Almost a year after it opened its newest hangar, the BC Aviation Museum (BCAM) is flying along on one of its biggest projects ever — the restoration of the Trans Canada Airlines Vickers-Armstrong Viscount 757.
The BCAM, which has been in operation now for more than 20 years, came to own the Viscount after it was able to purchase it from the BC Institute of Technology in 2005. It was brought over on a barge from Vancouver and placed at the museum until work could begin to restore it.
In 2007, work began on the exterior components of the aircraft which will eventually be restored to how it was when it was in service as a passenger aircraft in the 1960s.
Although aviation museum members were excited about the acquisition and planned restoration of the Viscount, there was something else on the horizon for the organization.
“Our main goal along with restoring the Viscount was to build a new hangar to house larger planes and keep them out of the elements,” said past president and long-time board member, Bill Locker. The BCAM made the decision to build the hangar in 2005 but needed money before construction could begin.
“We fundraised for two years before we were able to start building,” said Locker.
Former president, the late Stan Henderson who the hangar is named after, applied for funding through the provincial government. Unfortunately, the request was turned down.
“We were able to raise enough for the hangar from our fundraising efforts and from contributions from our members and their estates to complete the project,” said Locker. “We had a lot of help from our donors, from the Victoria Airport Authority, from everyone.”
Overall, the construction of the hangar cost the BCAM more than $1 million, but it was all worth it, Locker said.
“We’re very pleased to have somewhere to house and work on the larger aircraft,” he said. “The point we’re at now is the one we had hoped to be at — we finally have everything inside.”
The BCAM is an organization completely driven and run by volunteers. Everyone who works in the museum, including the tour guides, the restoration crew, and the office staff are all there because they have a passion for the organization. “This is an exciting place,” said Locker. “It has a way of becoming a part of your life and a part of your family.”
The museum is open every day of the year with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission and member donations keep the organization going and help the museum keep their displays interesting.
“We always have people coming in and asking us if there is anything new … We always have something new going on here, things are always changing,” said Locker. The BCAM will be hosting its annual open house on Aug. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., admission is by donation. For more information on events at the museum, visit www.bcam.net.