Pilots Bill Findlay and Ray Horton perform one last water bombing demonstration before permanently parking the Firecat air tanker aircraft at the Canadian Museum of Flight on Friday. The retired water bomber

Flight museum fired up over Firecat acquisition

Historic aircraft that was used during the Cold War will make its final home at the Canadian Museum of Flight at the Langley airport



Crowds at the Canadian Museum of Flight witnessed a piece of history on Friday morning as a retired Conair Firecat Air Tanker made its final flight through Langley skies.

Two fly-overs and a ceremonial water drop over Langley Regional Airport marked its last journey before the red plane was parked at the Canadian Museum of Flight.

The Firecat, which was donated to the flight museum by Abbotsford-based Conair Aviation, is the greatest acquisition the centre has ever made, according to  Bruce Friesen, vice president of the Canadian Museum of Flight.

“Our job as a museum is to bring British Columbia’s aviation history into the future, to make sure it doesn’t disappear,” said Friesen.

“This plane is B.C. aviation history. For all of us at the museum, this is perhaps the most useful exhibit we could possibly have. We are just so excited.”

Originally built as a CS2F Tracker aircraft in the 1950s, the plane was used to hunt submarines off the deck of the Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Bonaventure during the Cold War. When the military retired the fleet in the 1970s, Conair bought the planes and converted them to Firecats to battle fires. They were retired from service in Canada this year, although some are still operating in France.

Obtaining one of the planes for the museum has been a 10-year process for the plane’s final pilots, Bill Findlay, a long-time volunteer with the museum, and Ray Horton, a pilot with Conair for more than 30 years.

The pilots, who are also next-door neighbours, made it their ultimate goal to have a Firecat in Langley as soon as the planes were retired.

They wanted to bring the “airplane home to our original home,” since Conair Aviation originated from Langley’s Skyway Air Services, which operated out of Langley Airport in the 1960s.

“It means so much to the museum to have the aircraft here,” Findlay said. “It’s just the thrill of a lifetime. I’ve been involved in flying for 45 or 50 years and this is right up there with one of those big, big days.”

It’s a big moment for Conair, too, Horton added.

“It’s a real pleasure for us because this was an incredibly successful airplane in our fleet. It’s an icon from our fleet, it’s been in our service for over 30 years,” he said. “

To see them retire is a bit of a tear-shedder, but at the same time we know we are going to have it here on display for people for many, many years to come.”

This was also Findlay’s and Horton’s first flight together, making that moment even more memorable for the two of them.

“Living next to Bill for so long, we’ve never actually flown together,” Horton said. “This was our first flight. It’s a real pleasure to finally get in the sky and do a flight like this in this airplane.

“We’ll be looking back on this for years from now.”

Just Posted

Langley students help out at clinic during National Blood Donors Week

Credo Christian students helped celebrated National Blood Donors Week by helping at a blood clinic

Langley’s oldest and last strip bar shuts its doors

The Alder Inn, in operation since 1957, has reportedly been purchased

Update: Show of support after pride flag was taken down by Township of Langley

Township statement said flag was removed due to “confusion” about whether it was on private property

No more TransLink buses for Langley until at least September

Route changes and increases start soon, but Langley gets no increases this summer

Kwantlen-language street signs proposed for Fort Langley

Halkomelem language could be added to local signage

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Dinosaur statues from defunct Dinotown theme park stolen in Chilliwack

The dinosaur figures once graced the theme park but were destined for Chilliwack fundraiser

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

Most Read