If you’ve ever been in the Toronto area in the summer and happened to look up to see an Avro Lancaster flying overhead, you’re one of the lucky few. There’s only two of these historic warplanes left in the world that can still fly. One calls Ontario home- specifically a hanger at the Hamilton Airport.
I did the hour drive on Sunday morning and ended up at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (http://www.warplane.com/) to see the 47 planes in their collection. This time of year a few of the planes have made the trip to other hangers for the winter, and they’ve moved some others outside to make room for events they hold; but it’s still very worth the trip. This not-for-profit museum is open year round and hosts decades of Canadian aviation history; older bi-planes through modern fighter jets.
The tour begins just after the admissions desk with some fantastic displays depicting the dam busters, crewmen history and much more, from there you enter the hanger and, depending on time of year, will see one of the larger planes in the collection surrounded by the smaller fighters. We were greeted by the Casno, a submarine spotter with over a 100 foot wingspan. The crew was going over final checks prior to flying it to its winter home.
At the other end of the hanger was the Avro Lancaster midway through a major overhaul. In between were several prop planes and jets to check out. This is a 100% self guided tour, which I love, and there’s always a very knowledgeable volunteer (and judging by some of the shined shoes, retired servicemen and woman) nearby to answer any questions.
There are aircraft that you can walk through and cockpits to sit in. near the exit there's also some great flight simulators. In the summer (well, June through November), they actually sell tickets to be able to fly in some of these aircraft, starting at about $80 with a membership for a 20 minute flight- a reason to go back in my mind! After about 3 hours I think I saw everything and exited through the giftshop.
If you are anywhere near Hamilton, I strongly suggest a visit, there's something for everyone. If you find yourself early- lookup Egg and I for breakfast, on Upper James Street.