Twin-engine plane from the ’50s to highlight event honouring Hamilton business, basketball legend

A restored twin-engine Piper aircraft is expected to a big highlight at a July 9, 2022 event at the Eva Rothwell Centre in Hamilton, Ont.

A plane from a legendary 1950s airline company will be a spotlight piece Saturday when Hamilton business and basketball legend, Ron Foxcroft, is honoured at an event in Central Hamilton.

The owner of Fluke Transportation and creator of the Fox 40 whistle says a restored twin-engine Piper aircraft will be the “great jewel” revealed at a ceremony marking Marie and Ron Foxcroft Day at the Eva Rothwell Centre.

“This was the first ever twin-engine airplane to fly into Toronto Island Airport,” former NCAA basketball referee Foxcroft told 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show.

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“On Saturday, there will be 16 pilots from Central Airways that actually flew this airplane into the airport. It’s absolutely a historic day to celebrate this.”

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The Piper aircraft was originally purchased by Robert and Tommy Wong who ran the family-owned Central Airways in the early 50s which becoming the biggest flight training school in Canada at the time.

Before and after photos of a reconstructed 1956 Piper plane originally owned by Central Airways. The plane once operated out of the Centre Island Airport on Toronto Island. Central Airways / Don MacVicar / Eva Rothwell Centre

Foxcroft estimates about 70 people in the form of Wong family members and associates will make the trek to the Eva Rothwell on Wentworth Street North for the weekend when the child safe fixture is uncovered.

“Robert and Tommy Wong will be there and this is their original airplane,” said Foxcroft.

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“They’ve just been nominated for the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame, and I can’t imagine when the 16 pilots who actually flew this airplane … are going to feel when they see this.”

The project was the brainstorm of Eva Rothwell’s developer Rev. Don MacVicar who often drove past the no-longer-wanted plane sitting lifeless on a field at Kenneth Gamble Ltd. on Highway 6 for years.

A redeveloped 1956 twin-engine Piper airplane, soon to be a permanent fixture at Eva Rothwell Centre in Hamilton, was once owned by Robert and Tommy Wong who established a flight training school in the GTA back in the 1950s. Central Airways / Don MacVicar / Eva Rothwell Centre

What was left of the aircraft would be donated for MacVicar’s exhibit in 2018 after he met up with then Gamble manager Cam Harrod who now runs Barn Full of Parts and other aviation businesses.

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“Campbell then said that I could have this one,” MacVicar said in statement sent to Global News.

“He would donate it for the children and I was sold. ‘Yes I’ll take it,’ I said not having any money or transportation available at the time.”

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Mohawk College’s Aviation School would eventually be the ones to move the plane to their hanger at John C Munro International Airport where semester after semester of students would put hundreds of hours in restoring the plane between 2018 and 2022.

Before and after shots depict the reconstruction of the cockpit on a 1956 Piper plane, part of a Mohawk College restoration project for students beginning in 2018. Central Airways / Don MacVicar / Eva Rothwell Centre

A number other donors, among them KF Aerospace, will be revealed during the ceremony expected to include 200 dignitaries including Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

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In all, contributions to the restoration totaled $100,000.

Foxcroft is also expected to launch the inaugural Tyquan Brown Memorial annual basketball tournament at Eva Rothwell Saturday afternoon.

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