The Booming '60s (1960 - 1969)
From 1960 to 1969, domestic and international air carriers such as Trans Canada Airlines, Pacific Western and Canadian Pacific Airlines began to dominate the scene. There is a restored former Trans Canada Airlines/Air Canada Vickers Viscount aircraft on display at the BC Aviation Museum. As well, local aerospace industries such as Fairey Aviation, Vancouver Island Helicopters, Victoria Air Maintenance Ltd. and a few courier companies began to establish thriving businesses at British Columbia airports. In the ever-increasing battle against forest fires, the BC Forest Service built several air tanker bases located at airports throughout the province. These bases are used by forest fire-fighting companies such as Conair. There is a former Conair Douglas A-26 air tanker on display at the BCAM.
Douglas A26 “Invader”
Of course the Douglas A26 was a late Second World War combat aircraft. The pair of 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800s provided a blistering performance and it was very versatile. It proved to be so valuable that it served with distinction in the Korean War, and by 1963 was being remanufactured for further service in the Vietnam War. This elderly aircraft went on to serve as a combat aircraft into the late 1970s. However in the 1960s it acquired a new profession as a fire bomber.
Our example of the Douglas A26 “Invader” entered service with Conair of Abbotsford BC in the spring of 1970. It completed over 2,000 hours of duty in its new role, until its last operational flight in 1984. Conair is a world leader in aerial fire-fighting, and generously donated the aircraft to the Museum in 1989. It was decided to keep it in its fire-fighting configuration.
Falconar AMF-S14 “Maranda”
This is a high-wing kit plane, with a large cabin for big people. It can mount a Lycoming or similar engine of between 100 and 200hp. It is ruggedly built as it is intended for rough field operations. Handling is docile and the design is well liked. Our example was started in 1966, but was donated in incomplete form by the Air Cadets.
The “Westwind IV” is a much-modified Beechcraft 18; a small transport and trainer first flown in January, 1937. The Beechcraft 18 was built in large numbers and remained in production until 1967. It featured two Pratt & Whitney R-985 “Wasp” engines, a tailwheel undercarriage and twin end-plate fins. The RCAF had 394 in service as the “Expeditor” between 1941 and 1968.
Our “Westwind IV” was an ex-RCAF Beechcraft 18 built in 1943. It was used as a trainer in the 1950s before becoming a BC Government transport. It was extensively modified in the mid-1960s by B.C. Government Air Services to “Westwind” standards. Two Pratt & Whitney PT-6 turboprops replaced the radial engines. A tricycle undercarriage was installed, and a single-piece swept fin and rudder replaced the twin tail. This airplane was assigned to the well-known Highways Minister of the day, Phil Gaglardi. It was subsequently sold to Keewatin Air of Manitoba as a light transport, and was damaged by fire. The damaged airframe was donated to BCAM in 1990, without engines.