Calgary

WWII Hawker Hurricane lands at Calgary museum

More than 1,400 Hawker Hurricane fighter planes were built in Canada for the British during the Second World War.

7-year, 23,000-hour project is about to take flight

Richard de Boer is the president of the Calgary Mosquito Society. He says the passion project started as a pile of parts. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

A rare aircraft from the Second World War has landed in Calgary.

More than 1,400 Hawker Hurricane fighter planes were built in Canada for the British.

Now, after a seven-year, 23,000-hour restoration project at Wetaskiwin, Alta., one of those original planes, No. 5389 built in Ontario, is getting ready for its big public reveal at Calgary's Hangar Flight Museum.

The president of the Calgary Mosquito Society says the finished product includes a fresh coat of paint with Royal Air Force decals that look brand new.

He says it was a passion project that started as a pile of parts.

"We acquired this airplane in October of 2012. Prior to that, the airplane had been completely disassembled," Richard de Boer said. "There were no two pieces stuck together, there wasn't a nut and a bolt stuck together, and nothing had been labelled."

The refurbished Hawker Hurricane No. 5389 will be on public display starting Wednesday. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Those pieces were sent to Wetaskiwin for restoration, which meant finding authentic parts, or making them from scratch.

The cost, about $700,000, was split equally between the society and the City of Calgary.

Now, it's being kept behind a black curtain at the museum until later this week.

The restoration took about 23,000 hours and 7 years. The $700,000 cost was split between the City of Calgary and the Calgary Mosquito Society. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

The museum's executive director says, if someone gets an advance preview, it's not the end of the world.

"We're doing our best to try and hide it from the public and visitors, but I'm sure they'll be poking their heads around the drapery to see what's behind," Brian Desjardins said.

"So that's fine."

Desjardins says the No. 5389 is a beautiful, rare specimen.

Brian Desjardins, executive director at the Hangar Flight Museum, says the aircraft will be the facility's new centrepiece. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

"This aircraft will be our new centrepiece. It's quite the aircraft," he said.

"It was built in the 1940s and there's only a few left in the world, so we're happy to take it in and protect and preserve and care for it, as it is a city asset."

The post-restoration reveal happens Wednesday starting at 1 p.m. MT, followed by a weekend of events at the museum.

With files from Terri Trembath

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