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Gander's Aviation Works of Art

by J. Pinsent

One of the most impressive piece of art work at Gander is the mural at the Gander International Terminal painted on site by artist Kenneth Lochhead plus the Birds of Welcome bronze sculpture by Arthur Price. Both items can be viewed in the International lounge area. Not to be out done, is the mural depicting the iconic Administration building in the Domestic departure lounge.  The view shows Gander airport in it’s early stages. A similar mural is depicted on the Gander Arts & Culture Centre in the town. Then there is the model of Gander, made out of wood, constructed by Richard Sinclair, at the North Atlantic Aviation Museum in Gander.

Other works of art, overlooked by many, are the 5 sculptures in the town depicting the airports history in a symbolic modern artistic sort of way. Particularly in understanding their significance in how they portray events in the airports past that has contributed to its world wide fame. The GAHS takes the liberty in giving their interpretation as nonprofessional critics of art.

Our first is the sculpture in the town square, a rendition of the Fox Moth which was the first aircraft to land at Gander on January 11, 1938, prior to the airport being officially opened. Not a great event but signifies the start of the airport’s future.

Fox Moth

The second is the artistic image of the Hudson bomber, the first type of aircraft that successfully crossed the North Atlantic in 1940.  Located at where Magee Road joins the Trans Canada Highway. This event led to the formation of RAF Ferry Command and the ferrying of thousands of aircraft out of Gander to England. This war effort is said to have contributed to the shortening of WWII if not assisting in winning the war.

Hudson Bomber

Next we have the Helicopter where Magee Road joins the Road to the Shore  (H330), better known locally as the Gander Bay Road.  The helicopter was first in the world to be used in a civilian rescue, at Gander in 1946. This aircraft, operated by the USCG to rescue survivors from the Sabena airline crash, resulted in the USCG adopting the helicopter as a  rescue vehicle. In addition the helicopter was responsible for the rescue of 35 survivors of the Czechoslovakian airline crash in 1967. The helicopter rescue mission was operated by Austin Garrett who was awarded the OBE from QEII. Not to forget SAR at Gander has rescued hundreds with the helicopter.

Helicopter

Then we have the Seaplane, located on the corner of Fraser Rd. and Balbo St. During WWII the seaplane was utilized by the military as a SAR vehicle. In the post war era the seaplane has been used to deliver mail, goods and the transportion of patients requiring emergency care to the hospital at Gander. This service, operated by EPA, eventually led to the startup of the most successful airlines in eastern Canada.

Seaplane

Last we have the Concorde on the corner of the Trans Canada Highway and Cobham St. The Concorde used Gander airport as the North American base for testing the transatlantic operating procedures prior to becoming operational as a passenger carrier. The airport was also the Concord’s main alternate to JFK airport after becoming operational. The sculpture also portrays the development of future aircraft.

Concorde


These art works have never been given the publicity it deserves. Nor has the story of their original placement and the artists involved.

submitted by J. Pinsent

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