Grade 10 Trip to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum

Grade 10 students engaged in a very interesting and informative visit to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, located in John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, in Mount Hope, to enrich their study of Canadian History, on Thursday, October 26th. The chaperoning teachers were Mrs. Bysice and Mr. Katsouras, and the excursion was thoroughly enjoyed by students and staff alike.

The program commenced with our very own Joshua C invited to wear a World War II Supermarine Spitfire combat pilot’s uniform. This acted as the prelude for a Battle of Britain simulation. Using input from radar stations and the Royal Observer Corps, students manually plotted incoming enemy aircraft on an 8×8’ map representing the south east coast of England in late 1939 and early 1940. As the battle plot unfolded, students determined how to best allocate precious aircraft resources to combat a numerically superior invading force.

This was followed by a metal work activity that demonstrated how women (and men too) contributed to the war effort, through the sheet metal construction of military aircraft during World War II. The story of Rosie the Riveter was presented. Students were shown how to temporarily fasten sheet metal to an aircraft frame using temporary rivets called Clecos. Actual aircraft parts were used.

A look at teenage life during the war years was subsequently examined. Students were surprised by examples of food products in use during the war when rationing was in place. Students essentially learned how people strived to lead a healthy life despite food shortages. In addition, they were asked to consider what teenagers would have gone through, when they were taken from their families and shipped off to a stranger’s house. Students were asked to decide what they would take with them, considering that they would be absent from their homes for up to 5 years; all this in the equivalent of a small backpack.

The final activity pertained to codes and ciphers. Students were invited to send a secret message to spies behind enemy lines using Morse Code technology. Actual encoding devices were used. Other wartime communication coding technologies were demonstrated as well.

Throughout the excursion numerous aircraft were viewed including the Avro Lancaster, the Supermarine Spitfire, and the Douglas DC3 Dakota. Of particular interest was the opportunity to actually visit the interior of a de Havilland Buffalo! Overall, the trip was a great learning experience, largely due to our wonderfully knowledgeable and kind guide, Mary.

Mr. Katsouras & Mrs. Bysice – Chisholm History Teachers