The Great War Flying Museum, operated by the Ontario Aviation Historical Society, is a not-for-profit volunteer member organization and is registered and authorized to issue tax receipts to all donors.
The GWFM was founded in 1970 by a group of Brampton Flying Club members. All of the founders were pilot’s mostly private pilots and several airline pilots. We don’t know exactly why these gentlemen dedicated themselves to such a large and serious task except to say that they all absolutely loved aeroplanes.
The first aircraft was purchased from a well known amateur aircraft builder, Mr. Gogi Goguillot who lived in Langley, BC. This was a 0.85 scale British SE 5A. It was dismantled and shipped to us by truck. We still fly this aircraft. It is very popular and is the first challenge for each new pilot as they come on-stream. This is the only aircraft which is not full scale. All subsequent replicas are full scale and built from original blue prints in our hangar.
The materials and engines which we use are, of course, not the same as would be used in WWI but if you stand back and view our machines you will recognize that they are very close to the original physical design.
The originals used linen as a skin for wings, control surfaces and fuselage. We use a modern WWII product known as ceconite which is much stronger and with modern paint and dope will stand up for many years against the intense sun. Linen has a short life in sun but that was not a problem during WWI when an aircraft usually crashed or was shot down within ten or so missions.
Our wood, glue, steel and welding is much better in all respects so the finished airframe is much more rugged and safe.
As for engines there are plenty of WWII engines to choose from and most parts may be sourced easily on the internet. The Russians still build very good radial engines and we have one of these. It might surprise you to know that WWII Canadian military tanks used large radial engines and we use these also. The first tank engine actually fired and started in less than a minute after having been ”moth balled” for 51 years. It had one hour of factory test time on it confirmed by its own built-in ”run clock”.
The WWI aircraft did not have brakes because that would add weight and cause maintenance problems. They simply pointed the aircraft into wind on a grass field, poured the throttle to it and took off. Landing without brakes was not a problem because they had lots of field to use up and their tail skid helped to slow them down.
Instrumentation in WWI was very minimal but since we take part in airshows and fly in a modern aeronautical environment we must meet strict regulations for instrumentation, communication, navigation, emergency location devices, transponders, fire extinguishers, etc. It’s a very regulated, demanding and expensive hobby but we love it.
Our fleet now consists of the following:
– One 85% scale British SE5A
– One Sopwith 1-1/2 Strutter – 2 place — machine gunner facing rear – the pride of our fleet
– One Nieuport 28 — our fastest replica
– One Fokker D.VII — a favorite at airshows, currently under reconstruction
– One Fokker Dr.I Triplanes — in the colors and markings of the famous and dreaded Baron Manfred von Richthofen
– One full scale British SESA
We have a Sopwith Camel and an Airco DH.2 under construction.
The GWFM opens on the Victoria Day long weekend in May and closes in mid Sept. following our grand annual Fly-In and air display. Everyone is welcome, weekends, holidays throughout our season. Bring your cameras, children and grandparents.