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Vampire pavillion rising on Vancouver Island to preserve military history

Groundbreaking held in Comox in anticipation of Royal Canadian Air Force centennial in 2024
Dignitaries and former and current military members gathered July 20 for an official groundbreaking ceremony for the Vampire Pavillion in Comox. From left to right: HCol. Robert Quartermain, project lead Dave Mellin, North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney, Col. (Ret’d) Sid Burrows, 19 Wing Comm. Col. J. P. Gagnon, 19 Wing Chief Warrant Officer Donald Farr and Vampire Pavilion committee lead Maj. Kevin Stevens. Photo by Erin Haluschak/Black Press

Members of 19 Wing Comox and the Comox Valley Air Force Museum are taking the next steps to mark the centennial of the Royal Canadian Air Force in 2024 with a very special display.

On July 20, a special groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Comox Heritage Airpark for the future Vampire Pavillion.

The goal is to bring the aircraft back into public display at the park on Military Row with the construction of a pavilion to house the Vampire, as the aircraft is primarily constructed of wood.

In 1948, the Air Force purchased 85 Vampires that were primarily assigned to auxiliary squadrons, and served the RCAF for 10 years. The Vampire never actually flew in Comox, however, its affiliation is with 442 Squadron (Transport and Rescue Squadron at 19 Wing) which initially flew out of Sea Island – now known as Vancouver International Airport prior to moving to its current location.

In December 1945, the Vampire became the first jet to operate from an aircraft carrier, the HMS Ocean, and a few years later in 1948, it set the world altitude record of 59,500 feet. That same year in July, it became the first jet to fly the Atlantic crossing from the United Kingdom to Goose Bay, N.L. By the early 1950s, it had been determined that Vampires had been outstripped by newer jet aircraft, and by 1958, the Vampires were replaced by F-86 Sabres.

The goal is to raise $1.5 million for the construction of the pavilion to house the Vampire, and project team member Dave Mellin said fundraising efforts are nearly halfway toward their goal.

19 Wing Honorary Colonel (HCol) Robert Quartermain also spoke at the groundbreaking event and said he would match donations from the public up to $50,000.

For more information or to donate to the project, visit or stop by the Comox Air Force Museum on Military Row in Comox adjacent to the entry to CFB Comox.

READ ALSO: Comox Vampire preserving military history for air force centennial celebration

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Fastest aircraft to serve Canadian Forces en route to North Saanich

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Erin Haluschak

About the Author: Erin Haluschak

Erin Haluschak is a journalist with the Comox Valley Record since 2008. She is also the editor of Trio Magazine...
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