Few Winnipeggers remember the dramatic story of Winnipeg RCAF pilot Fl/Lt William McKenzie, Canada’s first jet pilot, who almost 70 years ago lived through an ordeal when his new Gloster Meteor jet fighter ran out of fuel over northern Ontario on a June flight to North Bay.
Forced to ditch the aircraft in a lake, McKenzie spent 26 days without food, survival gear and shelter, unable to call for help. While he waited beside the lake for a rescue, authorities back home called off the search after eight days – declaring him dead.
This exhibit tells the story of his life-and-death struggle after the crash in the Canadian Shield and how he lived to tell the tale. It also includes a brief look at one of the world’s first jet fighters – the Gloster Meteor – and at Canada’s early jet age and the jet fighters that defended our nation.