When he first laid eyes on it, it was rusting, broken into several pieces and filled with sand.
But now, 16 years later, retired naval officer Bud Ayer says he’s confident the Fairey Firefly FR.1 will soar over Halifax once again. The plane, which was in service with the Royal Canadian Air Force beginning in the late 1940s, is one of dozens set to take to the skies on Sept. 11 and 12 for this year’s Nova Scotia International Airshow (NSIAS).
“The biggest thing will be getting the engine started,” chuckled Ayer as he stood next to the Firefly, which was sold to the Ethiopian army in 1951 and lay buried in the desert for 30 years before being returned to Canadian soil.
“It came in pieces … just a great big pile of junk,” he recalled.
Officials announced yesterday that the NSIAS will return to Shearwater this year, and will focus largely on heritage aircraft in honour of the Canadian Navy’s centennial year.
“We’re really excited to be able to highlight the contributions of naval aviation over the last 100 years,” said Col. Sam Michaud, Commander of 12 Wing Shearwater.
“It’s going to be a great show.”
Along with heritage models, the show will feature modern aircraft from both Canada and the U.S., including CF-18 Hornets and the ever-popular Snowbirds.
According to airshow executive director Colin Stephenson, there may also be a demonstration of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter — the model set to replace Canada’s aging Sea King choppers.
“We hope that will happen, and are really looking forward to it,” said Stephenson.
For Ayer, however, the highlight will definitely be the Firefly’s long-awaited return to the skies.
“I’ve been at this since 1994,” he said. “That day will be pretty nerve-wracking.”
For more information on NSIAS events and featured aircraft, visit www.nsairshow.ca