Friday, January 6, 2012

Decorated Lancaster Pilot to Participate in Warbird U – Harvard Ground School

By Course Instructor Rob Kostecka

A new year has begun – and Vintage Wings’ popular Warbird U ground schools are back for another season.  It is always a privilege when veterans join us, to provide first-hand recollections of the aircraft that they flew.  We are delighted to announce that F/O Bob MacDonell, DFC – who earned his wings on Harvards here in Ottawa at No. 2 Service Flying Training School (SFTS), Uplands - will be attending the Harvard Ground School on January 28/29. 

Bob MacDonell is an enthusiastic, long-time supporter of Vintage Wings.  The yellowed pages of Bob’s logbook and his other mementos record his wartime service in the RCAF; a journey that began in 1941, when a seventeen-year-old boy from small-town Ontario, who was “looking for adventure” enlisted.  Bob’s wartime service included contributions to both the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) and to the Bomber Command’s offensive against Nazi Germany – where he earned a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) while flying Lancasters with the RAF’s elite 9 Sqn.
Veteran pilot Bob MacDonell "back in the saddle"

9 Squadron has a special place in the history of the RAF.  Along with the famous 617 “Dambuster” Squadron, 9 Squadron carried out special operations – including raids with “Tall Boy” bombs. Bob flew several missions with these enormous weapons, which were both devastating to the enemy and very dangerous for the crews that carried them.  The targets attacked by Bob and his squadron mates were some of the most valued assets of the Third Reich. They were also some of the most heavily defended. Tall Boy missions were flown during daylight hours which made the Lancasters even more susceptible to flak and enemy fighters.

The Harvard played an important role in Bob’s development – and we are honoured to have him talk about his experiences at Warbird U.  Our two-day ground school offers technical and operational information on some of the most important aircraft of the second World War – including the Harvard.  Each of our instructors is a Vintage Wings pilot current on type.  Course participants include the Vintage Wings pilots who fly the aircraft and warbirds enthusiasts – including both pilots and non-flyers.

Students will get in-depth instruction and many valuable experiences including:

·         Discussion of the aircraft history, and the significance of type in a Canadian context;

·         Presentations on aircraft technical systems:  powerplant, hydraulics, landing gear, flight controls, electrics, etc.;

·         Briefings on aircraft handling, flying characteristics, normal procedures as well as abnormal/emergency procedures;

·         Private tour of Vintage Wings of Canada collection & facility;

·         A thorough “walk-around” of the aircraft;

·         Individual cockpit familiarization;

·         A “hero shot” of each participant in their warbird; and

·         A graduation certificate.

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