Piece of Lethbridge history lands in city

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Piece of Lethbridge history lands in city
A piece of Lethbridge's aviation history has returned to southern Alberta. Erik Bay explains how the Time Air Historical Society is honouring the past, with plans to expand its fleet – Nov 30, 2021

For the first time in nearly half a century, this plane has landed in Lethbridge.

The de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter that Time Air leased as part of its fleet when the airline company operated in Lethbridge. Courtesy: Rik Barry

“It’s humbling,” Time Air Historical Society chairman Rik Barry said. “Obviously, you start with a bit of a dream, and from there, everything starts to avalanche.”

The de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter once carried travellers for Time Air, an airline that ran out of Lethbridge for almost 30 years.

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According to Barry, the 18-passenger plane was leased by the airline to test the appetite for larger aircraft.

“The actual aircraft wasn’t in the fleet for an awful long time, but it certainly set the pace for Time Air’s expansion,” Barry said.

One of 500 Twin Otters ever made, this de Havilland has quite the past, including a stint flying in the Maldives after its days with Time Air.

“It was actually a 1967 de Havilland Canada demonstration aircraft, so it flew around the world demonstrating to different airshows and airlines and entities the particular capabilities of this aircraft,” Barry said.

Now that it’s returned to Lethbridge, the plan is to reunite it with other members of Time Air’s fleet.

Barry says the historical society has already acquired three other planes including a Fokker F-28-1000 — the largest type of passenger jet the airline flew.

A rendering of the Fokker F-28-1000 used by Time Air that the Time Air Historical Society plans to return to Lethbridge. Credit: Time Air Historical Society

“Once all the aircraft come back, then we’ll start with refurbishment of the aircraft,” Barry said.

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“This will, depending on the aircraft, be anything from a simple repaint to a full refurbishment and restoration.”

When that day finally arrives, the historical society hopes to turn this part of the city’s history into an attraction for others to enjoy for years to come.

“All you have to do is ask the right people and ask for the right amount of help. Then you can make things happen,” Barry said.

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