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

Vernon-Monashee NDP MLA Harwinder Sandhu. (Contributed)
Vernon MLA marks International Women’s Day with first in-person legislature appearance

Harwinder Sandhu to speak in local panel hosted by CFUW later tonight

Vernon’s Zach Anderson, who now resides in Perth, Australia, has raised awareness and more than $6,400 for the #SickNotWeak charity in regards to depression in honour of friend Justin Mitchell’s late father, Glenn, the former managing editor of the Morning Star. Anderson finished an event in Perth called 4 x 4 x 48, which meant running four miles every four hours for 48 hours. (Zach Anderson photo)
Vernon runner completes gruelling Aussie event in honour of friend’s father

Zach Anderson raised funds and depression awareness in memory of Glenn Mitchell

Community Foundation North Okanagan is now accepting applications for its annual Smart and Caring Community Grants program. (CFNO photo)
Cash available for North Okanagan non-profits

Community Foundation North Okanagan seeks applicants for its annual Smart and Caring Grants program

The current B.C. Men’s curling champions, Rick Sawatsky (Vernon and now living and working in Kelowna, from left), Andrew Nerpin (Kelowna), Jim Cotter (Vernon) and Steve Laycock (Saskatoon), have yet to find the win column at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary. (Black Press - file photo)
B.C. looking for Brier victory

Team B.C. falls to 0-2 Sunday, March 7, with 10-7 loss to Wild Card 1 entry from Manitoba

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Five Kelowna writers are featured in an anthology that launched in time for International Women's Day. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
International Women’s Day: Book exploring fears features Kelowna writers

The book has launched in time for International Women’s Day

A group of men pose for a photo at the Griffin Lake internment camp. (Submitted)
Volunteers wanted to help commemorate internment camps in Shuswap

There were six camps along the Highway 1 cooridor between Sicamous and Revelstoke.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Carson Meikle prepares a hot beverage while his mother, Jenna Meikle, is busy in the background at The Night Cafe, located at 146 Lakeshore Drive. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Artistic Shuswap entrepreneurs branch into culinary arts with The Night Café

Adam and Jenna Meikle grateful for ongoing community support

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover digging in with B.C.-made part

Kennametal’s Langford plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Most Read