After one of the most complicated recovery and restoration efforts in warbird history, much of the town of Fairview, AB turned out to watch a PBY Canso lift off from the local airport for its official first flight on Father’s Day. The aircraft is a former RCAF Canso that hunted submarines in the North Atlantic in the Second World War. It’s second career as a water bomber ended during a rough landing that holed the hull on Sitidgi Lake in the Northwest Territories in 2001. The owner, Buffalo Airways, hauled the aircraft to shore and salvaged the engines but left the airframe beside the lake. That’s where the Fairview Aircraft Restoration Society stepped in.
In 2008 they dragged, trailered and barged the aircraft to Fairview and, over eight years, restored it to flying condition. Veteran Canso pilot Bill Brady was at the controls for the June 18 flight. “It flies beautifully, nice and straight,” he told the CBC. “”It flew just like a Canso. Very heavy on the controls,” he said. “You use an awful lot of rudder which you don’t [use] on most airplanes.” Two Second World War Canso pilots, James McRae, 99, and Hal Burns, 94, were on hand for the event. The society plans to use the aircraft as a flying museum to educate people about Canada’s wartime aviation contribution.