A replica of the fire was brought back to the roof of the ANAVETS building located at 46th Avenue in 2011. Glen Fletcher stands on the elevator while Randy Lundman watches from the roof.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the installation of a replica Spitfire atop the Vernon Army, Navy, and Air Force Veterans Club building on 46th Street.
ANAVETS is Canada’s oldest veterans association. It is believed to have been established in 1840, with the first unit in Montreal. Meanwhile, ANAF Unit No. 5 has served the Vernon area since 1971.
In the 1980s, the unit approached the Department of National Defense to purchase a real Spitfire, but could not afford the $90,000 cost. The Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft used during and after World War II. Today, the spitfire is still popular with enthusiasts, with about 70 still in operation worldwide.
Although ANAF No. 5 was unable to obtain an original shot, they were determined to see it “fly” over Vernon and set out to create an exact replica. The model was designed by Jack Brasch, Glenn Fletcher, and Doug MacNicol, and construction began in 1992.
In 1993, the scale replica was completed, measuring 31 feet from nose to tail. A dummy, named Jackson Glenn, after two of the three original contributors, was installed in the front seat. This fake pilot is allegedly so real that he got into a one-sided conversation with his flight attendant, Vernon, while sitting on the back porch of Glenn Fletcher’s home before being put on board.
According to ANAF Unit Handbook #5, the letters and numbers on the form were taken from a fire log commissioned by veteran Vernon Philip Bodnarchuk. Bodnarchuk served as a pilot in the RCAF during World War II. Although he was shot three times, he survived until his release and died at the age of 79 in 1996.
In 2010 it was discovered that the Vernon Fire had been damaged by rock-throwing vandals which allowed water to enter the form. The damage was so great that it had to be completely rebuilt, including the dummy pilot Jackson Glenn.
Randy Lundman assisted Glenn Fletcher, then 74, with the task, which took the two men 11 months. Finally, in August 2011, the replica returned to its rightful place on top of the ANAVETS building.
Gwen Evans is the Director of Archives at the Vernon Archives and Museum.