Aviation History at Moncton Airport

Story and photos by John Chalmers,
CAHS Membership Secretary

When flying to New Brunswick on September 14, I landed at Moncton’s Roméo LeBlanc International Airport to rent a car for the drive north to Miramichi in order to attend a celebration of the famed RCAF Golden Hawks. The aerobatic team’s first home was nearby at the site of former RCAF Station Chatham, now home to Miramichi Airport. But after getting the key to my car and being directed to the elevator for the underground parking garage, I was pleasantly surprised!

01 Sign

Near the elevator and next to a staircase leading to the upper level of the terminal is a sign inviting visitors to see the exhibit in the Don McClure Aviation Gallery at the top of the stairs, where this overhead sign is suspended.

02 Gallery

How pleased I was to see what the Turnbull New Brunswick Chapter of the CAHS has done! In 2003, the chapter partnered with the airport to create the display gallery and highlight aviation history in the Maritimes. The gallery is named for Don McClure (1923-2008), who was born in Moncton and inducted as a Member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 2002. McClure’s induction citation reads: “His outstanding dedication to the advancement of flight training, coupled with his tireless efforts to teach and inspire the youth of Canada through the Air Cadet League, have been of major benefit to Canadians.”

16 DC 3

The image on the front of the first display case depicts a Douglas DC-3 of Maritime Central Airways flying over Hillsborough Bridge at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

03 Corner display

A corner display in the gallery features photos, documents and plaques on the walls, and a case houses memorabilia connected to aviation history.


This display case accommodates items related to the Royal Canadian Air Force, with a squadron leader’s uniform bearing pilot’s wings, a ribbon of the Distinguished Flying Cross and other ribbons representing medals of the Second World War.

05 Wall panels

Five wall panels commemorate important aviation figures who were born in New Brunswick or have close ties to aviation in the province. All are Members of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame and are depicted in portrait sketches by the late Irma Coucill, who created over 200 such images for the Hall. Left to right are New Brunswick aviation pioneer Walt Fowler; Wallace Turnbull, for whom the CAHS New Brunswick chapter is named; Al Lilly; Claude Taylor; and Don McClure, for whom the gallery is named.

06 Mosquito

A model of a de Havilland Mosquito, an important fighter-bomber of the Second World War, is one of several aircraft models hanging above the exhibits.

07 Battle of Britain

This display panel honours seven pilots from New Brunswick who flew in the epic Battle of Britain in 1940 during the Second World War. 

08 Panorama

A panoramic photo of early aviation and a timeline of aircraft development from 1909 to 2002 are among the wall displays.

09 TCA

Displays in the gallery are related to both military and civil aviation. This display case houses uniforms and artifacts of Trans-Canada Air Lines.

10 Photos

Display cases in the gallery feature historic aviation photos on the backs and ends of the cases.

11 Anson

One of the aircraft in a display case is a “Faithful Annie,” an Avro Anson, widely used during the Second World War to train navigators, and to train pilots on multi-engine aircraft at stations in Canada of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

12 Moncton

This photo on the back of a display case depicts a Fairchild Cornell at the Moncton Flying Club, an aircraft used for training pilots in civil and military flying programs.

13 Uniforms

Both battle dress and mess kit uniforms of the RCAF are preserved in this display case.

14 York

This photo on the back of a display case shows Avro York CF-HMU of Maritime Central Airways, on the apron of wartime RCAF No. 8 Service Flying Training School at Lakeburn, New Brunswick, circa 1949. The York was a transport aircraft derived from the famous and much better known Avro Lancaster bomber, likewise powered by four Merlin V-12 liquid cooled engines.

15 John

Digital cameras were invented for taking selfies! So here I am at the Don McClure Aviation Gallery prepared by the New Brunswick Chapter of the CAHS. The photo in the background shows Don McClure with a de Havilland DH 60 Gipsy Moth, 1941.

Seeing the exhibits provided a fine start to my New Brunswick visit. The Don McClure Aviation Gallery is an outstanding example of what the Canadian Aviation Historical Society can do in partnering with an appropriate public venue to provide visitors with opportunity to learn about our aviation heritage. “Don McClure was manager and owner of the Moncton Flying Club, as well as being an important aviation figure in New Brunswick. He preceded me as president of our chapter,” says current president Jim Sulis, “and was a driving force behind creating the display. It was appropriate to name the gallery after him.”

For more information about the New Brunswick CAHS chapter, see