The city shouldn’t parachute away from a controversial pair of mothballed aircraft, says the Calgary Heritage Authority.
A report on the cost to maintain and repair two Second World War-era planes is expected to come before council soon, just as a letter drafted last week by the city’s heritage agency called on officials to retain both the de Havilland Mosquito and a Hawker Hurricane.
“The CHA encourages council to retain these valuable and unique aircraft as an integral part of the city-owned collection,” reads the letter signed by the authority’s chairman, Gerry Meek.
Last year the fate of the Mosquito came into question when an offer to purchase the decaying relic for a reported $1.5 million to an overseas collector was revealed, funds that would be used to restore the Hurricane.
But a massive outcry from local aircraft enthusiasts prompted council to reconsider the move, choosing to look at options and costs to keep and restore one or both of them.
Ald. Gord Lowe, a former board member of the Aerospace Museum of Calgary, said regardless of what council decides, something needs to be done to ensure the two aircraft don’t further deteriorate.
“We’ve got to do something now to stop the ongoing rot,” he said.
“If the city decides to retain these planes, then comes the issue of how to pay for their conservation and restoration.”
The cost to restore the Hurricane to museum quality alone would be in excess of $1 million, Lowe said.
Richard de Boer of the Calgary Mosquito Society, which successfully pushed council to reconsider the planned sale of the aircraft, said the endorsement will help continue the growing momentum.
“We welcome any support of this kind because both of these are important aircraft,” he said.
“Certainly it seems like there’s been a groundswell of support from both veterans and aviation groups.”
The city will next put out a call for bids to see what the cost to restore the planes will run.
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