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Restored Second World War aircraft returns to Calgary

WATCH ABOVE: The 77-year-old Hawker Hurricane was originally stationed in Calgary. It will be unveiled to the public at the Hangar Flight Museum on Wednesday.

It’s a piece of Calgary’s aviation history that is now returning to the city.

The 77-year-old Hawker Hurricane has spent the last seven years being restored in Wetaskiwin, Alta.

On Wednesday, the plane was strapped to a flatbed truck and driven to the Hangar Flight Museum in Calgary.

After 15 hours in transit, it arrived at the museum in one piece and will be unveiled to the public on Nov. 6.

The unveiling ceremony will also feature a 96-year-old veteran who flew this particular Hurricane in the 1940s.

READ MORE: Rare WWII Hawker Hurricane plane restoration almost complete

History

Richard de Boer, the president of the Calgary Mosquito Society (CMS), has been researching the history of the Second World War-era aircraft for decades.

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“Although the Hawker Hurricane was a British-design, 10 per cent of all Hurricanes built were made in Canada,” de Boer said. “This particular airplane was completed in 1942 and it was initially based in Alberta.”

De Boer said the Hurricane on display flew to Calgary right from the factory before being shipped down to Lethbridge.

“[This plane] helped train pilots who would then be sent to the west coast of Canada to defend us against potential incursions from the Japanese,” de Boer said.

After a year of serving on the west coast, de Boer said the plane was involved in an accident where it ended up on its nose.

The Hurricane was repaired and flew during the final months of the war before being sold to a farmer in Saskatchewan for parts.

But in 1961, the aircraft was saved.

“There was an enterprising fellow here in Calgary by the name of Lynn Garrison who had a vision of building the first aviation museum in Calgary,” de Boer said. “This was the very first airplane that he acquired for that new museum.”

Garrison’s museum never took off, and in the late 1960s, de Boer said the City of Calgary took possession of the plane.

Since then, de Boer said the plane spent decades in storage before the restoration started.

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De Boer said the $700,000 cost to repair the aircraft was split between the city and CMS.

The Hurricane is now ready for display, and the group hopes to get the engine running by Spring 2020.

Unfortunately, de Boer said the plane will only be able to start up and taxi but never fly.

Importance to Calgary

Brian Desjardins, the executive director for the Hangar Flight Museum, said the addition of a Hawker Hurricane is special for the city.

“It’s certainly going to attract a lot of people,” Desjardin said. “The aviation community is well aware, they’ll be coming to see it. We’re already getting some attention from around the world to come see this aircraft.”