We have two important supporters of the museum and of local aviation, Annie Shortill and Mike Poworoznik.
Annie Shortill (Feb 1915-Nov 2017)
Annie Shortill has been around aviation in Edmonton for most of her 102 years.
“My first date (in 1934) was sitting under the wing of an American Eagle (biplane,)” she said during an interview for the Blatchford Tales Oral History Project in 2014. “My husband (to be, Howard,) was selling rides at one cent a pound for a trip around the city. And almost every Sunday after was to Blatchford Field.”
The couple continued to be great aviation buffs, meeting many of the early aviation pioneers including airport manager Jimmy Bell and airline entrepreneur Grant McConnachie.
Shortill shared her husband’s love of all things aviation. “They rather excited me and appealed to me. Just seeing it taking off and seeing what it could do…like a flying bird.”
Although her husband was medically unfit to fly, he did join the military working as a truck driver with units of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which trained hundreds of thousands of pilots for the war effort, both in Alberta and at bases across the country.
After the war the couple continued their involvement with aviation. For a time, Annie Shortill worked in the kitchen of the Edmonton Flying Club. She and Murray were among the group of enthusiasts who laboured to get an aviation museum started in Edmonton in the 1980’s. Ten years later, when the museum moved to its present location, she was a constant presence at Hangar 14 as a volunteer.
“Shortill supported all the fundraising things that we did.” remembers Barb Cloney, who worked for the Edmonton Aviation Heritage Society in the hangar. “Raffles in particular. She would always provide the afghan and the mitts and the scarfs and she made them herself.”
Mike Poworoznik (Aug 1934-Dec 2017)
To many in the aviation community in and around Edmonton, Mike Poworoznik’s Fathers Day Fly-in at his farm strip near Morrinville was a “must attend” event. The Poworoznik family and friends fed upwards of 200 people and hosted dozens of airplanes. The fly-in was an annual event for more than 30 years, and it was all free.
Poworoznik wore many hats during this career; mechanic, farmer, rancher, grave digger and school bus driver. But his real love was aviation. He learned to fly in 1964. His farm strip was built 10 years later. There were always numerous aircraft being flown or under construction at the family airfield.
Eventually, Poworoznik caught the “ultralight bug,” and began selling and instructing in the tiny aircraft. Many ultralight pilots in the region owe their love of light aviation to his enthusiasm for the sport.
Poworoznik was a life-long member of the Alberta Aviation Museum and we were pleased to offer space to the family for their father’s memorial Tuesday November 12. About 150 came to pay their respects to a friend, mentor and fellow aviator.
It was no co-incidence the event was held on a Tuesday. Poworoznik was a regular among the old-timers who gather at the museum canteen every Tuesday for lunch, coffee and to swap stories.
Our condolences to the families and friends of both Annie Shortill and Mike Poworoznik.