Sounds of big band music poured out of the open hangar door at Victoria Air Maintenance Saturday evening and the prominent wingspan and fuselage of a Second World War-era Canso jutted out from the space.
Dancers were cutting rugs inside the hangers, decorated with a parachute, cam netting and yet another aircraft. Walking past military jeeps and other vehicles and additional aircraft, you might have felt transported back in time to the 1940s.
Dressed in air force regalia, the band leader for the Victoria big band The Commodores, evoked the era of the Glenn Miller Orchestra and dancers wore dresses, shoes, ties and suits reminiscent of wartime.
It was all for the second annual Hanger Dance, hosted by the Catalina Preservation Society. They’re the people looking after the restoration of the Catalina (or Canso) flying boat that resides at the Victoria airport in North Saanich. Owned by North Saanich’s Bob Dyck, the plane is flying again and is decked out in the decals and paint job that pilots would have seen while it was stationed at the Pat Bay Air Station during the Second World War. Of course, the air station is now known at the Victoria International Airport.
The Society raises money to keep the Caso in the air and visiting local and international air shows, where it’s a unique and popular attraction. This particular aircraft, built in 1943, was stationed at Pat Bay and used as a long range anti-submarine observation and patrol plane. It would later be refitted for search and rescue, cargo and finally, as a water bomber. Dyck bought it from Buffalo Air in 2010 and he and the Society has been bringing it back to its original state ever since.
The Hanger Dance is a big fundraiser for the Society and, judging by the many people at the event, it is becoming quite the popular one.