HARVARD B A C K S E A T I N A Adventure is as close as your own backyard

A t 90 years of age, there isn’t much Verne Reynolds hasn’t done in life. But this past Victoria Day weekend, the long-time Tillson- burg resident added a new experi- ence to his expansive collection. Cheered on by his wife of 65 years, Jean, and a group of nearly 20 well- wishers at Tillsonburg Regional Air- port, Reynolds buckled the straps on his parachute and climbed into the back seat of a Harvard. The in- tended flight path? A half hour sce- nic trip through Tillsonburg, down to Port Burwell and back again. “I’ve always wanted to go up in one of these,” Reynolds said excited- ly prior to the flight. “My son gave me a gift certificate for my birthday in March and I’ve been looking for- ward to this moment ever since.” With less than 50 airworthy Har-

vards left in Canada, the opportu- nity to fly in one of the iconic yellow warbirds is a rare treat indeed— whether as a pilot or a passenger. Notoriously hard to control, the Harvard was the most successful advanced training aircraft of the World War II era. Thousands of Brit- ish Commonwealth pilots cut their teeth on one before moving on to more nimble fighters like the Hur- ricane, Spitfire and Mustang. While many of the old planes have been lost or fallen into disre- pair over the years, the Tillsonburg Airport-based Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association (CHAA) is on a quest to “keep ‘em flying.” “CHAA exists to preserve, re- store, maintain, display and demon- strate the Harvard and other aircraft associated with the Royal Canadian

Air Force,” says CHAA president Pat Hanna. “And thanks to the re- markable passion and dedication of our volunteers, we’ve been pretty successful at doing that.” From humble beginnings back in 1985, CHAA has become one of the fastest-growing air associations in Canada. The Association now boasts 700+ members, owns two hangars at Tillsonburg Regional Airport and has successfully restored six Har- vards to flying condition. Other aircraft in the Association’s fleet include a Yale, a Tiger Moth and two additional Harvards still undergoing restoration work. “They used to say, ‘If you can learn to fly a Harvard, you can learn to fly anything,’ and it’s absolutely true,” says CHAA Chief Operations Officer and Reynolds’ pilot for the


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