1959 Cadillac and Avro Arrow replica
1959 Cadillac and Avro Arrow replica . Click image to enlarge

Article and photos by Jil McIntosh

Photo Gallery:
Wings and Wheels Heritage Festival

Toronto, Ontario – Back in the 1950s, a new airplane was taking shape in a company in Malton, Ontario, near Toronto. It was called the Avro Arrow, and many believe it could have put Canada at the forefront of aviation technology. We’ll never know, because the project was cancelled in 1959, with all of the existing prototypes and tooling destroyed.

Today, a full-size replica exists, and it was the showpiece at the Wings & Wheels Heritage Festival at the Canadian Air & Space Museum on May 28 and 29. Although overcast weather put a damper on some of Saturday’s fly-by activities, the sixth annual show still attracted a huge number of visitors, many of them arriving in their vintage vehicles. The event is held both outdoors and inside buildings from the old deHavilland aircraft factory and is hosted by the museum.

Philip Gray flew a Lancaster Bomber on 16 operations in WW2
1930 and 1928 Model A Fords
Philip Gray flew a Lancaster Bomber on 16 operations in WW2 (top photo); 1930 and 1928 Model A Fords. Click image to enlarge

I started inside the museum, where a Lancaster Bomber is slowly being restored. Some 7,377 were built, with 430 of them made in Malton. Only about 20 have survived, and only two of them are still flying – and one of those is housed not that far away at the small airport in Hamilton, Ontario. The Lancaster under restoration was among the last to be built and was finished too late to see war duty, and so for more than 30 years it was displayed outdoors on a post on Toronto’s waterfront. All that time outside took its toll and the restoration is a huge job. Visitors got a chance to see the restoration work up close and also to meet with Philip Gray, an 88-year-old who flew Lancasters on 16 bombing missions from Britain to Germany, and then flew another six operations to get prisoners of war out of Holland at the conflict’s end. “It was an easy plane to fly,” he said. “Of course, you were behind four Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, each putting out 1,680 horsepower.”

As horrible as war is, the need for better bombers and tougher tanks moves technology by leaps and bounds, and many of the vintage cars and trucks outside were the result. The domestic automakers ceased car production in 1942, and until civilian cars again rolled down the assembly lines in 1946, the giant factories turned out everything from planes and tanks to ammunition and even the soldiers’ helmets.

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