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Hamilton warplane museum makes pitch to restore a second Lancaster bomber

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The future of a Second World War-era bomber aircraft, owned by the City of Toronto, is up in the air — and Hamilton wants to help.

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A Lancaster FM104 bomber currently sits in pieces in storage at a hangar in Edenville, awaiting a decision by city councillors.

Dave Rohrer, president of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, says the city started taking bids to acquire the plane in September 2017.

Although he put in a bid, he says he supported a group who wanted to see it stay in Toronto.

On July 11, Rohrer says councillors revealed the group was no longer in the running, and that the next consideration was sending it to the British Columbia Aviation Museum in Sidney, B.C.

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At that point, he says he worked to amend his proposal to include major restoration work on the bomber.

Rohrer says he remembers thinking that as part of the Greater Toronto Area, “we should step up and undertake a 10-year commitment to restore the airplane to static operating condition,” adding he also wanted to thoroughly explore the possibility of whether it could be restored to flying condition.

“In honour of the 10,000 people who worked and lived in the GTA and built those airplanes, in honour of FM104’s history in connection to Toronto.”

The museum is already home to a Lancaster that is one of just two left in the world that can still fly.

Restoration of Toronto’s plane to static condition for museum display would cost an estimated $20 million. If it’s in airworthy condition, though, the cost Rohrer anticipates is closer to $5 million.

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The museum plans to crowdfund the project if selected.

Toronto councillors are expected to revisit the issue next week.