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Hidden gem: 22 Wing Museum of Aerospace Defence

Public Affairs Officers and Imagery Technicians held their 40th Anniversary as a separate branch of the military yesterday and it served as a reminder of an "out of sight, out of mind" treasure in North Bay.
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Public Affairs Officers and Imagery Technicians held their 40th Anniversary as a separate branch of the military yesterday and it served as a reminder of an "out of sight, out of mind" treasure in North Bay.

The Canadian Forces Museum of Aerospace Defence is free to the public (donations accepted) and sports an impressive collection, especially artifacts surrounding local history.

You can even jump into the cockpit of a CT-133 Silverstar T-Bird jet plane...the longest-serving airplane in Canada's military history. 

Part of a German Buzz Bomb is displayed, along with audio of how it would have sounded as it threatened British citizens from the skies above London.

There's stuff about the nuclear-tipped Bomarc missiles that were based here. The name comes from the combination of the weapon's two manufacturers...Boeing and Michigan Aerospace Research Centre.

Probably the city's most famous cold war remnant, The Hole is well represented.

Alongside a model of the Hole's interior is a giant four-foot wide granite mushroom.

Bethany Aitchison is the Curatorial Assistant with an interesting story about it.

"It's from the underground complex and was sculpted out of the rock that they pulled out from the underground construction. They chose the shape of the mushroom because that was the mascot of the people who worked underground."

Workers were given certificates detailing the hours they spent underground and mushroom lapel pins when they finished their service.

"It's unique. Nowhere else, certainly in NORAD, has the mushroom as a mascot. If you had this pin it was a sign that you served in North Bay, a special place...one of a kind."

Museum hours are Saturday: noon till 4 or by appointment.

Yesterday hosted the 40th Anniversary of the Public Affairs branch. Public Affairs Officers provide communications advice at the tactical, operational and strategic levels, and act as key advisors to military commanders during domestic and international operations.

Capt Leah Pierce says the branch highlights members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the missions they are assigned.

"Specifically at 22 Wing we conduct the NORAD mission 24 hours a day. We surveil the airspace over Canada but we are also a network of sectors and regions that look after all of North America."

But what's a message these days without pictures and video. That's where Imagery Technicians come in.

"You can have the image but you really need to tell the story. But you can't tell the story and get the attraction without the image, so we work very well hand in hand."