Mavericks Takes Flight at Glenbow Museum
by Tanis Shortt, Communications Specialist
A full-scale replica of a 1919 Curtiss Jenny JN-4 aircraft has recently been completed for Glenbow Museum's new permanent gallery, Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta. Built by Calgarian Fred McCall, the son of Captain Fred McCall, the plane embodies the legendary high-altitude adventures of one of Alberta's maverick personalities.
In 1919, Captain Freddie McCall, a World War I flying ace and Canadian war hero, landed a plane on top of the rotating midway merry-go-round at the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. Known for performing stunt flying at fairs throughout the Prairie Provinces, this was one of McCall's most famous "landings" when, shortly after take off, with two young passengers on board, McCall's engine quit and he stalled the aircraft on the top of the carousel. Miraculously, no one was hurt, although the maypole protruded through the floor of the fabric-covered aircraft and came up right between the two boys!
Fred McCall is one of fifty Alberta personalities to be profiled in Glenbow Museum's new permanent Alberta history gallery, Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta. In 1929, he daringly flew, for the first time, nitro-glycerin and dynamite from Montana to Calgary for an oil-drilling operation. The high-altitude adventures of Fred McCall are what legends are made of. Decorated for his aerial fighting in the First World War and known as a commercial aviation pioneer in southern Alberta, local Calgarians will recognize his name from McCall Way and McCall Lake Golf Course in Calgary's northeast, which were named in honour of this daring aviator.
Fred McCall's son, also named Fred, has built a full-scale replica of this 1919 Curtiss Jenny JN-4 aircraft that his father landed on top of the Stampede merry-go-round which will be featured in the Mavericks gallery scheduled to open in February 2007. The framing stage has just been completed for the plane, taking approximately 4,000 volunteer hours to date. This stunning replica is currently being housed at the Springbank Airport as it is dismantled to be fabric-clad - the final stage of construction before gallery installation takes place in late summer 2006.
Based upon the book of the same title by Calgary-based writer and historian, Aritha Van Herk, Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta, Glenbow's new gallery will trace the legendary tales and colourful personalities who shaped and defined Alberta's history and who became the cornerstones of Alberta's maverick nature.