The City of Langford opened its newest park on Skirt Mountain, dedicating it to a team of aerial firefighters who lost their lives in a water bomber crash 55 years ago.
Flying Firemen Park was opened and dedicated at a ceremony Tuesday morning (Aug. 30) and was attended by the family of pilots Alex Davidson and Robert Moore, who died in the Skirt Mountain crash in July 1967.
Located on dedicated parkland acquired by the city as part of the 40 per cent park and open space requirement included in the Bear Mountain Master Development Agreement, the park features open greenspace, a fenced-in off-leash dog park, benches, and outdoor exercise equipment which was rescued and reused from City Centre Park. In total, 75 acres are being dedicated to the city, with 65 to be dedicated by year’s end.
“The City of Langford recognizes the flying firemen and all first responders for their dedication and commitment to ensure public safety in our community,” said Mayor Stew Young. “This walkable community park is something which can be enjoyed for many years to come … the park will be a place for the families of the flying firemen and other first responders to reflect and commemorate the sacrifices made by their loved ones.”
Davidson’s son Craig, said he and his family were thankful and honoured the city dedicated the park to the plane’s crew.
“They just loved to fly and they flew everything,” said Craig of his father and his colleagues. “Dad was the guy who did all the test flying for the water pick up and delivery systems … these guys were all World War II flying aces, and they flew like it.”
Craig was 16 when the crash happened. He said the plane was responding to a blaze on Skirt Mountain when their Canso water bomber clipped a tree and went down less than a kilometre from the site of the new park.
“It’s very apt they put a park so close to the site,” he said. “I’m thrilled, as is the rest of the family. We are just really grateful to Langford to be naming a park after our father and his efforts. It’s very touching.”
At the time of the crash, Davidson was 43 and Moore was 45.
Craig described his father as an interesting guy who enlisted for the Second World War at age 17 and flew Spitfire fighter planes over Europe, eventually being tasked with training Czech pilots. After the war, he went to university before re-enlisting, this time with the Royal Canadian Navy as a pilot instructor, before starting a career as a test pilot in 1955, which eventually led him to water bombers.