Harvards take flight in Tillsonburg
The 11th annual Wings and Wheels Family Fun Day took place in Tillsonburg
The Tillsonburg Regional Airport was busier than most weekends.
The 11th annual Wings and Wheels Family Fun Day took place at the Tillsonburg Regional Airport Saturday, with about 1,500 people taking to the airfield on a windy and cold day.
The event, run by the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association, was also staged in conjunction with the Bygone Iron Car Club of Woodstock.
Several aircraft were on display, including the club’s Mark II and Mark IV Harvards that gave about two-dozen 10 minute rides at $150 each. Two NA-64 Yales, a DH-82C Tiger Moth, two Stearmans, and a L-29 Delphin were on site while the T-28 Trojan and BAC Strikemaster ended the show by flying in formation.
The day also had about 230 classic cars on the grass for people to see while the planes soared overhead.
“It’s nice since we combine the two, and you don’t get to usually see too many planes take off at other car shows,” event co-organizer Shane Clayton said.
For the Harvard club, the day is a main fundraiser for the year, but also serves as a way to generate membership with the Second World War and 1950s-era Harvards being the mainstay of the club’s airborne fleet.
Clayton said the club has eight Harvards – five Mark IVs and three Mark IIs – with three flying and another one nearing restoration completion, hopefully in the air next year. The hangars also had Harvards in different stages of the restoration processes, while club merchandise and food was also on sale.
The Harvard was the main training plane for the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, with close to 3,000 Mark IIs being produced from 1940 to 1945. Following the end of the war, the Harvard was retired and most sold off, but the planes returned to service with the start of the Cold War, as the Mark IV was in use until 1966.
The day allows the club to showcase the historic planes and offer people a chance to see part of Canadian military history firsthand as well as promote the club to interested people.
“The fact we’re here, a lot of people go, ‘Tillsonburg has an airport?’ We’re trying to expand our membership to continue long term,” Clayton said. “Guys with old cars love to tinker with stuff and planes are the same way.
“Everyone’s a volunteer in keeping the airplanes going. Whether it’s fixing engines, selling shirts or selling rides, everything comes down to horsepower in keeping events running. It’s good to keep the public aware of the club. … We started on a whim 11 years ago and now it’s an annual tradition.”
A Mark IV Harvard completes a successful landing in Tillsonburg on Saturday at the 11th annual Wings & Wheels Family Fun Day.