Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum welcomes former RAF Chipmunk

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ont., had a special visitor on the weekend: a T.10 Chipmunk that formerly served with the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Richard G. Wilsher flies his T.10 Chipmunk (foreground), which formerly served with the Royal Air Force, with a former Royal Canadian Air Force Chipmunk from Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Eric Dumigan Photo
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Richard G. Wilsher owns and flies the aircraft and is touring North America to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the RAF.

This aircraft was built in 1952 and survived over 33,000 landings with the RAF, finishing its military career with 4 AEF (Air Experience Flight), giving experience flights to air cadets.

The airframe was one of two the RAF used to establish a route for small aircraft from Europe to North America through Russia. The Chipmunks were chosen as they could be operated with minimum ground support.

With a 24-gallon (90.8-litre) fuel tank mounted in lieu of the rear seat, the Chipmunks had a range of 500 miles (805 kilometres).

Two Chipmunks departed RAF College Cranwell and travelled east across the Baltic states and Russia to the Bering Strait, then Alaska and across Canada.

The flight crossed the North Atlantic via Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. The circumnavigation of the Northern Hemisphere took 64 days and covered 16,000 miles (25,750 kilometres).

Earlier this year, Wilsher, who has owned the Chipmunk since 2010, flew it from his home base in California to the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center for the Great British Fly-In that took place on April 15.

Having flown 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometres) to Washington, D.C., Wilsher decided to make a “Trans-Continental Loop,” rather than turning around and going straight back to California.

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The CWHM attended the Great British Fly-In with its Avro Lancaster, so he decided one of his stops would be Hamilton, Ont., to see his friends from the museum.

The next few weeks will take him toward Oshkosh, Wis., where the Chipmunk will take part in a salute to the Royal Air Force’s 100th anniversary at EAA AirVenture 2018.

On June 9, 2018, the CWHM organized an air-to-air shoot with the museum’s ex-Royal Canadian Air Force Chipmunk 18035, flown by Rick Rickards; and WP833, flown by Wilsher.

The photo ship was the CWHM Fairchild Cornell Mk. II, flown by Tery Lebel.

On June 10, Rickards and Wilsher took WP883 into Downsview, Ont., home of the de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk, on a pilgrimage flight.

The aircraft had previously visited Downsview during the ‘around the world’ Chipmunk flight.

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