To honour the pilots who served with gallantry and distinction during the Great War of 1914 – 1918.
The Great War Flying Museum, operated by the Ontario Aviation Historical Society, is a not-for-profit volunteer member organization and is registered and authorized to issue tax receipts to all donors.
The GWFM was founded in 1970 by a group of Brampton Flying Club members. All of the founders were pilots, mostly private but several airline pilots as well. Besides being pilots all absolutely loved aeroplanes and WW1 aeroplanes in particular.
The first aircraft was purchased from a well known amateur aircraft builder, Mr. Gogi Goguillot who lived in Langley, BC. This was a 0.85 scale British SE 5A. It was dismantled and shipped to us by truck. We still fly this aircraft on a regular basis. It is very popular and is the first challenge for each new pilot as they come on-stream. This is the only aircraft which is not full scale. All subsequent replicas are full scale and based upon original drawings.
The materials and engines which we use are, of course, not the same as would be used in WWI but if you stand back and view our machines you will recognize that they are very close to the original physical design.
The originals used linen or cotton as a skin for the wings, control surfaces and fuselage. We use a modern synthetic product known as Ceconite which is much stronger and with modern paint and dope will stand up for many years against the intense sun. Linen has a short life in sun but that was not a problem during WWI when an aircraft had a short life expectancy.
Many original construction techniques have been changed to modern materials, steel tube fuselages, instead of wood, etc, so that the finished airframe is more rugged, safe and durable.
As an organisation we have determined that expensive and maintenance heavy original engines do not fit our mandate. We therefore use similar design but more modern and accessible units. Radial engines are still in production and appropriate WWII vintage engines and most parts are readily available. The Russians still build very good radial engines and we have one of these ear-marked for our Sopwith Camel project. It might surprise you to know that WWII Canadian military tanks used large radial engines and we use these also. Our first tank engine actually fired and started in less than a minute after having been ”moth balled” for 51 years. It had one hour of factory test time on it confirmed by its own built-in ”run clock”.
WWI aircraft did not have brakes, something that had yet to be developed for aircraft.. Early aircraft simply pointed into wind, poured on the throttle and took off. Landing without brakes was not a problem because they had lots of field to use up and their tail skid helped to slow them down.
Instrumentation on WWI aircraft varied from minimal to complex. Since our aircraft take part in airshows and fly in a modern aeronautical environment, we must meet strict regulations for instrumentation, communication, navigation, emergency location devices, transponders, fire extinguishers, etc. Modern instruments allow us to meet these requirements. It’s a very regulated, demanding and expensive undertaking but we love it.
Our fleet now consists of the following:
– One 85% scale British SE5A
– One Sopwith 1-1/2 Strutter – 2 place — machine gunner facing rear – the pride of our fleet
– One Nieuport 28 — our fastest replica
– One Fokker D.VII — a favorite at airshows
– One Fokker Dr.I Triplane — in the colors and markings of the famous and dreaded Baron Manfred von Richthofen
– One full scale British SE5A
We have a Sopwith Camel under construction.
The GWFM opens on the Victoria Day long weekend in May and closes in mid Sept. following our grand annual Fly-In and air display. Everyone is welcome, weekends and holidays throughout our season. Bring your cameras, children and grandparents.