After a long wait, the British Columbia Aviation Museum is finally in possession of its newest display aircraft.
“We’ve been anticipating that this machine would arrive months and months and months ago,” said museum librarian Doug Rollins.
The machine in question is a Grumman CP-121 Tracker. 99 planes were built under license by de Havilland Canada from 1956 to 1960. The planes were designed to operate from aircraft carriers in an anti-submarine role during the height of the Cold War.
“There’s a surprising number that were left because after they retired from military in 1990, they’re a flexible machine, they’re very versatile and they found a very useful role in commercial aviation here in B.C.,” said Rollins
“Most of them were actually used in fire fighting as aerial tankers, water bombers,” he added.
The museum’s Tracker was originally housed at the Canadian Military Education Centre in Chilliwack, but when it shut down in 2015 the plane went into storage. That’s when the Aviation Museum came to the rescue.
“They had no place for it and they offered it to us and we said great,” said Rollins.
The only hitch was that the museum had to cover the cost of delivering the aircraft.
“So a towing company towed it all the way from Chilliwack down to temporary storage on the Fraser River,” said Rollins.
“From there it went to Steveston and stayed there for almost two months until the time was right,” added Rollins.
Its arrival is a welcome sight for those with a connection to the aircraft, such as Jay McGowan. McGowan’s brother flew Trackers off of the aircraft carrier Bonaventure.
“Seeing something like this come back to Victoria is really exciting, this is part of our heritage and history here in Victoria,” said McGowan.
The tracker now sits outside the museum awaiting and restoration and will go on static display upon completion.
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