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After being grounded for almost 10 years, the "Fairey Gannet" returned to the skies on Aug. 9 after taking off at New Richmond Regional Airport.

Historic airplane returns to flight

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news New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

For nearly a decade, XT-752 has been grounded due to its declining condition.

But on Aug. 9, after years of restoration efforts, it took to the skies above New Richmond to the cheers of onlookers. It's last flight was in 2004.

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Harry Odone, who has guided the historic airplane's return to flight, piloted the historic 1950's-era British warplane that evening.

"She took to the air like she was brand new," Odone said. "It seemed like she wanted to fly. She flew absolutely perfectly. It was quite pleasant, really."

Odone said he was a bit nervous as the pre-flight checks were completed, but it didn't take long for him to get comfortable after takeoff.

"There's a lot that goes through your mind before you take off," he admitted. "You have to expect the unexpected."

Since the Fairey Gannet's flight, Odone said the restored airplane has received a lot of attention from media outlets around the world. Magazines in France and Germany are already planning features on the XT-752's return to the air. Several television programs are also anticipated.

The airplane's owner, Shannan Hendricks, said she is excited about all the attention the Fairey Gannet is getting.

"I'm overwhelmed with the amazing positive effect she is having around the world, from aviation historians to international media," she commented. "Many European countries are already contacting me to see if she would come over to visit and display at their shows, not to mention the many here at home. She attracts a huge amount of attention wherever she goes which is fantastic, especially for the team who has put thousands of hours in to get to this point."

Thanks to the help from sponsors and partners, such as AkzoNobel, who are the biggest aerospace paint manufacturers in the world, Hendricks said, the XT-752 has found its second life.

She said the airplane will make a few appearances during the fall, but the vast majority of the planning going on now is for the 2014 schedule. Next year is the airplane's 60th anniversary year.

"We are also bringing to the forefront our plans for a very unique historic museum of education with airworthy historic aircraft," Hendricks said. "Our plans include seminars and classes for people of all ages who would like to have a path in aviation either in historic preservation or as flight crew, creating employment as it grows."

For more information about the airplane, visit http://www.faireygannetxt752.com.

The Fairey Gannet XT-752, built in the United Kingdom in 1954, is one of only eight that were manufactured by the British Navy. The XT-752's original job was to hunt Russian submarines during the Cold War.

After the Fairey Gannet was taken out of military service, the plane ended up in the United States. It eventually found a permanent home in New Richmond more than two years ago.

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