On Saturday October 27th, the Calgary Mosquito Aircraft Society achieved another major milestone when it took possession of the City owned Hawker Hurricane and transported it to it's
restoration site with Historic Aviation Services of Wetaskiwin, Alta.
Excuse me, but what is the Calgary MOSQUITO Aircraft gang (sometimes referred to as "Richard's Pirates") doing with a Hurricane? I mean, why didn't you call it the Mosquito &
Hurricane Society? Blame the unforeseen evolution of events. Or short-sightedness, I suppose. When we got started back in 2007, our simple purpose was to stop the sale of the Mosquito.
The interested party in England offered to pay the City of Calgary $1M for outright ownership of the Mosquito. To sweeten the deal he also offered to take the City's unrestored Hurricane
with him, have it restored to static display condition in England and return it to the City to be displayed at the Aero Space Museum. He valued this part of his offer at $500,000. So in
total, he was willing to put up $1.5M in cash and kind for ownership of the Mosquito.
In our early (and desperately naive days), all we wanted was to convince the City to not sell the Mosquito.
"Fine" says they. "The museum says they don't want it and say that it can't be restored. If we don't sell it, what do we do with it?" asked City alderfolk.
"Oh dear" says we. We needed to give them an attractive and credible option. We created the Calgary Mosquito Aircraft Preservation Society, the purpose of which was to fundraise, restore
and display the Mosquito, while honouring those who served and educating folk at large.
"There," says we to City folk, "There is your alternative to selling the Mosquito."
The alderfolk listened. But as discussions progressed, it was clear that the door to a sale was still open and that someone had their foot in the jam holding it open. Turns out the other
elephant in the room was a Hurricane.
"In for a penny, in for a pound," figures we. Let's see about pushing that toe out of the doorway, slammin' it shut by solving all of the City's outstanding old airplane issues. After a
short discussion and a hard swallow, the "ayes" had it. We told the City folk that we were crazy enough to adopt the Hurricane as well. "After all, what's a second airplane and another
$600,000 or $700,000?" mused us "over enthusiastic amateurs" (a title bestowed upon us by a sour grape chewing critic).
And that's how our umbrella got big enough to cover a second airplane, despite our mono-aircraft organizational title.
So after a bunch more jawing, fighting, stressing and contract negotiation with folk, the day finally came to move her from storage to where her long awaited restoration can begin.
We picked a great day for it. It was only -17C that morning. We arranged to meet at 8:30 a.m. I was the last one to arrive at 8:20. Not even two dozen of Tim's finest fat pills would
stave off the ribbing. "Wait for me, for I am your leader..."
As with the Mosquito move in August, we relied on the expertise and generosity of Daryl Medd and Rangeland Truck and Crane to move our second adoptee. Smooth and smooth is how it all went.
We had the whole bird loaded into a single 53 foot trailer in two and a half hours. The man knows his stuff and we are grateful.
Jack McWilliam and I followed the truck to Wetaskiwin where the crew from Historic Aviation Services were waiting for us.
"I'm sorry. What's that?" You're asking who is this Historic outfit and why are they doing the big work on the Hurricane?
Firstly, because we got our hands full looking after our first love, the Wooden Wonder. She's a big bird and it;s going to take a lot of focus, energy and coordination to do right by her.
Yes the Hawker is beautiful, rare and historic, but let's not spread ourselves too thin. Though we have a tremendous amount of professional experience in our ranks, to the City we were a new
organization that has never restored an airplane and that has no track record for anything but making noise. We decided to strengthen our case with the City by partnering with experts that
they already knew and trusted.
That was our thinking. It worked.
Historic Aviation Services Inc. is the outfit that the City of Calgary called on in 2009 to do an independent feasibility study on the condition of both airplanes, to look at how complete
the aircraft were, what it would cost to restore them and if these birds were relevant to the aviation history of Calgary and Canada. This report proved to the City that what we had been
saying about the airplanes all along was true and accurate and it did a great deal to bump up our credibility.
"So why have them to do the restoration?" you wonder.
HASI has been restoring vintage airplanes to flying and museum static condition for many years. They did what is perhaps the finest and most authentic restoration on a Canadian Hurricane in
the world. In fact, that bird is a sister ship to ours. They also restore virtually all of the airplanes for the provincial transportation museum, the Reynolds-Alberta Museum.
It was HASI that told the city it would cost $900,000 to do a static restoration, with engines running on the Mosquito and $700,000 on the Hurricane. That is where the total $1.6M number
came from. That's where the City's offer of $800,000 came from: They're in for half.
Thanks to Jack, Daryl, Stan, Byron, Greg and a couple more fellas, unloading the Hurricane was as smooth as the loading. We're good: It took us less than an hour to unload and tuck our
baby into her new workshop.
That left the rest of the afternoon for back room tours. It was a slice of cherry pie heaven for us old machine lovers. My second comeuppance of the day sideswiped me while I was happily
ooh-ing and aah-ing over the type of Calgary Transit System electric trolley bus that used to cart my Mom and childhood self around town back in the early '60s, when a certain smart alecky
truck and crane company owner asked how old I felt reminiscing over electric trolleys...
"That was the 19-60s!" I protested to no avail. Too late; the point had been scored.
Our contract with the City requires that she be restored to look as she did during the war when she served with No.133 (Fighter) Squadron of the RCAF in Lethbridge and Tofino: camouflaged,
no spinner and sporting the single letter "M" on her fuselage.
I know, I know. I like the McKnight story too, but the City says otherwise. Besides, there will be a flying McKnight Hurricane in Canada soon, as Vintage Wings of Gatineau is finishing
their flying Hurricane in tribute to our famous Calgary ace.
Move day was five years in the making and it couldn't have gone any better. It proved that we've got great people and great partners. The day's crew included, Jack, Colette, Bert, Lloyd,
Ken, Daryl, Greg, Stan, Kevin, Paul, Craig, Laurel, Randy, Tony and Tim.
All in all it was another major milestone event for the somewhat misnamed Calgary Mosquito Aircraft Society. Thanks gang.
Already a veteran of a Hurricane move (see ../feature09.htm), Daryl Medd had the Hurricane secured and ready to roll in no time. (R. Tychkowsky)
Thanks to the Hurricane's landing gear and a couple furniture dollies, even the wing centre section didn't pose a problem. (R. Tychkowsky)
Finally, a moment years in the making and decades in the waiting - the Hurricane hits the open road - bound for a very bright future. (R. de Boer)
Once in Wetaskiwin, Historic Aviation Services unloaded the trailer and put everything in their workshop. Unfortunately their facility is not open to the public. (R. de Boer)
Anyone doubting HASL's ability to restore the Hurricane needs only to look in the museum's warehouse at all the restored aircraft that are in storage. No that's not a real Avro Arrow. (R. de Boer)