A gala Saturday night out at Aldergrove's Langley Banquet Centre has gone a long way to helping the Canadian Museum of Flight get airborne.
Organizers have not tallied up the cash receipts as of The Star's press deadline, but it will be a substantial contribution towards the museum's plans to build and fly a pair of replica Sopwith Pups to the centenary service next April 9 at Vimy Ridge.
In that First World War battle, April 9-12, 1917, four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force captured the German fortification in France. It came at a great cost, with 3,598 Canadian corps killed in action, and to this day the Vimy Ridge monument stands in the memorial park in recognition of Canada's contributions and losses.
The flight museum, based at Langley Airport, is a nonprofit society and is operated by volunteers. The museum volunteers open their doors to visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and they have a variety of historic aircraft and replicas on display.
The volunteer crews are also building a pair of Sopwith Pups, WW1 vintage aircraft, from scratch. The volunteers, many of whom have aviation trade skills, are fabricating the two Sopwiths in time for flight crews to take them to Vimy Ridge for next year's 100th anniversary of the famous battle.
The Sopwiths will make 12 stops traveling across Canada before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to their destination.
The museum has operated for the past 30 years on a minimal budget but ambitious plans such as the Vimy Ridge trip and the construction of new museum facilities at the airport require major dollars. Their hangar was also heavily damaged in a recent windstorm, and requires reconstruction.
Heritage Canada is involved and Canadian Geographic has also focussed on the museum with "A Nation Soars" film.
The fundraiser in Aldergrove included dinner and entertainment for the 130 guests, as well as 60 aviation-related auction items donated by the many supporters of the museum.
"It was so much fun," said Annette McArthur, one of the organizing committee members.
"We have so many dedicated souls helping the museum, a hidden gem in our community. Mayor Jack Froese and his wife came and stayed for the full event, which was much appreciated.
"Thank you for all who helped with our Canadian Museum of Flight Gala, especially Michelle Dallas, Mike Bassguy, Scott Barratt and his wife Pamela Busse Rough. Canadian heritage and honouring those who formed it are an elite group of heroes," said McArthur.
The fundraising committee is chaired by Bruce Friesen and also includes Carla Demenchuk, Bernada Bilic and Rachel Twine.