Sadly, historical Dunnville Airport in Haldimand County is being taken over by 6 industrial wind turbines. The photo above is of the 1st wind turbine of Samsung’s 67-turbine wind project being constructed in Haldimand. This first wind turbine stands at the Dunnville Airport at Port Maitland. The airport was the base for No. 6 Service Flying Training School from the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). Over 2,400 pilots from Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the US earned their wings here from 1940 -1944. This training school was one of 41 such facilities across Canada and was one of the few remaining ones. In 1999, the airport was re-opened and about 25 planes were stored at and flown from the airport as well as a Skydive business operated there until May 30, 2013 when the airport was closed to flight operations because of an agreement by the owner to erect 6 wind turbines on and close to the airport. Not only did those planes and Skydive operation have to move out but the economy of Port Maitland and Dunnville area businesses will also be affected.
However, the museum at the airport remains open. The No. 6 RCAF Dunnville Museum was opened in 2003 at the airport by a group of interested and dedicated volunteers with an aim to preserve the history of the flying school and ensure that future generations could learn how the BCATP contributed towards the freedom we all enjoy today. Since the airport is now closed to flight operations, 3 privately-owned airworthy vintage aircraft were removed from the museum collection to be taken where they could still be flown. There are however, 5 vintage planes presently in the museum to see. Also in the museum is a flight simulator, photos, uniforms, medals, artifacts, memorabilia and a library. Outdoors, a beautiful memorial garden honours the 47 airmen who died in training at this school, at the Flying School near Hagersville and at the Bombing and Gunnery School near Jarvis. On a pedestal overlooking the garden, is a beautifully restored Harvard plane, one of the popular types flown at this school. The museum is open every Tuesday all year from 9 am to 1 pm to coincide with the time that the volunteer work crew is there. It’s also open on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from Victoria Day weekend through Labour Day and on Remembrance Day. Times: Saturdays and holidays from 10 – 5 and Sundays from 1 – 5. Tours can be arranged at other times. There’s no charge but donations are welcomed. It’s a great place to visit! For more info: www.rcafmuseum.org
I’m very thankful for the museum volunteers as they deserve our heartfelt thanks and support for all their hours of hard work and dedication to preserve a part of Haldimand’s heritage and Canada’s history. I sincerely hope that the museum continues to flourish as the planes and sky divers coming and going were an extra drawing card for the museum. Sadly, as long as the wind turbines remain, we will no longer see the vintage planes flying over this historical base as another piece of our heritage has been forever changed.
Betty Ortt, Nanticoke