A new exhibition at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada explores the history of Canadian-made water bombers — known as “super-scoopers” by those in the business of fighting forest fires.
Built originally by Canadair in the 1960s and now in Montreal by Bombardier, the strikingly painted yellow and red aircraft are sold around the world.
“It’s a great Canadian success story,” said Paul Balcaen, the museum’s exhibits co-ordinator. “Canada makes the world’s best water bombers, and pilots love them. They’re very agile.”
Bombardier’s CL415 can scoop up more than 6,000 litres of water in 12 seconds.
“This plane can actually skim on a river at about 100 miles an hour, swerve around boulders and submerged trees, and pick up water at the same time,” Balcaen said. “A pilot can do several pickups and drops per hour — it’s quite amazing.”
The exhibition “Ready for Action!” includes scale models, photographs and videos. And if museum-goers are lucky, they’ll see the real thing parked on the tarmac outside.
The museum is located beside Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport and next to the Manitoba Government Air Services facility, which services the super-scoopers. In summer the planes are based in Gimli, Man.
“There are two outside right now being serviced,” Balcaen said Wednesday. “I’m hoping they’ll be here for another week or so, but there’s no guarantee.”
“Ready for Action!” opens Friday and will run for about a year.