Nomad aircraft recovery completed

News Article / November 21, 2014

From Royal Canadian Air Force Public Affairs

The wreckage of Northrop Nomad 3521, a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) training aircraft that crashed in Lake Muskoka, near Bracebridge, Ontario, on December 13, 1940, is back on dry land.

The actual recovery of the wreckage, a painstaking process that took about two weeks, was the culmination of efforts that began in July 2010 when Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) personnel discovered the Second World War-era aircraft on the bottom of the lake.

In October 2012, members of Royal Canadian Navy Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) recovered the remains of Nomad 3521’s crew, Lieutenant Peter Campbell, of the Royal Air Force, and Leading Aircraftsman Theodore (Ted) Bates, a member of the RCAF. Their remains were interred a year later with full military honours at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Guelph, Ontario.

Northrop Nomads were used as training aircraft under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which saw young men from Commonwealth nations the world over arrive in Canada to train with the RCAF. Lieutenant Campbell and Leading Aircraftsman Bates, both members of 1 Service Flying Training School at Camp Borden (now 16 Wing Borden) were searching for a missing aircraft when their Nomad and another, also involved in the search, collided over Lake Muskoka. The second Nomad and the remains of its crew were recovered soon after the collision.

Parry Sound-Muskoka Member of Parliament Tony Clement attended a Community Culmination Ceremony held November 3, 2014, on the shore of Lake Muskoka to acknowledge everyone involved in both the discovery and recovery of the wreckage, and to honour Lieutenant Campbell and Leading Aircraftsman Bates.

“I commend the unwavering dedication of those behind the Lost Airmen in Muskoka Project (LAMP), the Royal Canadian Navy’s Fleet Diving Unit, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the OPP who have all worked together to honour these lost airmen, and highlight this important part of Muskoka’s and our nation’s history,” Mr. Clement said. “There are many others, too, who helped keep this project alive and deserve credit, not the least of which are the people of Muskoka, whose interest and support never wavered.”

The recovery operation was led by the RCAF, partnered with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Directorate of History and Heritage at the Department of National Defence, the Ontario Provincial Police Bracebridge Detachment, the National Air Force Museum of Canada, located in Trenton, Ontario, and the Canadian Coast guard. Notable support also came from the towns of Gravenhurst and Bracebridge.

The wreckage, which remained the property and responsibility of the RCAF until the full recovery was achieved, was transported to 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario on November 4, 2014, and officially handed over to the National Air Force Museum of Canada, located at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario. 8 Wing’s Aerospace and Telecommunications Engineering Support Squadron will begin work on the wreckage by cleaning and acclimating it.

It may be five or six years before the aircraft goes on display at the museum, according to museum curator Kevin Windsor. “We have a lot of cleaning to do on it,” he told 8 Wing Trenton’s The Contact newspaper.

Museum personnel will assess the structural soundness of the wreckage and that will determine its future.

“We have basically two scenarios,” Mr. Windsor continued. “We could have a full restoration like the Halifax [bomber that is on display at the museum], or the other is to display it as a crashed aircraft at the bottom of Lake Muskoka. We’ve put both of them out there and we’ll do some cost estimates to see which one will have the least impact (financially) on the museum, and how best to use the manpower available to us.”

Mr. Windsor said that the Nomad is a unique and historically significant aircraft. “It is the only one in Canada and only the second in the world.”

With files from The Contact newspaper.

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