Aug. 30, 2004

Search for spare parts takes McMaster University archaeologists under water

McMaster Image

Participants in the Harvard recovery operation carry the magnetometer. Image courtesy of the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association.

Hamilton, ON - Fifty years ago on May 3, 2004, a Royal Canadian Air Force’s Harvard AJ538 crashed into the waters off Quebec Head, Wolfe Island, near Kingston. Now, members of the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association (CHAA) are attempting to locate the yellow single-engine trainer, and they’ve enlisted the help of McMaster University researchers in their search. Along with preserving history, searchers have a more basic goal in mind: obtaining spare parts to keep the remaining old Harvards flying.

Joe Boyce, an assistant professor and researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton, is working with members of the CHAA Dive Recovery Team on the quest. Boyce is using a marine magnetometer to improve the odds of their search.

Simply put by Boyce, a magnetometer is “a sensor that measures the strength of the earth’s magnetic field.” A change in the magnetic field signifies the presence of a piece of steel or iron—potentially, part of the missing Harvard.

Throughout the years of the Second World War, more than 137,000 aircrew from all corners of the globe came to Canada to earn their wings on the Harvard. Today, members of the CHAA maintain four Harvards. With the help of McMaster University researchers, the legendary Harvard will continue to soar.