Aviation buffs mourn loss of vintage bomber

By David Morelli
Star Staff Reporter

The unmistakable buzz of a Mosquito bomber overhead may never be heard again.
The last airworthy Mosquito crashed during an air display Sunday near Manchester, England, killing its two crew.
Only 28 of the wooden planes exist in various states of restoration, but none is flying. A Florida millionaire has flown a restored Mosquito in the past, but its operating costs and insurance, estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, have grounded the aircraft.
A group of Windsor aviation enthusiasts are attempting to rebuild the world's 29th bomber. News of Sunday's crash shocked them.
"It's a shame." said Tim Gillies, president of a local Mosquito Bomber Group which is just beginning its restoration project.
"There may never be another one getting up in the air"
The plane that crashed, a Mark III trainer, was the property of British Aerospace, which inherited the Mosquito when it purchased the plane's original builder, Canada's de Havilland Corp.
The vintage, Second World War aircraft was built in 1945 and featured in the 1968 film 633 Squadron.
It only flew about 40 to 50 hours a year, said Vic Leaney, another local Mosquito enthusiast, because British Aerospace didn't want to put any more strain on the plane than necessary.
Its flight schedule was so rare that it was printed annually in the newsletter of the international Mosquito Aircrew Association.
It's really sad," Gillies said. "There's only four Mosquitos in Canada."

Workers 'stunned' by crash


The local group intended to bring its bomber to flying condition, but not with the intention of flying it.
Thousands of spectators saw the British Aerospace fighter-bomber explode in flames.
A spokesman at the company's Broughton plant near Chester, where the Mosquito was based, said workers were "stunned" by the loss.
Witnesses said the aircraft appeared to stall as the pilot prepared for a dive. An ambulance team found burning wreckage strewn over woodland and open fields.
John Hadfield, flight safety officer at British Aerospace, said both men were highly experienced. The pilot had flown the aircraft many times. The other crew member was believed to be the engineer in charge of looking after the plane on the ground.
Some 8,000 Mosquitos were built by de Havilland and other manufacturers, but their wooden airframes deteriorated over the years. --With files from Star News Services
Windsor Star reporter Doug Schmidt joined a local group of historical aircraft buffs as they ventured into the Arctic to salvage what remained of a Mosquito, a Second World War era bomber.


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