A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A large piece of Canadian military history is moving from Chilliwack to Vancouver Island, where it will find a new home in the B.C. Aviation Museum.

But it will be no small feat getting the Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft to its destination.

Moving the massive airplane is a logistical challenge that will include a tow truck, an RCMP escort and eventually, a barge.

The whole thing is going to be filmed by the same Discovery Channel crews that work on the hit series ‘Highway Thru Hell,’ and the footage will be turned into a TV show in the not-too-distant future.

“Aggressive Towing are the ones that do a lot of the heavy towing on the Coquihalla that you see on that show, and they’re the ones who will be moving the Tracker once it gets dark on Saturday night (Jan. 23),” said Dean Fraser from the Canadian Military Education Centre (CMEC). “It will be a big job. The wheel base alone is 16 or 17 feet. The whole aircraft from left to right is 26 or 27 feet, and it’s about 17-1/2 feet tall.”

RELATED: Chilliwack Military Museum opens its new doors in the heart of downtown

“We’re going to have power tools to cut some street signs as we go, and we’ll weld them back together afterwards. We’ve notified Telus and Shaw and we’ll have flagging crews that are watching for traffic at each intersection that it goes through.”

They will have seven hours, from 11 p.m. Jan. 23 to 6 a.m. Jan. 24, to move it.

The Tracker is going to be towed straight down Keith Wilson Road. It’ll hang a right on Lickman, take the overpass over the freeway and then head along Industrial Way to the Westview Lumber yard.

That’s where it will spend the rest of the winter before moving on to Victoria in the spring.

“When the water level is high enough, the guys from the B.C. Aviation Museum have a barge and a tug lined up, and it’ll be sent over to the Island,” Fraser said.

RELATED: Sappers preserve piece of Chilliwack’s military history

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

For years, this airplane was displayed near the Vedder Bridge. Visitors to the CMEC gawked at its massive near-70 foot wingspan and marvelled at the way its wings could fold up, like arms reaching 30 feet into the air.

It symbolized Chilliwack’s deep military heritage. Veterans reminisced about it’s heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was primarily deployed as an anti-submarine aircraft. The CMEC had tanks too, and lots of other memorabilia, but the Tracker was the centerpiece of the museum.

Then it lost its spot.

Around five years ago, the CMEC was forced to vacate when the Canada Border Services Agency moved in.

The Tracker was moved to the RCMP compound and then to a parking lot on the University of the Fraser Valley campus and there it’s been the last two years.

“We were recently given notice that we have six months to get it off the premises, or it’s going to be scrapped,” Fraser noted. “We don’t have any other place to put it.”

The CMEC is sad to see it go, but happy to see it going to a place where it will be put to good use.

“They can get it taxiing and idling for shows, probably by the summertime, if they put their elbow-grease to it,” Fraser said. “It is flyable, and it’s going to a group like us that wants to preserve history. They have guys who’ve actually worked on aircraft like this. It’s not going to be sitting on a pedestal somewhere. They’re going to take it and do something with it, so it’s going to the best home possible.”

—————-

Everything else that was once displayed at the CMEC site is still in storage, and the organization would welcome the chance to bring a couple tanks and other items out of mothballs.

“If there was an empty building somewhere, we’d love to start the museum up again for the public,” Fraser said.

Phone Fraser at 778-955-9111 if you might be able to help.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

@ProgressSports
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

chilliwackMilitary

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alycia Weir (left) and Helena Oosthoek (right) of the Golden Family Center stand outside of the GFC building at their Bell Lets Talk stand last February. They are currently raising funds to help support their drop-in counselling program. (Claire Palmer photo)
Family center fundrasing for free counselling program

It’s important to have accesible care in the community

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)
Okanagan owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coldstream resident warns against the use of rodenticide due to risk of secondary poisoning in raptors

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Fire ripped through a mobile home on Boucherie Road in West Kelowna on March. 6. (Phil McLachlan - West Kelowna News)
‘My whole life just went up in smoke’; Fire consumes Okanagan mobile home

RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries due to the fire

Most Read