Gimli's historic plane monument grounded for repairs

A famous landmark in Gimli, Man. was temporarily taken down. The town's retired T-33 fighter jet was removed from its mount on First Avenue this week after one of the plane's fuel tanks was accidentally clipped by a construction vehicle working nearby.

T-33 fighter jet example of the many training aircraft once based in town

Gimli's fighter jet monument had to be removed for repairs after a construction worker clipped one of its fuel tanks, Mayor Randy Woroniuk said. (Google Maps)

A famous landmark in Gimli, Man. was temporarily taken down.

The town's retired T-33 fighter jet was removed from its mount on First Avenue Thursday after one of the plane's fuel tanks was accidentally clipped by a construction vehicle working nearby.

The plane is now sitting in storage while the town figures out how to go about fixing the decades-old aircraft, said Gimli Mayor Randy Woroniuk.

"It's a piece of our aeronautical history here," said Woroniuk.

The jet is one example of the many aircraft that used to fly out of Gimli when the Royal Canadian Air Force had a base in the small Manitoba town.

"We trained many Commonwealth pilots who fought in World War II," said Woroniuk.

"It was quite a force in this town."

The recent ding is hardly the first time the plane has needed body work.

Woroniuk said in 1969, a pilot had to ditch it mid-air after encountering an electrical problem. The fighter jet veered down, just missed a 37,800-litre fuel container and crashed into a garden shed at the old North American Lumber yard.

The T-33 jet was placed on a pedestal to honour the town's military past when the air force base closed in 1971.

Other than being moved once, the small Jet has pointed to the sky for decades, said Woroniuk.

"People want to see it back. It's something that's part of our history. It's part of our community," he said.

Woroniuk said he hopes he can find a local tinsmith who can repair the fuel tank, but if it must be replaced he's willing to go to the airplane graveyard in the Mojave Desert, where the Gimli Glider was stored, to track down the part.

"We're going to endeavour to try and get it back as soon as we can."