Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Calgary airplane enthusiasts reach fundraising goal for pair of vintage Second World War planes

Fundraising is now complete for the restoration of two, city-owned vintage airplanes.

Members of the Mosquito Aircraft Preservation Society announced Tuesday they have met their two-year, $800,000 goal — and actually finished six weeks early.

“When the city agreed to partner with us ... the cost was determined to be $1.6 million to restore both of these airplanes,” said society president Richard de Boer.

“The city said ‘we’ll put up half on a matching dollar basis but the Calgary Mosquito Society has to come up with the other half.’”

Fundraising efforts began with a deadline of Aug. 1, 2014 and the finish line was crossed June 20.

“We’ve been doing a whole shotgun of different fundraising things but the last two things that put the cap on it for us was a direct appeal to our membership and people were extremely responsive,” said de Boer.

“We had over 77% of our members throwing in cash donations averaging over $100, which has been significant.

“But the very last thing was a grant from the Calgary Foundation, covering our educational and display components for both airplanes, and that one came through last week for $60,000.”

Having the money in place means restoration of the two airplanes — a Second World War vintage de Havilland Mosquito and a Hawker Hurricane — will continue to completion.

The Mosquito was taken to Nanton where it is being restored by a team of volunteers at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada while the Hurricane was taken to Historic Aviation Services in Wetaskiwin.

“We have a very active group that are down (in Nanton) at least twice a week and we’re averaging 12 to 15 people,” said de Boer.

“And these are, for the most part, pretty highly skilled people in the aviation business, professional engineers, mechanics and that sort of thing.”

Both planes sat in storage for roughly a half-century before the restoration process began, and de Boer said work will likely continue for at least another three years.

“It’s an extremely detailed, in-depth restoration,” he said.

“The poor Mosquito has been kicking around Calgary for over 50 years and it was disassembled almost to every last nut and bolt and there’s been some damage to it over the years.”


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