Crash memorial a personal project
By Jennifer O'Brien
Free Press Reporter
| Fifty years after a Canadian
fighter jet plunged into the bush near a Komoka farm, killing its pilot
and engineer, tobacco grower Mark Matthys and his family are still picking
up the pieces.
But today, on the anniversary of the crash that shook the ground of surrounding communities, the farmer has put aside his digging to remember the occupants of the CF-100 prototype, the first jet of its kind to crash.
In the woods beside his tobacco feilds, the farmer has planted a wooden cross in tribute to Royal Canadian Air Force pilot Flight Leut. Bruce Warren of Toronto and Avro engineer Robert Ostrander of Brampton - both killed in the crash on April 5,1951.
"I just wanted to do something to commemorate the pilot and to show some respect for him," Matthys said standing beside several cartons of plane debris he and of his family have discovered with the help of a metal detector.
"If he was your grandfather - and he was so willing to serve the country -. wouldn't you want something done to remember him?"
Warren, one of Canada's top test pilots when he died at 28, left behind his wife, Lois, son, Douglas (who now has two daughters) and a twin
|brother, Doug Warren, also an award-winning
So far, little seems to have been done to remember the test pilot.
"It looks like this is the first public memorial in this case," said Capt. James Pickett, historian at air force headquarters in Winnipeg. "I don't remember hearing about this particular crash.
But he said that's not unusual. "There were so many crashes during that time, because planes were getting faster and more powerful and there was a lot of testing going on."
The plane, No. 18102, was the second of 692 CF-100s to be built. The aircraft could travel at speeds of 890 kilometres an hour and fly as
high as 45,000 feet. It went down during a test flight for Avro Canada, which may factor into the lack of memorial, services for Warren, said Pickett.
"He was testing for Avro, so he didn't belong to a squadron at the time," he said, adding that Warren would have been a top choice as a test pilot because he had attended a pilots' academy in England.
Investigators blamed a failure in the oxygen supply for the accident. The problem would have caused Warren to pass out and lose control of the plane, which then took a 38,000-foot nosedive.
"It was, and it still is, very traumatic for me," said Doug Warren of his twin's death.
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