N.B. WWII plane lands at Shearwater museum
The last of the Grumman TBM Avenger aircraft left its New Brunswick home for the last time today, to land permanently at the Shearwater Aviation Museum in Nova Scotia.
TBM Avengers were built as torpedo bombers for the Second World War, but were used in New Brunswick to spray bugs and fight forest fires in the 1960s and ‘70s.
The Avengers called New Brunswick home for almost 60 years.
Forest Protection Limited (FPL) of Fredericton, once owned and operated the largest civilian fleet — 85 aircraft — of Avengers in the world.
FPL began operating Avengers in 1958 after purchasing 12 surplus aircraft from the Royal Canadian Navy.
Mario Maroles has worked on the maintenance of the planes for 18 years and was the one that made sure this last one would make it to Shearwater.
"I've seen a few of them leave and every time they go, I thought to myself 'This is what I do, I put them together and off they go.'"
Fully loaded, the plane weighs in at about 17,600 pounds, and four hours of flying burns about $3,000 worth of fuel.
Dave Wilson was the pilot who got to fly the plane to its final destination.
"It works just like it did when it came out of the factory and when it lands it will be the last time it gets the wheels off the ground, I imagine," he said.
The Shearwater Aviation Museum Foundation bought the plane and, including flying the plane back to Shearwater, it cost the museum about $50,000.
But John Webber, engineer for the museum, said that's a steal.
"That's what it's going to cost when we get the final tally up, but it's really, really a gift, no matter how you cut it," Webber said.