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Event of the Week: Aero Space Museum of Calgary Annual Aviation Expo

By Lance October 30, 2012

SAIT Polytechnic-Art Smith Aero Centre Sponsored Event            

This August, the Aero Space Museum of Calgary organized an aviation expo on the 25th and 26th. The museum worked in partnership with the SAIT Polytechnic-Art Smith Aero Centre to put together the expo. This year the B-17 Sentimental Journey, P-51 Mustang, and Stearman planes were on display.

The B-17 Sentimental Journey was built in 1944 and began its service for the military in March 1945. The aircraft was assigned to the Pacific theater until the end of World War II and was used as photo-mapping plane. The aircraft received its name “the local media to name the aircraft, which resulted in more than 800 entries, and the ultimate selection of the name Sentimental Journey.” After permission was granted by widower Harry James, a tantalizing picture of Betty Grable was painted on the nose of the aircraft, which was the most famous pinup picture of World War II.  On January 14, 1978, at a membership banquet for the newly formed Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, Colonel Mike Clarke announced the donation of the aircraft to the CAF for assignment to the Arizona Wing.

The P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during many war and conflicts. “During World War II,Mustang pilots claimed 4,950 enemy aircraft shot down. The P-51 was also in service with Allied air forces in the North African, Mediterranean and Italian theatres, and saw limited service against the Japanese in the Pacific War. The aircraft was also used as the main fighter of the United Nations until jet fighters such as the F-86 took over this role; the Mustang then became a specialized fighter-bomber during the start of the Korean War. After the Korean War, the P-51 Mustangs were converted for civilian use, such as air racing.

The Stearman is military training biplane built during the 1930’s and 40’s. “It served a primary trainer for the USAAF, the USN (as the NS & N2S), and with the RCAF as the Kaydet throughout World War II.” After the war, thousands of the aircrafts were sold to civilians. The aircrafts are used crop dusters, sports planes, and in air shows.

Willa Wu, the office administrator for the museum, explained that organizing a special event like this for the museum is often met with some frustrations, but is wholly satisfying. The Aero Space Museum of Calgary advertised the event on the museum website, Facebook and Twitter and sold tickets on the website Eventbrite. Willa also said that they used a, “Bridge banner and the community newspaper around Calgary worked great. Radio and TV were also effective.”

Willa also explained that there was a YouTube video of the event that can be found here.