History of CHAA
The Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association was born in 1985 at a small grass airstrip in Woodstock, Ontario from the dreams of a handful of Harvard lovers. They were determined to keep the legend of the Harvard and other training aircraft alive.
Among the founders was the late Norm Beckham, affectionately known as “Mr. Harvard”, Robert “Bob” Hewitt and Leonard Fallowfield. Bob is an ex-RCAF pilot who was a member of the Woodstock Flying Club. When he left the RCAF, he and his friend Norm joked about someday acquiring a Harvard, an aircraft Bob loved to fly. They knew of one (WPK) stored in a barn in nearby Norwich owned by an aircraft maintenance engineer by the name of Ray Craven. It took a couple of years of persuasion, but Ray finally gave in and sold it to Bob and Norm for $4100. After it was cleaned up and deemed airworthy, the boys were to retrieve the aircraft. However, the day they were to leave Woodstock to pick it up, Bob heard a Harvard coming in. It turns out Norm, who had not been checked out on a Harvard (and never was), flew it home himself – mind you, according to Bob, he was too afraid to retract the gear and made the flight with the gear down. Soon after their first acquisition, the association came to be.
It didn’t take long for the membership numbers to outgrow the Woodstock Flying Club facilities and a new location was needed. A hangar was acquired at the Tillsonburg Regional Airport. Today, two hangars and two portable buildings house 8 Harvards (2 under restoration), a Tiger Moth and a Yale along with service and maintenance equipment, parts and archives.
CHAA’s membership base is worldwide. However, a core group of volunteers from southwestern Ontario keeps the dream alive by giving their valuable time and sweat equity to an association they love. For that, we owe them a tremendous gratitude.
New members are always welcome to help CHAA tell the story of the sacrifices many made to maintain the freedoms we enjoy today.
In the words of Bob Hewitt – “Planes and hangars are material things. It’s the people of CHAA that make it so special.”