Sunday, 14 May 2017

Vimy Flight

The four replica Nieport XI biplanes of the Vimy Flight visited Halifax over the weekend. Originally due to arrive on Friday, weather kept them at Greenwood until Saturday, arriving in time for a flypast over Citadel Hill around 11:30 am. 

When we first spotted them, the middle two were popping some smoke.

After their flypast, all four headed over to CFB Shearwater to land, and two of the aircraft were walked backwards down the hill to the Shearwater Aviation Museum (they apparently weigh in the range of 550 lbs each). To move the aircraft, one pilot lifts the tail while another pushes from the front.

The pilot of this plane is Allan Snowie, author of "The Bonnie - HMCS BONAVENTURE". 

Here is one of the aircraft with two re-enactors from the Citadel in period uniform.
The aircraft are apparently built at 7/8 scale as compared to the original planes. I don't know the reason behind the size discrepancy, although it may have something to do with the requirement to fit four of these into a CC-177 Globemaster III for the trip to France and back so that they could fly over the memorial at Vimy for the centennial.

Lots of bright colours!

The engines were originally rotary engines, apparently - I'm not sure what they are using here. I suspect the red battery inside isn't accurate either.

The arrow actually serves a purpose, though you don't have to use an arrow. The original aircraft were fitted with splitters to prevent the cables from rubbing together, and someone started using an arrow for this purpose and it caught on.I'm guessing the plastic wire ties holding them on are not historically accurate.

The planes are all built of wood, reinforced with wire cable, and are covered with fabric, as were the originals. There are a few modern touches, however, especially when on looks into the cockpit.

I generally don't take selfies, but apparently I did here - can you spot me?

There are a few modern touches in the cockpit, including radios and instrumentation that would not have been available during the First World War. I'm assuming they also carry GPS.

One of the two aircraft is fitted with a Lewis gun mounted on the top wing, just over the cockpit.
The Lewis gun was an automatic machine gun perfected during the First World War. On aircraft, it was fitted without the cooling shroud seen on land-based weapons, presumably to save weight.

I strongly suspect the original aircraft didn't have an iPhone charging cable.

A close-up of the Lewis gun mounted on the upper wing.

This aircraft carries multiple dedications.
All four aircraft took off again on Saturday afternoon, and headed north to a small airfield outside Windsor, NS. They have a schedule on their website, which they do not seem to be following all that closely.

The cross-Canada tour began in Nova Scotia around May 6, and will continue west from here, apparently skipping Newfoundland & Labrador.

For lack of anywhere else to mention them, and also aircraft related, I will also show an interesting sight that flew overhead while I was cutting some wood outside just before sunset last night.

A flight of what I assume are three airliners headed from New York to London, all flying in a line. I had to choose between having trees or power lines in my shot. I chose the trees.

I liked how the contrail was petering out behind the last aircraft.

I'm assuming the third and final aircraft was a Boeing 747, but I am only going by the four engines and rough shape of the fuselage.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Battle of the Atlantic Sunday - 2017

After several years of sunny weather on the first Sunday in May, I suppose it was time for some typically Nova Scotian weather to accompany the Battle of the Atlantic Sunday service. Halifax Harbour was socked in with thick fog, lifting only occasionally to reveal other ships in the Dockyard and the Macdonald Bridge.

HMCS MONTREAL in the fog.
As with last year, the service was held onboard HMCS MONTREAL, but unlike last year, the attendees were crammed like sardines into MONTREAL's helicopter hangar. Because of the wind, rain, and limited visibility, MONTREAL remained alongside for the entire service. Although the ashes of those to be committed were present for the service, the committal itself will occur at a later date, and the families of the deceased may or may not have the opportunity to be present depending on what arrangements are made at the time. The ashes of veterans are sometimes committed to the sea when the opportunity arises (and a ship is available) and it is not always possible to have the families present.

With the hangar so crowded, it was not possible to move around easily taking photos, without getting in the way of family members attending the service (or smacking them in the head with my camera bag, which is apparently bad form). Those of us photographers present spent most of our time just outside the hangar shooting the service from the front, trying to stay out of each other's way, while aiming for good angles of the proceedings.

Due to time constraints, I will largely present the photos of the service without further commentary:

The command staff salute during the singing of 'O Canada'.

The hangar was very crowded, making it difficult to move around.

Cdr. Chris Sherban addresses the attendees. 

LCdr. (Ret'd) Jim Reddy.

MONTREAL's kisbee ring, with the ensign at half-mast.

CNMT member Graham McBride stands by the ashes of veterans to be committed. 

Padre singing a hymn.

Raindrops on MONTREAL's bell.

Command staff of HMCS MONTREAL, from left to right: CPO1 Stan Ryan, LCdr Kevin Nolan, and Cdr Chris Sherban.

After the service, the ensign was hauled all the way back up.