Museum of Flight at Langley Airport
There she stands, the sleek, silver-coated Avro CF-100, pride of the Royal Canadian Air Force; sassy as ever, her metallic body gleaming in the sunshine of another spring. At RCAF Base Trenton, north of Toronto, where I first saw her 'dance the skies,' this lady was Canada's debutante, a grand new star in the theater of the air. By her side sits a more humble, homelier craft, once common as geese on Canada's wind-swept prairies (or so it seemed); the rugged, reliable Harvard Mark IV. This black and yellow 'bumble bee' was the backbone of Canada's large training fleet, and the first solo experience for many NATO pilots. Saluting these stalwarts of my air force days, including the Beechcraft Expeditor perched nearby, certainly stirred the emotions. But here at the Canadian Museum of Flight my opening question was this. "How did these aircraft, and over 70 other treasures of the aviation world end up here at Langley, BC?
Looking back: It's a true life adventure story; one of dedication, recovery and restoration, plus the initiative that created a force of several hundred volunteers. A local action to prevent the export of historic aircraft, grew into a crusade, ranking this BC attraction among Canada's leading air museums. Each aircraft in this elite group has its peculiar story to tell. Few arrived intact; many are true reincarnations --fished from rivers, lakes, swamps and fjords, painfully restored from piles of debris, rescued from the jaws of 'cannibals' , junk dealers and scavengers. You'll see craft from every chapter of the aviation history book; early bush planes, gliders and home-builts, amphibians, spy planes, transports, fighters, bombers and several generations of jets, plus the denizens of what they called "helicopter hill" at the museum's first location near Surrey's Crescent Beach.
Who wouldn't be impressed by such vintage warriors as the Sopwith Camel, Westland Lysander, Republic Seabee, Lockheed Silverstar, Avro Arrow, and names like Aeronca, Bell, Bellanca, Blackburn, Boeing, Bristol, Curtis, deHavilland, Fairchild, Fleet Finch, Frankfort, Handley-Page, Hawker, Piper, Pissecki, Sikorsky, Stinson, and Waco. Each invokes its special claim to the field of memories.
We first viewed the Museum of Flight unescorted, with cameras in hand, letting our imaginations soar, and capturing some priceless shots for the family archives. The next time, however, I donned the headphones for an "audio- dramatization"... a narrated journey through these fascinating displays. The realistic sounds and professional voices on the audio track recreate history, providing detail, drama, life and motion to the experience.
You'll witness first hand, the cramped, fully exposed gun-turrets and better understand the hazards faced by attack allied crews that hovered anxiously over occupied Europe. Rare birds, unusual relics and one-of-a-kind wonders abound; a Hampden bomber, raised from the deep after 44 years; an airborne banana; a flying anvil; a flying panhandle; a flying ice cream cone ... and more. You'll hear their dramatic stories through the medium of audio tape. Some units such as the Westland Lysander, too fragile for outside display await hanger space at a future date.
wheels- and wonders!
Open daily year round: 10 am
to 4 pm.
Heading east from Vancouver on the Trans Canada Highway to Abbotsford (at Exit 66), a favourite side trip anytime of t he day or year, is the laid back community of Fort Langley, where you can buy ripe berries of tree fruit in season or fresh fish from a stand near the river. Are you in the mood for some fabulous food? Try Bedford House, a 3-storey former lumber baron's Victorian style residence, which faces the Fraser River in a treed, park like area. Across the road from Bedford, near the Albion Ferry Dock, is another pleasant dining spot with a river view and a broad patio. After lunch, dinner, browsing the art stores and antique shopping, you'll want to visit the 'fort' operated by Heritage Canada. Speaking of antiques, the town is loaded with treasures of early Canadiana- reflecting the lifestyles and souvenirs of many generations.
A National Historic Site
Transportation: The Fraser River Connection, a replica of an early river boat, visits Fort Langley regularly during the tourism season. The river cruise operates between here and Westminster Quay in New Westminster.
The Ferry at Fort Langley takes cars across the river, where you can visit a variety of Mighty Fraser communities and attractions. 23433 Mavis Ave., Fort Langley, BC
Hours: 10 am
to 5 pm daily.
It took several journeys between France and British Columbia before Claude Violet found the exact combination he desired; a soil and a climate similar to his home in the wine-producing area of Southern Alsace. Eventually Mr. Violet settled in the Fraser Valley in South Langley on a 33 acre of property that's a stone's throw from the Canada-USA. Here in a pastoral setting, ringed by the snow capped peaks of the Coast Mountains, Violet found the micro-climate and soil types that would enable he and his family to establish Domaine de Chaberton. That moment of discovery was in 1982, and now 18 years later, the winery is yielding the finest of white wines. On our last visit to his vineyards we sampled three popular whites - Madeline Angelvine, Madeline Sylvaner and the reigning favourite in my opinion - Bacchus.
I first interviewed Claude
Violet in 1992, and have recommended the company's products
ever since. Domaine de Chaberton wines participated at the
1st Business to Business Show at Abbotsford Airport
terminal, hosted by Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce.
Langley, BC , have converted the historic Traveller's Inn (oldest hotel in the province that is still operating) into a charming, unforgettable bed and breakfast operation. We've had a full tour by the owners and are pleased to recommend it to our viewers or honeymoons, small group tours or any occasion.
It was a great idea and we enjoyed the inaugural flight, however the service was suspended in mid 1999. This was a much needed connection for thousands of people in both areas of British Columbia. For the record, here it the gist of an article we prepared to describe the concept.
Soar with the eagles, above the gridlock, exhaust fumes and frustrating ferry lineups. It doesn't take rocket science or amarketing guru to see the problem or spot the opportunity just drive the Trans Canada, from Horseshoe Bay to Hope ... or join the snail's parade, inching its way to BC Ferries' Tsawwassen terminal. Gridlock has grounded Islanders and Mainlanders in a sea of cars. What's the answer? Brent Kerr chose to rise "above it all.' Years of street savvy and guerilla marketing prompted Kerr to launch Island Valley Airways, an airline that gives the Fraser Valley's 700,000 residents a fast, direct, low cost link to their Island neighbors. We recently joined Kerr's group in an inaugural flight to Comox, via Victoria and Nanaimo. This was a double whammy for Valleyites, who celebrated the marriage of WestJet and Abbotsford Airport not long ago. The two parties met at a 1996 trade show hosted by Air Highways Magazine; how about that? This new "Fraser Valley Combo" of two airports-two airlines, gives passengers dozens of options for business travel, vacations, or visiting friends and relatives in BC, Alberta and the Prairies. Island Valley Airways Hotline: 877-359-6837
From Green Valleys to Green Airports: In the wake of Open Skies, creative operators like Brent Kerr of Island Valley Airways and WestJet's Clive Beddoe are teaching the airline establishment a lesson in Marketing 101. Both chose airports on Vancouver's doorstep, where most of the area's population resides. These gateways are people places, easily accessible, with unclouded, user-friendly terminals and free parking for all. My friend, Dr. Rashmi Bashur of the United Nations and Globe 2000 calls them "Green Airports ... Agoras of the Future." While looking ahead to aviation's new Millennium, Langley Airport reflects the Canadian spirit my generation remembers so fondly.
The same can be said for Island Valley Airways other gateways: Victoria's new air terminal plans to bring the outside in; Nanaimo's Cottonwood Golf Course parallels the airport runway, and Comox Valley Airport is top class, thanks to defense dollars and community spirit. Langley and Fort Langley are on the "Country Side" of Vancouver, laid back, yet sprouting new hotels, shopping areas and residential villages. Our Langley-based airline also saves travelers the stress of crawling along in traffic to get to the ferry terminal, or waiting to go through security clearances and paying airport improvement fees at Vancouver International Airport. Reduced stress levels come at no extra charge." Now, that's a healthy idea!
Valley Airways has the winning
seeing Aboard the Twin Otter:
A Fare Comparison: Fares are as low as $39 one-way between the Mainland and Victoria or Nanaimo, and $29 one-way between Victoria and Nanaimo. Langley Airport was selected as the company's Mainland location due to the airport's close proximity to North Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Surrey and the Fraser Valley. To get to BC Ferries' Tsawwassen terminal from North or West Vancouver for the Victoria ferry takes the same time as the drive to Langley airport. The big difference is that when you arrive at Langley, you park your car for free and arrive in Victoria half an hour later. "Think about that while you stand in the ferry line," Kerr added.