Piece of Calgary's aviation history may literally fall apart

A piece of Calgary's aviation history — a CF-100 Canuck — is in danger of literally falling apart outside a northeast air museum.

Museum appealing for help to save city-owned CF-100 Canuck before it's too late

Gord Lowe, a board members at the Hangar Flight Museum says the first priority is to get the plane out of the elements. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

It could be an ignominious end for a Canadian veteran of the Cold War that sits outside an air museum in northeast Calgary.

The CF-100 Canuck is among the few artifacts the Hangar Flight Museum stores outside because there isn't enough room indoors. 

It's calling on the city to help it save the aging former RCAF jet.

The City of Calgary owns the 1950s twin-engine plane. The black-coloured aircraft has been stored outside since the 1960s.

Officials with the museum pressed city council earlier this month to help them save the aircraft. 

The chairman of the museum's board of directors, Jim Williams, told a council committee unless something is done soon, he fears the plane's wings may fall off or its landing gear may collapse.

Elements taking a toll

An examination of the aircraft shows paint peeling away, hanging wires and many of its surfaces covered with bird droppings.

Board member Gord Lowe tells CBC News the first priority is to get the plane out of the elements.

"Weather is hard on aircraft being stored outside and it's deteriorating. We understand that," said Lowe.

Bird droppings are seen on the wing of a CF-100 Canuck. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

Officials from the museum met with city officials this week to talk about options for saving the Canuck.

"We're concerned. We're deeply concerned about it," said Lowe.

"The city's aware of it and they share our concern." 

Get it indoors to start

Lowe said in an ideal world, the plane should be moved indoors so it can be restored.

However, that work could take years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

For now, he said they'd like to move it indoors, either as-is or disassemble it in order to get it out of the elements.

Damage is evident on the wing of a CF-100 Canuck outside the Hangar Flight Museum in northeast Calgary. (Scott Dippel)

There's no word yet on what the plan might be to preserve the jet.

It is a historically significant artifact.

Lowe said it's one of two fighter aircraft that were wholly designed and built in Canada. 

"Many veterans flew on, worked on, or were involved with this aircraft. It has a long history throughout the Cold War, so it's important I think that we retain and maintain the asset," said Lowe.

Canucks played a key role for RCAF

The Royal Canadian Air Force had nearly 700 Avro CF-100s in service. 

The twin-engine, all-weather interceptor was used in frontline service to defend Canada and Europe in the 1950s and 1960s.

Although it came into service during the early years of the Cold War, Canada continued using the Canuck in a variety of roles until the early 1980s.

Calgary's Canuck is believed to be one of the oldest surviving examples in the world. 

A local air force veterans' group acquired it in 1963 and donated it to the city.

It sat outside the planetarium downtown before eventually being moved to the air museum in the northeast where it has been on static display.


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