It’s not a bird … it’s not a bee … it’s a plane spinning up in the air beside a Saskatchewan highway.
A 1947 Sea Bee has been made into a landmark about eight kilometres west of Prince Albert off Highway 3.
Local businessman and pilot Doug Sand said he’s been flying for three decades and jumped at the opportunity when the idea landed.
“There’s a fellow that’s got a helicopter on a pole just east of Swift Current and I’ve always admired that. I thought that’s pretty neat and then when I saw the Sea Bee, I thought, ‘here we go,’” Sand said.
“I know the gentleman that owned it. And it has been sitting for 15 years, maybe 20 years and hasn’t flown … and he said he was done flying and he wanted to sell his aircraft and I said, ‘do you still have that old Sea Bee?’ and he said, ‘Yes, I do.’ Well, that got my interest up and the next thing you know, I owned it.”
Around Christmas, Sand had the retired aircraft loaded onto a semi and hauled from Mont Nebo, about 70 km west of Prince Albert.
“We took the engine out, put an electric motor in to turn the prop, re-did the wiring, so we got the lights working, made a pivot, so it weathervanes, mounted it up on top of the big tank and built a big tripod on the tank.
“Somebody else suggested, ‘let’s make the lights work’ and around, around it went and we got mannequins inside it. So there’s pilot and copilot, we painted the former owner’s name, which was Wayne Saam on the one door and Lorraine Saam on the other door and that was wonderful.”
Sand said it took 12 days of work before it was hoisted into the air on Jan. 15.
“We got that darn ice storm and I had to wait an extra day before I could get it put up,” he said.
“A local crane operator here, he came with a beautiful crane and he helped us put it up and I had lots of help and he donated his crane, which would cost me thousands and it was lots of people dug in to help and it was great.
“It weighs about 2,000 pounds.
Sand won’t comment on how much money the endeavour took but said it was worth it.
“I’m going to leave that right out of it … I spent quite a few dollars but it doesn’t matter,” he said. “All out of my pocket. I love aircraft. I love airplanes. To hell with it. You only live once.
“Anybody that’s an aircraft enthusiast will be kind of pleased and it’s a good landmark and if somebody said, ‘how do I find your shop?’ It’s not hard to find. There’s a good landmark.”
Ashley Charles, CEO of Prince Albert Regional Economic Development Alliance (PAREDA) which manages Prince Albert Tourism, says she has heard about the aircraft’s launch in the rural municipality of Buckland.
“It makes an impression on the motorists that are going through and it’s a tourism attraction because these kinds of objects, they stand out and this one just had sentimental value for the guys who were creating it,” she said.
“Anything like that where motorists can be like, ‘oh, hey, that’s the place that has a plane near Prince Albert.’ It just brings in more people to be more observant of what’s in the region and so it’s always good when we have landmarks such as that one.”
Charles said she would like to see more of these landmarks take off in the area.
“The first of many future ones,” she said.
“A good trend to move towards is to have more landmarks. People are continuously driving through Prince Albert to get the lakes to go fishing in the north, to enjoy the parklands around the region, camping and even sports and culture.”
“I would definitely encourage people just to go around and just to see what’s out there in the region and you just might find some hidden gems, such as that landmark out in Buckland. It is not that far of a drive but it’s safe and I definitely would recommend it.”