EDMONTON – A Mitchell B-25 bomber has been brought back to its former glory thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers at the Alberta Aviation Museum.
About 12 years ago the rusting old warplane was found in a field near Lamont. A team of volunteers including several retired seniors quickly got to work to bring the WW2 era plane back to life.
Retired airplane mechanic Chuck Maclaren was part of the team when the work started.
“It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take a couple of years. The wings need a lot of work,” said Maclaren.
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Chuck was right. The amount of work was overwhelming but his enthusiasm fired up the team. After more than ten years the job was finally done and the aircraft was put on display for all to see. Chuck never did get to see the project fully finished though. He was 95 when he passed away.
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Former B-25 pilot Terry Champion is very impressed with the restoration. The 83 year old used to fly B-25’s during the Cold War. Even though it’s been 57 years since he sat in the cockpit he’s amazed at the attention to detail.
“This would be a $2 million job if you had to pay people to do it,” said Champion.
He also said the thousands of hours spent putting this war plane back together is time well spent because it’s such an important part of Canada’s aviation history.
“It was a fast airplane, got off the ground quickly very manueverable. There were almost 10 thousand built and used in every theatre of WW2.”
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This vintage bomber is now much more than a museum piece, Champion added. It’s also a reminder to future generations the sacrifice made for our freedom.
“I think young people should be aware of why we’re so lucky. Because it wasn’t just luck: it was a lot of blood, sweat and death by people who went to war against the aggressors,” the former pilot said.
Steve Finkelman, Communications Coordinator with the Alberta Aviation Museum, said the craftsmanship that went into restoring this B-25 is a testament to the passion and dedication of guys like Chuck Maclaren.
“This was done by a bunch of guys with very little funding who retired and had skills and nowhere else to go so they came in here every day. This hanger is a tribute to Chuck and everybody else,” said Finkelman.
Chuck would be very proud.