progress and excel. Thank you. It is your Museum and your hard work and dedication are being rewarded daily as we continue to tell the stories of our RCAF and its truly great contribution to Canada.  

Donating to the Air Force Museum Society of Alberta

Contributed by Ed McGillivray

As most people are aware, we have a fine Air Force Museum at the Military Museums site on Crowchild Trail in Calgary. The AFMSA is continuously upgrading exhibits and developing new projects to keep our Air Force Museum current and viable - and we need financial support to ensure our facility remains one of the best Air Force Museums in Canada.

There are several tax-efficient ways a donor can financially support the Air Force Museum - or more properly, the AFMSA, which is the administrative arm of the Museum.  One can donate cash and/or publicly traded shares directly to the AFMSA at 4520 Crowchild Trail SW, Calgary, AB T2T 5J4 or to the Calgary Foundation (in the name of the AFMSA) at #700, 999-8th St SW, Calgary, AB T2R 1J5.  The difference between the two is very simple: funds donated directly to AFMSA can and will be used for operations, and funds donated to the Calgary Foundation will be kept as an endowment from which the AFMSA receives a yearly dividend.  Of course, both types of donations will receive a charitable tax receipt to reduce an individual's federal and provincial taxes.

A more tax efficient method to support the AFMSA is the donation of publicly traded shares - especially if said shares have a large capital gain.  The tax department doesn't factor in the capital gain for the donated shares and individuals get full credit for the market price of the shares at the time they are donated.  For example, if a person paid $5 for a share in 2005 and the share price is now $20, a tax receipt for $20 a share is given.  Conversely, if the share is cashed in prior to the donation and the money is then donated to the AFMSA, capital gains on the $15 difference would have to be paid by the donating individual. A tax receipt for the $20 would still be given in both cases; however, it makes practical sense to just donate the shares directly and let the receiving organizations sell the shares - and not pay the capital gains tax.

If you have any questions with regard to AFMSA donations, please call Ed McGillivray @ 403-279-6734 or email           








Exibit Report - Looking Ahead 

Contributed by Gerry Morrison

There are a number of exciting things happening at the Air Force Museum. Much of it still in the planning stage, however, some pieces of the plan are in place and a significant fund raising campaign will be necessary to bring it all together.

The Air Force Museum is going to expand our exhibit space from the current 4,000 square feet to slightly over 10,000 square feet by constructing an addition to The Military Museums. The initial proposal has been approved by The TMM Council and a consultant has determined that the selected area is capable of supporting the new construction. In the very near future we will know the rough cost of the structure and be in a position to commence fund raising. To this end the Air Force Museum has already received grants and donations of nearly $300,000 for the project.

The new structure will be designed to protect and display two exceptional artefacts which played and continue to play important roles in the history of Canada’s Air Force. A CF-104 Starfighter from the Cold War era and the Centennial CF-18 Hornet which was part of the Air Force’s participation celebrating the Centennial of Flight in Canada in 2009 are coming to Calgary. Hornet aircraft are still operated by the RCAF and recently participated in the air campaign over Libya. The Centennial CF-18 is presently at 4 Wing Cold Lake waiting to be restored to static display condition and for delivery to the museum when the structure is finished. The CF-104, which was stationed in Europe until 1972, and then sold to the Royal Danish Air Force is currently in the US and will be returned to Canada in the near future. This aircraft will require some restoration work to return it to display status.

The Air Force Museum is excited about our future and we hope this quick look into it will stir your interest. We will update the story as we move forward with this project which will enhance our ability to tell the story of Canada’s Air Force.

Aviation in History

Uncommon Gallantry

Contributed by Don Norrie

A white granite boulder resting near the bottom of Simon’s Valley  at the junction of Range Road 25 and Big Hill Springs Road east of Airdrie, is a monument to the outstanding bravery of a 19 year old airman, and a local schoolteacher, Frances Walsh who tried to save his life.

LAC Karl Mander Gravell, GC, was posthumously awarded the George Cross the highest British (and Commonwealth) award for bravery out of combat. The decoration was awarded for the heroism he showed on the 10 November 1941 near Calgary, Alberta.

LAC Gravell was on a training flight when the Tiger Moth aircraft he was flying in suffered mechanical failure and crashed in flames. Gravell managed to get clear but despite his serious injuries - he had lost an eye and was badly burned - he dived back into the inferno with his own clothes still on fire in a vain effort to rescue the pilot. He was pulled from the wreckage but later died from his grievous burns.

Born in Sweden in 1922, he moved to Canada with his family in 1937 and became a naturalized Canadian citizen in July of that year. The aspiring air gunner had joined the Royal Canadian Air Force on 15 March 1941 from his adopted home town of Vancouver. After completing his depot training, he had been posted to No. 2 Wireless School in Calgary.

The following citation was published in the London Gazette on the 11 June 1942:

"In November, 1941, a training aircraft crashed and immediately burst into flames. Leading Aircraftman Gravell, who was under training as a wireless air gunner, managed to extricate himself from the wreckage and get clear. In spite of the intense shock caused by the loss of one eye and severe burns, suffered at the time of the crash, Leading Aircraftman Gravell's first and only thought was for the welfare of his pilot. The pilot was still in the aircraft and Gravell ignoring his own serious injuries and the fact that his clothes were ablaze attempted to get back to the flaming wreckage to pull him clear. He had barely reached the aircraft when he was dragged away and rolled on the ground to extinguish the flames which had, by this time, completely enveloped his clothing. Leading Aircraftman Gravell subsequently died from his burns. Had he not considered his pilot before his own safety and had he immediately proceeded to extinguish the flames on his own clothing, he would probably not have lost his life."

It was Mrs. Frances Walsh who pulled Gravell away from the flaming wreckage and rolled him on the ground in an attempt to save his life. For bravery and quick thinking at the accident site, Frances Walsh. was awarded the George Medal


The Directors & Staff

Matthews, Don - Chairman of the Board of Directors

Gerwing, Michelle - Secretary

Morrison, Gerry - Past Chairman & Exhibit Chairman

Nixon, Kenn - Casino

Powell, Jim - Treasurer.

McGillivray, Ed - Fund Raising & Golf Tournament.

Mercer, Alison - Curator
Tel: 403-249-8818

Watson, Dave - Host Scheduling & Tours

Watson, Gary - Video Displays & Golf Tournament

Dhillon, Vlad - Public Relations

Todd, Gordon - Membership Chairman & Newslletter Editor  
 Ricketts, Michael - Director at large  


The Third Annual Air Force Museum Society Golf Tournament

Contributed by Gary Watson

The Calgary Police paid a visit to this year’s golf tournament July 19th at the Silverwing Links golf course. Luckily it was not to arrest anyone but to show off HAWCS2, one of their Eurocopter EC120 helicopters, flown by pilot Darrell Day with Tactical Flight Officer Constable Jay Odland. The CPS Air Services patrol helicopter was on static display prior to the tournament and provided a unique visual and audible signal to start the tournament. The helicopter appearance was in support of a ride-along-certificate for an actual operational flight. This certificate was auctioned in a live aution during dinner. The 72 golfers enjoyed a day of fine weather in a shotgun scramble tournament. Piper Ken McTavish, called the golfers to their carts and provided music prior to dinner. A number of skill prizes were awarded but unfortunately no one won the 2012 Lexus Hole-In-One car but all had a great day of golf.

                                                    Ken McTavish and the HAWCS Helicopter

Dinner was in the new banquet building and a number of draw prizes, silent and live auction items were acquired by the golfers. Hall of Fame Cowboy, David Shields Sr., fresh from acting as the arena boss at the Calgary Stampede was the auctioneer and warmed up the crowd with some smaller prizes before auctioning off a ride in a Chinese aircraft, the HAWCS ride-along and a chance to fly a WestJet B737 full visual and motion flight simulator.

First place was the team of Gord Todd, Jeff Todd, Andre Dumont and Rob McGillivary

Second place was a tie between Matthew Potts, Andrew Naylor, Hugo Potts, Tom Zuorro and the team of Lorna Gutsche, Bill Gutsche, Scott Woodruff and George Goulet.

The putting contest was won by Jim Kulak

All money raised, after paying the tournament costs is  used by the museum society to help pay for daily operational costs and acquiring more artifacts.