On Sunday, Feb. 14, museum president Bruce Friesen said that day was fully subscribed and he expected Monday slots would all be filled up in short order.
“Last year, we had about 1,200 visitors (for Family Day weekend),” Friesen told the Langley Advance Times.
“This year, we’ll be lucky if we see more than 100.”
And it was snowing outside, adding a small dusting of flakes to the aircraft displayed outside the museum.
In the outdoor exhibition area, Suhani Gupta from Burnaby was fascinated by the vintage aircraft, while her mother was more interested in getting to the indoor exhibits, where the museum furnace had been turned don.
“It’s cold,” mom said, shivering.
As part of the museum’s COVID-19 precautions, only small groups were being allowed in at a time, mostly families who were in each other’s bubble.
A roped-off pathway and arrow markers guided the visitors through the outdoor display and into the interior along a one-way route.
“We had to give a lot of thought to making sure our visitors felt safe,” Friesen explained.
Inside the museum had managed to find room in an already crowded exhibition space to show off a prize acquisition, the fuselage of a Boeing Stearman.
And not just any Stearman. The biplane with the bright yellow wings was operated from the Langley airport by Skyway Air Services in the 1950s and ‘60s.
Skyway founder, Art Seller, flew it himself.
Kept in storage by the family with only brief periods of activity in recent years, it was donated by Seller’s son David.
“We’re delighted to have this aircraft,” Friesen enthused.
The free admission Family Day weekend was made possible by a grant from the provincial government.
Anyone who couldn’t get in for the free visits can still view the exhibits as admission-paying customers during regular opening hours — Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
The Museum at Langley Airport, Hangar 3, is accessed off 216th Street on Airport Way and takes bookings by phone at 604-532-0035.
During the pandemic, the museum is requiring masks at all times on site for all staff and visitors over the age of six.
The museum and restoration site houses over 25 aircraft ranging from a WWII Handley Page Hampden to a T-33 Silver Star.
Flight-worthy aircraft include the Stearman, a Fleet Finch, Tiger Moth, SE5A replica, Waco AQC Cabin, Fleet Canuck and a Harvard II.
The museum has been fund-raising to build a new, roomier facility nearby on a 1.6-acre site in the 21300 block of Fraser Highway, next to the Derek Doubleday Arboretum.
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