At the Hampton Gray Chapter for Canadian Naval Air Group (CNAG), members and invited guest gathered together for the annual Christmas party last night held at the Canada Air and Space Museum. Vintage Wings had the honour and pleasure of taking part and being acknowledged for it's contribution to the Navy Centennial celebrations and, in particular, helping the Hampton Gray Chapter acknowledge the importance of naval aviation and commemorate Canada's naval aviators.
Lead by Peter Milsom, Chapter President, the night was in tradition of gathering near the festive season and to also give attention to individuals and organizations that contributed in whatever small or large way to the accomplishment of CNAG's mission.
The Vintage Wings Hampton Gray Corsair took part in the Navy's celebrations throughout 2010 having been showcased to Canadians at various events across the country. So, indeed it was fitting for representation from Vintage Wings to be on hand to accept CNAG's gratitude for being such a significant part of the celebrations. Additionally, it was a chance for Vintage Wings to make a presentation to CNAG, thanking them for the opportunity to showcase one of Canada's great aviation heroes, Lt. Robert Hampton "Hammy" Gray and tell the story our nation's naval aviation history.
During the several speeches delivered throughout the evening, a very poignant point was made about Canada's naval aviation past and the need to embrace history as we move forward. Sadly, today, it is not well known and will continue to lose relevance with future generation the fact that Canada once had a large, strong and significant naval air component belonging to the Royal Canadian Navy. Men like Hampton Gray made great sacrifices in the war effort wearing a naval air uniform and, in fact, Hammy was the only naval aviator to be award the Victoria Cross, albeit posthumously.
"The [Hamprton Gray] stories teaches us to make the right decision [today]. That's why history is important to our youth, in the classroom and to those in uniform who serve," said Cmdr Newton, senior Canadian Naval Officer serving here in Ottawa. "Thank you to CNAG and to Vintage Wings of Canada for curing maritime blindness."
Col. Sam Michaud, commander of 12 Wing Shearwater echoed that sentiment that while the naval aviation community may well be lost on a generation of Air Force pilots post 1968, the commitment to serve with the navy remains constant. "The name may have gone away with a capital 'n' capital 'a' but the spirit lives on," said Col. Michaud.
In closing the evening, it was Michael Potter, Vintage Wings founder, who breathed excitement into the room when he spoke about the next endeavour in telling more stories naval aviation to Canadians. The beloved Swordfish, part of the Vintage Wings collection, will finally have its Pegasus engine in just a matter of days. While it may have missed its debut during the Navy's centennial year, it will be showcased at various events throughout 2011 to commemorate our nation's aviation veterans who served with the Royal Navy. "Our Swordfish will be a rare and remarkable story to bring to Canadians next year." shared Mike Potter
The Swordfish is David and Goliath story of victory and defeat in regards to the infamous sinking of the Bismarck. Do stay tuned here and on Vintage News to discover a memorable dedication about to unfold next year!
-Paul Kissmann, Gray Ghost team lead, stands before the Canada Air and Space Museum's Corsair and shares his tales of the ups and downs of the season including being completely fogged out during the International Fleet Review in Halifax during the Queen's visit in June to be followed later with sunny skies over Victoria in August. The Hampton Gray Corsair will make another western circuit in 2011 including the Calgary Stampede.