Bush Sedans - Canada's Bush Plane Museum
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I found a gem of an aviation museum while on a Hapaq-Lloyd German Cruise Lines voyage of the Great Lakes.
The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre is located in the historic former Ontario Provincial Air Service hangar at the edge of the St. Mary's River in downtown Sault Ste. Marie (often called the Soo), Ontario, Canada. The original hangar dates back to the 1940s; this is where bush piloting started, as well as firefighting using belly drops of water and chemicals.
Sault Ste. Marie is actually two cities separating the USA and Canada, split by the St. Mary's River and also is the industrial hub for the lock system that raises and lowers ships from Lake Huron to Lake Superior. The C. Columbus, the Nassau, Bahamas registered ship that I was cruising on, was not due to channel the locks until late that night, so a stroll a few blocks down Bay Street on the Canadian and larger of the two Soos (100,000 plus) found me piloting my way to the "Yellowbird" museum.
The bush planes are all in the original 1948 era hangar, and I have the chance to stop and visit with the renovation crew and mechanics clanging away on steel and aluminum. They perform superb jobs to bring new life back into the rare and often still serviceable and flyable relics.
The Beaver was built around the blueprint of a pickup truck, or so I learned from a fun film presentation at the Wings Over The North Theater, adjacent to the hangar. The Beaver is still flying bush patrols throughout Canada and the world, and it is one of the most rugged, dependable, and famous of the bush planes. A Beaver turboprop version rests a few yards away, and it still works, too.
The Canadian built deHavilland DHC-2 Beaver is a classic plane first constructed in 1948 and it is the second Beaver to ever be built, and the first of 44 purchased by the Air Service, and the oldest Beaver still flying, located near the Fire Camp, a replical of a typical 1940s fire crew camp, complete with tent, radio, and gear.
The deHavilland Mk III Turbo Beaver, when compared to the standard Beaver, has a turbine powered engine that carries additional passengers, climbs and cruises faster, and has a higher service ceiling. The turbo's snout is more tapered than the blunt nosed Beaver, and the engine is hundreds of pounds lighter, thus needing a bigger tail, according to one of the bush plane engineers. Engines are still to this day ground tested after overhauling and before bolted back into use on the planes within the hangar.
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