2014 might be the year when restoration on the Canso is complete.
Several years ago, six Fairview farmers began a mammoth project: they would rescue and restore a Canso PBY 5, a Canadian built war plane used during the Second World War to hunt German U-boats over the Atlantic. After the war the plane returned to Canada for service running freight to and from the Arctic. After about 30 years, it was then converted into a water bomber to fight forest fires in Newfoundland and Labrador for a further three decades.
This particular plane was obviously of great historical significance and worthy of restoration. The problem was, the Canso had met what was considered its end after it sank in Sitidgi lake, far off in the wilderness of tundra and permafrost near Inuvik.
Further complicating the matter was a 2002 salvage operation which brought the plane to the shore but deprived it of its engines. So, incapable of flying, abandoned in the middle of nowhere, the Canso seemed a lost cause.
However, Peace Country farmers can be indomitable. There is a website and plenty of articles describing the mission to rescue and restore the Canso which tell the story best, but in short the plane was recovered and brought to Fairview for restoration. Missing parts were found (although the crew is still on the lookout for a few things) and it looks as if the Canso will take to the air once again, perhaps even in 2014.
To see pictures and video of the Canso rescue and restoration project, go to savethecanso.com. You’ll also find pictures of similar planes in operation during their long histories, meet the rescuers, and find plenty of links to further information.
Warbirds News has posted an article about the operation.
Good luck and congratulations to all involved with the Save the Canso mission!