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Vintage Wings of Canada


DHC-1 Chipmunk

The de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk is a tandem, two-seat, single-engined primary trainer aircraft designed and developed by Canadian aircraft manufacturer de Havilland Canada. It was developed shortly after the Second World War and sold in large numbers during the immediate post-war years, being typically employed as a replacement for the de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane.The Chipmunk was the first postwar aviation project conducted by de Havilland Canada. It performed its maiden flight on 22 May 1946 and was introduced to operational service that same year. During the late 1940s and 1950s, the Chipmunk was procured in large numbers by military air services such as the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal Air Force (RAF), and several other nations' air forces, where it was often utilised as their standard primary trainer aircraft. The type produced under licence by de Havilland in the United Kingdom, who would produce the vast majority of Chipmunks, as well as by OGMA (Oficinas Gerais de Material Aeronáutico) in Portugal.

Many Chipmunks that had been in military use were sold to civilians, either to private owners or to companies, where they were typically used for a variety of purposes, often involving the type's excellent flying characteristics and its capability for aerobatic manoeuvres. More than 70 years after the type having first entered service, hundreds of Chipmunks remain airworthy and are in operation around the world.



The Vintage Wings of Canada Fairchild Cornell (10712) was built by the Fleet Aircraft Company of Canada, one of 1642 Cornells constructed under license, and they were designated either as PT-23s or PT-26s. As the Second World War advanced, the RCAF needed a more advanced trainer for the BCATP. The existing DH 82C Tiger Moths and Fleet 16B’s used for elementary flying training proved to be a significant step down from contemporary service aircraft. In the spring of 1941, the RCAF therefore decided on a development of the Fairchild Aircraft (US) Company’s PT-19 trainer design. The RCAF version was to feature an enclosed cockpit, an improved heating system, equipment changes along with a Ranger piston engine. This modified version was to be known as the Fairchild Cornell in Canada and it rapidly entered production and found favour at elementary flying schools beginning in 1943.


Cornell 10712 was one of five bought from war surplus at Windsor Mills, Quebec by Paul Durand and his eldest son Bob in 1955. The price paid by the Durands that day ranged from $150.00 to $300.00

Fleet Finch

Fleet Finch

The Fleet Finch (Fleet Model 16) is a two-seat, tandem training biplane produced by Fleet Aircraft of Fort Erie, Ontario. There were a number of variants mainly based on engine variations. Over several years beginning in 1939, a total of 447 Finches were built, nearly all (431) of them for use as elementary trainers in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) during the Second World War.

The Finch was a mainstay of the RCAF prior to and during the early part of the Second World War, flying at the Elementary Flying Training Schools (EFTS) in parallel with the better known de Havilland Tiger Moth, also produced in Canada. The earlier Fleet Model 7 (Fleet Fawn) was also in use for primary training. During 1940, initial production problems were solved and timely deliveries were made to the RCAF, allowing the first training programs to start up. In the following year, the Portuguese Navy purchased ten Model 16Ds (ordered as 10Bs but changed to the higher powered variant) and later a further five 16Ds were delivered in 1942.

A total of 606 Fleet Finches were produced as Model 16s, the majority for the RCAF. They were used as initial trainers in the BCATP at no fewer than 12 Elementary Flight Training Schools across Canada. Both the Fleet Finch and Tiger Moth were later replaced by the Fairchild PT-26 Cornell. The Finch was progressively phased out of service from October 1944 with the last of the Model 16s struck off strength from the RCAF inventory in 1947.



The Harvard is recognized as the greatest advanced training aircraft of the war. With its near fighter-like size and handling, the Harvard was the bridge between primary trainers such as the Tiger Moth and the high performance fighters of the day such as the Spitfire or Hurricane. Nearly 50,000 Allied pilots received their wings after qualifying on the Harvard at air training bases across the breadth of Canada as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) - the “Aerodrome of Democracy”. Somewhat forgiving to fly, the Harvard was an able trainer, but had just enough quirks and vices to keep students on their toes.

The High Flight Harvard is painted in the unique markings of a Harvard known to have been flown by Anglo-American Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee when he was in Service Flying Training at No. 2 SFTS Uplands in Ottawa. Magee is the iconic poet who penned High Flight, the iconic poem about flight in a heavier than air craft. High Flight is a requested reading at many an aviator's funeral and was read by President Ronald Reagan at the memorial for the crew of the Challenger Shuttle disaster.

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