Har­vards fly on Re­mem­brance Day

Three of the his­toric air­craft flew over Toronto cer­e­mony

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - NEWS - CHRIS AB­BOTT

Three his­toric Har­vard air­craft from Ox­ford County flew above Toronto’s Old City Hall on Nov. 11 as part of that city’s an­nual Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­mony.

Bjarni Tryg­gva­son, a for­mer Cana­dian as­tro­naut and pres­i­dent of the all-vol­un­teer Cana­dian Har­vard Air­craft As­so­ci­a­tion, led the three-plane for­ma­tion leav­ing Till­son­burg about 10:15 a.m. Satur­day with fel­low CHAA pi­lots Scott McMaster and Percy Con­trac­tor at a speed of about 120 knots (222 kilo­me­tres per hour).

“It was chilly, but nowhere near as cold as these planes were de­signed to take,” said Tryg­gva­son. “On the ground get­ting ready, it’s chilly, but just dress for it. It’s fine. the air­plane has a heater in it. These planes were used to train - through the war and af­ter the war - all year round in the Prairies. If the tem­per­a­ture is cold, pre­heat the air­planes. The planes we used were in­side a heated hangar overnight.”

Af­ter the Old City Hall trib­ute, the Har­vards flew over the East York Civic Cen­tre on Coxwell Av­enue, past the Veteran’s Wing at Sun­ny­brook Hos­pi­tal on Bayview Av­enue, and over IBEW Lo­cal 353 on Lawrence Av­enue East be­fore re­turn­ing to Till­son­burg at about 12 p.m., con­tin­u­ing a CHAA tra­di­tion that goes back about two decades.

“The planes ac­tu­ally fly bet­ter in the cold,” said CHAA chief tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer Shane Clay­ton. “A lot denser air … they fly great. They were mod­i­fied from the orig­i­nals for win­ter op­er­a­tions. They were fine in Texas, but up here in the mid­dle of Fe­bru­ary … you pre-heat the oil within a half-hour or so of the flight.”

“If you get it prop­erly pre­heated, it’ll purr like a kit­ten. They flew them 50 hours a month, year round. We could do flights here (af­ter Nov. 11), but usu­ally they’re down for the win­ter. We do main­te­nance, in­spec­tions, and cos­metic stuff.”

Con­trac­tor, a CHAA pilot from Toronto, com­mutes to Till­son­burg dur­ing the sum­mer months to fly Har­vards.

“Usu­ally the or­ga­ni­za­tion op­er­ates every Satur­day from the end of March un­til Re­mem­brance Day,” said Con­trac­tor, who started flying Har­vards in 2009.

The flight to Toronto was Con­trac­tor’s fourth or fifth Re­mem­brance Day trip.

“Each flight in and of it­self is spe­cial, whether it’s 20 peo­ple or 20,000 peo­ple. It de­pends on the cer­e­mony - some­times we do a fly past over a fu­neral and it’s ob­vi­ously very spe­cial for the peo­ple there. Some­times we’ll do a fly past over a fall fair or the open­ing of a mu­seum. Each of them are spe­cial in their own way, but this one to­day, Re­mem­brance Day, I would say does have a lit­tle more sig­nif­i­cance.

“It’s ev­ery­body in the coun­try, in their own time zones, com­mem­o­rat­ing the event. And of course, it’s a very great priv­i­lege, not just for us but for ev­ery­body here, to ac­tu­ally fly over the big­gest city in Canada.

The whole trip, from wheels up to wheels down, lasted just over one hour and 45 min­utes, said Con­trac­tor.

“That’s typ­i­cal. I’d say maybe a lit­tle on the shorter side. Some­times it’s 1:55, it’s al­ways around there. You want to be there a lit­tle bit early so you have time to or­bit.”


Four Har­vard air­craft fly over the Wood­stock Ceno­taph on Satur­day, Nov. 11, dur­ing the lo­cal Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­mony.

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