A piece of history swooped into Winnipeg on Friday to honour the 100-year anniversary of an iconic Canadian battle.
The Nieuport 11 is a flying replica of the primary aircraft flown by Canadians in the battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917. The plane and an all-volunteer flight team are in town for a four-day exhibit at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the decisive battle in France.
"I think any time people have a comfortable life, we tend to take our benefits for granted, our freedoms, our choices," said Dale Erhart, formation lead for the flight team. "But it's important for us to realize that someone had given an ultimate sacrifice to get that freedom for us, and more importantly, their families had as well."
Erhart and his team will do a fly-over at the museum on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in biplanes, weather permitting, as part of the Birth of the Nation aircraft exhibit. They've already stopped in communities across eastern Canada, Quebec and Ontario.
"As you're flying, it's sort of like strapping on a small motorcycle," Erhart said. The open-cockpit planes are small and offer little protection compared to contemporary military planes.
Erhart said the exhibit is an extension of a project kicked off earlier this year at Vimy Ridge itself, when the crew flew over the spot to commemorate the centennial.
"My knees started to shake, the tears started to flow, and we were really shaken by the whole event knowing that there were young people up there 100 years ago in a much more dangerous condition than we had," he said.
The Nieuport 11 can be seen at the Royal Aviation Museum in Winnipeg on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with featured presentations every day at 12 p.m.