The National Air Force Museum of Canada’s renovation is well underway.
The three-phase, $8.5 million project is now in Phase Two, which began in February. Phase Two involves the final pouring of concrete flooring, and drywall installation.
Chris Colton, Executive Director, says with an estimated 36,000 artefacts still in storage, the extra space is much needed.
“We will be able to display thousands and thousands of artefacts. We have a storage space in Trenton and one in Belleville filled with artefacts.”
Currently, half of the funds needed for Phase Two have been collected, but with three quarters of the phase complete, the museum is in the red. Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret’d) Colton says $4 million needs to be raised to meet the final building deadline of January 2010.
There will be a break between Phase Two and Phase Three for the museum to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first powered flight in Canada in the summer of 2009.
LCol (Ret’d) Colton adds that during this time, the final fundraising efforts for the building project will be underway, to bring in money for updating displays.
On top of the renovation, the museum is also focusing on restoration.
In the machine shop at the back of the museum, volunteers are restoring two 1942 planes. One, an Avro Anson, was found in a field in Alberta, and was originally used for training during World War II. The body of the Anson is half wood, and it’s the largest wooden project the museum has taken on. The other, a Harvard, was a pilot trainer and was used at CFB Trenton after WWII.
Lcol (Ret’d) Colton is looking for more volunteers to help out while the museum is renovating. He says there are at least 80 different jobs a volunteer could do at the museum, from cutting grass or leading tours, to restoring planes.
“Volunteer to me means someone who can come in a couple of hours a week,” Colton explains, “Just two or three hours, that’s all we ask.” With a smirk Colton adds, “The average age back here [in the machine shop] is 72; we’d love to see some younger people. You know, people in their 60s.”
When finished, the addition to the museum will bump up space from 19,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet. A total of 28 planes will be on display, including the world’s only fully restored NA 337 Halifax. “We want to tell the whole story,” Colton says, “The whole history of Canadian aviation.”