EDMONTON -- For the second time since October, a historic plaque has been stolen from the Alberta Aviation Museum.

“It’s very disheartening,” said Jean Lauzon, the executive director at the museum.

On March 6, 2021, staff discovered a plaque honouring the achievements of Edmonton pilot Wop May was gone.

“We do have a template of the plaque, we do have some record but to have a plaque that size taken is pretty sad,” Lauzon said.

Wop May plaque

“It’s so silly and it’s so senseless,” said Denny May, upset by the theft of his father’s plaque.

“I don’t know where they think they’re going to get rid of it and what are they going to get? 10 bucks, 20 bucks?” he said.

“To them it’s a piece of metal. They don’t see it as history. They don’t know about history.”

He said his dad, Wop May was a war hero, famous for outrunning the Red Baron, and later becoming an aviation pioneer.

“They made people, well all of Canada, I guess maybe a lot of the world, understand that airplanes could be useful in saving lives, in tracking bad guys, in doing exploration, doing aerial photography,” said May.

The Alberta Aviation Museum

The Aviation Heritage Memorial, which recognizes Edmonton’s rich aviation history and the people who helped create it, was also damaged the night of the theft.

A car jack is still jammed under one of the plaques thieves tried to remove.

Plaque damage

“They tried to pry it off,” said Lauzon. “It looks like there’s some damage to some bolts and they weren’t very successful so now it’s sitting there damaged and we’re going to have to have that one taken off and repaired or replaced.”

In October, an RCAF Hangar No 14 dedication plaque was also stolen - damaging the 80 year old building.

The Alberta Aviation Museum

“I’d like to know where they’re going and if scrap dealers are accepting them why are they accepting them,” said Lauzon.

She said replacing the plaques and repairing damage will cost more than $10,000, money the museum doesn’t have.

“It may sound like a small financial impact but no, it’s not.“

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the museum has been closed for seven of the past 12 months.

“There isn’t the financial resources to just quickly replace and now you have to make the priority of what do you make sure that there’s a museum at the end of this road or do you make sure that there’s plaques,” said Lauzon.

Stolen plaque

Museum staff did recover a hammer they believe was used to remove the Wop May plaque. A tool they hope could prove useful to police in identifying the thieves.

“We’ve noticed there’s been some suspicious vehicles coming back into the front of the museum and people jumping out and looking for something over by where the plaque was originally located so whether they’re tied I don’t know,” she said.

"That’s a very famous place and I think everybody should respect that, the value of that facility or facilities like that or museums," said May.

The museum has security footage of the theft, and officials said the video has been turned over to police.

Lauzon is hopeful the items can still be recovered and has this message for the thieves.

“Whoever did this if you want to just bring it back and no questions asked we’d be very up for that.”

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call Edmonton police at 780-423-4567.