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

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

submitted
Betty-Anne Faulkner is a true legend of the Pretty Estates

Now known as the Sandpiper Resort, the area in Harrison Mills was once the Pretty Estates

Harrison Hot Springs is currently undergoing a housing needs assessment, to see where the community is lacking and what its specific needs are. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer) [Harrison Hot Springs 2019]
REAL ESTATE: Finding the right property in a low inventory market

Real estate columnist Freddy Marks shares how buyers can make the most of a low inventory market

Sasquatch Mountain Resort. (Paul Henderson/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Let’s keep funds from hotel tax in the Hemlock Valley

Accommodation providers Kevin Sass and Wendy Cherry share their thoughts on a possible MRDT

The slide on the east side of Harrison Lake came down on Wednesday, Jan. 13. 2021 off Mt. Breakenridge. (Screenshot/Tery Kozma video)
Harrison Lake landslide prompts investigation, discussion after brief tsunami concern

The January slide saw a small amount of soil come off the side of Mt. Breakenridge

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

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

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Passengers aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, 1914 - Library and Archives Canada image
Abbotsford council is asked to rename street in memory of Komagata Maru victims

Most of 376 the passengers aboard ship were denied entry into Canada in 1914

Most Read