Al Colby and Linus. Photo by Lech Lebiedowski.

The storied history of Edmonton’s 418 Squadron was on display last Tuesday as the history gallery detailing the unit’s achievements reopened after a year of renovations. But the star of the event was a dog, a parachute and a former squadron mechanic.

In the mid-1950s, 418 Squadron Corporal Al Colby found an stray dog behind their hangar, now home to the Alberta Aviation Museum.

“Somebody had put the boots to him,” Colby remembered. “I lifted him up and brought him inside the door and all of a sudden there was all these fellows around helping me. We nursed him back to health and he participated in everything we did.”

Butch, as the squadron named him, became their mascot and traveled everywhere with them. He even had his own parachute, the only mascot in the RCAF with his own flight gear.

The parachute was rediscovered in a Calgary attic and returned to the museum in 2014. When Linus, a stand-in for Butch modeled the parachute at the opening ceremony,  Colby and the dog became instant media stars. They appeared on all local TV newscasts  and their picture even graced the front page of the Edmonton Journal.

Councillor Bev Esslinger and 418 President Ron Sharpe cutting the ribbon

“I saw the dog. It made my day,” said Colby. “I didn’t expect to do that much talking.”

Laura Patterson, Linus’ owner was also delighted with the way her pup handled the notoriety.

“He loves wearing the parachute. He’s so patient. [There’s] not a bad bone in his body.”

Linus is just over a year old and, like Butch before him, was also a rescue. Patterson adopted him last summer from Second Chance Animal Rescue (SCARS.) The group helped the museum connect with Linus’ owner for the event.

“Loved it,” Patterson said of the experience. It was so nice to see Linus and Al together and hear Al remember all the stories.”

Our thanks to Laura Patterson, Al Colby and SCARS for helping make the gallery reopening a huge success. Be sure to drop by and see for yourself how the gallery tells this important part of Edmonton’s aviation history. You can find out more about 418 Squadron history here, and for more about Linus and SCARS here.

 

 

 

Watch the CTV Edmonton story.

View the CBC Edmonton story.

See the Edmonton Journal coverage.