Ice Pilots' Mikey McBryan rebuilding plane that dropped bombs 75 years ago
DC-3 aircraft will be flight-ready for 75th anniversary of WW II's D-Day
A gutted, vandalized plane sitting at an airport in Montreal is getting new life from the N.W.T.'s Mikey McBryan.
McBryan, the general manager for Yellowknife-based Buffalo Airways, bought the shell of the DC-3 aircraft on eBay. McBryan plans on making it flight-ready for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which was June 6, 1944.
"I've been doing D-Day stuff with DC-3s for the last 10 years," said McBryan. "I never knew the DC-3s dropped bombs on D-Day."
The information can be found in the plane's logbook, according to McBryan.
McBryan wrote in a social media post that the logbook says the plane hasn't flown in almost 30 years, and that it had once dropped a dozen 20-pound bombs.
The plane is in pretty rough shape. There are no engines on it, the flight controls have rotted off, and the inside has been stripped by "treasure hunters," he said.
But Buffalo Airways has many of the parts needed to put the plane back together. The company's flagship aircraft are the Second World War-era DC-3s and DC-4s it uses for passenger and cargo flights. Buffalo and McBryan were featured on the former History Channel show Ice Pilots NWT.
He said they will need to travel to Montreal to work on the plane. He'd like to get the plane flying in six months, in time for the anniversary.
On D-Day, he said thousands of these planes flew over the English Channel in the invasion to drop paratroopers over Normandy.
"There's very few surviving aircraft of any type that did this job. So finding something with this much history is kind of like a needle in a haystack."
McBryan acknowledges that the plane has a dark background, as it dropped bombs on people.
"The more troubling thing is paratroopers that were in these airplanes had … only about a 20 to 30 per cent survival rate."
He said there was a good chance that many, or all, of the soldiers on the plane died.
"It's something to remember," said McBryan.
He doesn't know what the future of the plane will be after it is up and flying. But he said if anyone wants to follow along with the plane's progress, he will be updating his social media pages.
With files from Joanne Stassen and Marc Winkler