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

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

Sylvain Fabi, Canada’s chief negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty, joined a number of government and Indigenous government stakeholders for a virtual town hall on Feb. 24, 2021, to update the state of the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. Trevor Crawley photo/Zoom screenshot
Indigenous input key to Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Ecosystem function included in negotiations along with flood management and power generation priorities

The area of the East Kootenay under a special avalanche warning. Submitted
Avalanche Canada issues special warning for southern Rockies

Northern Rockies also under special avalanche warning

Pictured is a Young Agrarians farm tour at Wloka Farmstand in Creston. Note: this photo was taken before the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted File)
Land in short supply for new farmers in southeast B.C.

Young Agrarians hopes to match new farmers with land owners in the area

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
MY COVID STORY: From doctor to patient

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Most Read