Before the engine of the bright yellow Fleet 16B Finch II biplane could fire up, Canadian Museum of Flight volunteer Bill Findlay cranked the wooden propeller by hand, over and over.
Findlay explained he was checking the 125-horsepower five-cylinder radial power plant for hydraulic lock, a potentially catastrophic problem identified by an abnormal amount of effort required to rotate the propeller.
If oil drains into the lower cylinders of an engine and leaks past the piston rings to fill the combustion chamber, severe engine damage can result when it starts, he said.
The museum’s Fleet 16B Finch II, an RCAF trainer that was used between 1940 and 1944, was one of several vintage and replica aircraft that were moved out of Hangar No. 3, where the museum is located, into the open air for visitors to have a close-up look Saturday afternoon.
The “Big Chill” event, so-called because ice cream treats are served, drew over 200 people, about 80 of them children, to hear the engines turn over and see some of the aircraft fly.
It was the first time that Sopwith Pup fighter replicas “Betty/Phyllis” and “Happy” have flown together at a public event since their return from France this year where they participated in the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
The aircraft had to be disassembled for the trip back, but both are now flightworthy and have been flying for about two weeks, the museum said.
The aircraft were slightly smaller than the originals, built from a kit made by Airdrome Aeroplanes in Holdren, Missouri.
They recreated the look of the fighter flown by Canadian Ace Joseph Fall, who served in both the First and Second World Wars and had the name of his sisters, Betty and Phyllis painted on his plane.
As it was done in the First World War, the outside of the plane was painted with house paint, and the graphics were drawn freehand.
On one side, the name “Betty” is painted, and on the other is the name “Phyllis.”
Although many replicas of Fall’s plane have been made, the Canadian Museum of Flight’s is the only one to accurately portray both names, as period photographs show only “Betty” painted on the side.
The Canadian Museum of Flight is a non-profit, volunteer-driven museum that houses over 25 aircraft, both static and flying ranging from the only displayed Handley Page Hampden bomber to a Lockheed T-33 Silver Star jet trainer.
It also houses aircraft engines, models and other aviation history memorabilia.
Founded in the 1970’s, in Surrey, the Museum moved to the Langley Airport in 1996 and in 1998, legally changed its name to the Canadian Museum of Flight Association.
The Museum and restoration site at 5333 216 St. at the Langley airport is open year round from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
It is closed during some public holidays and over the Christmas-New Year break.
For more information, or to contact the Museum, phone: 604-532 -0035 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.