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'We should be thankful': New exhibit at Calgary military museums highlights the first 100 years of the RCAF


April 1 marks the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

In Calgary, the Air Force Museum of Alberta marked the occasion by opening a new exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary of the RCAF.

Located in the Founders’ Gallery at Calgary’s Military Museums, the People of Canada’s Air Force: 100 Years exhibit honours the men and women in who wore the RCAF uniform over the last century.

Curator Alison Mercer says she wants people to know that while many were heroes, they were more often ordinary people who behaved extraordinarily in exceptional circumstances.

“The tenacity and the commitment and the skill of everyone that I've researched here over the years, over this past 100 years, it’s just incomparable,” Mercer said.

Honorary Col. Andrew Abbott of the 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron, based in Cold Lake, Alta., said as the RCAF enters its second hundred years, it remains as important as it ever was in securing our country’s sovereignty.

“I think that the Air Force will stand the test of time. I think we will have an inspiring group of next-generation Canadians as part of the Air Force. And that could mean pilots, or people actually operating drones (that) are flying into space,” said Abbott.

“We should be thankful to them, they operate 24/7 taking care of the defence of Canada, (for example) The Search and Rescue aspect of actually making sure Canadians stay safe. You know, we take for granted, I think. Our Air Force is there for us all the time, and it's pretty special."

Following the exhibit opening at the military museum, The RCAF flag was raised in front of Calgary’s City Hall.

That was followed by the flypast of an RCAF aircraft known as The Gonzo. The Gonzo is a heavily modified De Havilland Dash 8 modified to meet Department of National Defence (DND) requirements.

A 100-year legacy

The Royal Canadian Air Force was born out of the RAF (Royal Air Force) in WWI when Canadian aviators flew alongside the British against the Germans.

It was comprised of a full-time permanent force, a part-time non-permanent force and a reserve of non-active personnel.

The RCAF first saw action 16 years later in an air battle against the Nazi Luftwaffe, in WWII.

“In times of war and peace, members of the RCAF have shown unwavering courage. The Second World War marked the first significant challenge for the RCAF, with over 200,000 Canadians joining the Air Force to fight against tyranny and fascism,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement commemorating the 100th anniversary.

“Since then, generation after generation of Canadians have served – from Afghanistan to the Arctic.

“As we continue to face threats to global stability, the RCAF is more important than ever.” Top Stories

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