B.C. Aviation Museum lands provincial hall of fame

For the first time, the province’s Aviation Hall of Fame will have a physical space to call home.

The B.C. Aviation Museum at Victoria International Airport expects to unveil the new space in July at its annual open house. Previously, the hall of fame existed only online at bcaviation.com.

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John Lewis, president of the B.C. Aviation Museum, said the move is a win for both organizations. He said by taking on responsibility for the hall of fame, the museum adds an attraction to draw in visitors, and the hall will see more of the light of day.

“We were initially interested in setting up our own roll of honour or what have you, but we got in touch with the individual who has been running the hall of fame and he was interested in handing over responsibility to us,” said Lewis. “It has worked out very well for both parties.”

Lewis said they are working on a design, but expects there will be a display showing the history of the hall of fame’s members.

There are 24 members, representing both individuals and organizations who have built aviation in B.C.

Lewis said the plan is to greatly expand the hall. “We hope to have an annual event for induction,” he said. “There will be a committee responsible for selecting inductees.”

Inductees will unveiled July 23 at an open house at the museum.

The hall of fame includes Nanaimo-born naval air ace Raymond Collishaw who, according to the hall’s information, was credited with having shot down 60 enemy aircraft by the end of the First World War. During the Second World War, Collishaw was in Egypt and in charge of the Desert Air Force.

Also inducted are the Flying Seven, the province’s pioneering female pilots who formed in 1936. The group offered its services in the Second World War, but they were not accepted as pilots by the Royal Canadian Air Force. Instead, they raised funds to buy training aircraft for a school in Vancouver.

And it includes William Wallace Gibson of Victoria, who in 1910 and without training, designed and built the first successful Canadian aircraft engine.

The Daily Colonist noted on Sept. 10, 1910, that Gibson made a trial flight over the Dean farm near Mount Tolmie.

Lewis said the historical accounts add a lot to the museum, which is starting to see more visitors at its site at 1910 Norseman Rd. near Victoria International Airport.

“I think it all helps. Everything we do that is new and interesting will help attract people to the museum,” he said. “Attendance is going up steadily, though it’s not as good as we would like it to be.

“I think in the past we have been a bit of a hidden gem and we are working hard to overcome that and make ourselves more widely known.”

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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