A DeHavilland jet fighter has been stored under cover and out of sight at 19 Wing Comox for over 20 years, but a move is now underway to build a new home for it at the outdoor airplane museum next door.
“Part of this aircraft is actually constructed of wood, including balsa and spruce, so it can’t be stored outside without getting damaged by the weather,” said Vampire Project Manager Major Kevin Stevens.
“So that’s why we want to build a pavilion,” he told CHEK News.
The first of its kind jet engine DeHavilland Vampire Mark III was a remarkable aircraft for its time and the first jet engine fighter plane that Canada ever employed.
It broke numerous records after being designed and built in Britain in the 1940s. It was the first plane to land on an aircraft carrier, and it set an altitude record of 59,500 feet in March 1948.
“Canada purchased 85 of the planes in 1948 and they were retired in 1958,” added Stevens. “They were normally used for training purposes and stationed all across the country.”
The plane at 19 Wing, tail number 17031, was purchased privately by an American decades ago, who then traded it back to the Canadian Government for a Tutor jet in 2000.
Now it’s time to make a suitable home for it in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force on April 1, 2024.
“The sad thing is they have to be inside, so this poor aircraft has been pushed around from hanger to hanger,” said project member Dave Mellin.
“The general public hasn’t seen this aircraft and it’s quite a piece of aviation history.”
So far, $350,000 of the $1.3 million needed for the project has been raised.
More information can be found here.