A replica World War I aircraft has recently been installed above the departures lounge. The plane is a 7/8th scale Nieuport 11, built and flown by local aviation enthusiast Captain David Freeman, prior to the 100th Anniversary of the historic battle of Vimy Ridge. Captain Freeman started his career flying to local coastal communities, and asked that the Comox Base unit badge, featuring the Kwakiutl Thunderbird, and motto bestowed by local First Nations, “Ai Quanesut”, from the Pentlatch language meaning “By Vigilance Prepared” be emblazoned on the plane. The original design was created in consultation with K’ómoks Chief Andy Frank, and Chief Mungo Martin in the early 1960’s, a few years before Captain Freeman was born.
Sadly, David passed away in October, but his wish to see the contributions of First Nations, and those of all Canadian Veterans honoured lives on through the installation. The design was recreated by Chief Mungo Martin’s great-grandson, Hereditary Chief “walas `Namugwis” David Mungo Knox, and now embellishes the aircraft, along with a dedication to Captain David Freeman.
“Although we are saddened by his loss, we are grateful for the gift of this beautiful aircraft. His wish to showcase both Canadian aviation history and the contributions of the K’ómoks First Nation in a collaborative effort is commendable.” says acting airport CEO Alex Robertson.
To celebrate David’s contribution, and that of dozens of volunteers, a dedication event featuring a K’ómoks First Nation Welcome and Blessing Ceremony followed by presentations by local dignitaries will be held at the airport on Wednesday evening. A storyboard display detailing the project will be created and installed for public display at a future date.