Air Force vets send out mayday call
LONDON, ONT. -- Yet another London area organization which supports veterans could become the next casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. This time it’s the 427 Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association that’s sending out a mayday call.
Sputtering along and soon to be running out of fuel, the club could be permanently grounded, worries Gus Cameron, who chairs the 427 Wing board of directors.
"We’re not destitute. We’ve done pretty well up to this point, but it’s getting to the time where it’s overtaking us."
Closed as a result of COVID-19, the 427 Wing has no money coming in. Cameron says normally it would be hosting weekly lunches and renting out space, not to mention museum tours.
"We’re keeping our costs down as much as we can, but we’re not providing any food on Friday lunches. We’re not able to raise money doing tours and so on. It’s been difficult."
The building, on Crumlin Sideroad, was built in 1939-1940. It was part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Program during WWII. It is believed to be the last building of its kind in south-western Ontario.
In addition to the association, the building houses the Secrets of Radar Museum, along with the Spirit of Flight Aviation Museum.
Currently, the 427 wing has about 130 members, many of them veterans. They’re active in the community raising funds for youth groups like air cadets, many who go on to serve in the Canadian armed forces.
"I worry," says London Fanshawe MP Lindsay Mathyssen.
The New Democrat, a member herself, is calling on the federal government to help the 427 Wing. "This is a place for veterans to come together to have that social space but also that preservation of so much history, not just for London but for Canada. And I am really concerned that this will be lost. The revenues aren’t there."
The 427 Wing has started an online fundraising campaign at canadaelps.org. Those who wish to donate can do so on their website.