XT752 springs into actionThere were a couple cheers, as the wings of a historic British airplane unfolded and locked into place on Monday.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
There were a couple cheers, as the wings of a historic British airplane unfolded and locked into place on Monday.
It was the first time in years that the Fairey Gannet XT752 had sprung into action.
And even though the aircraft developed a major hydraulic fluid leak on that day, the mood was upbeat at New Richmond Regional Airport.
“We expected these little hiccups,” said owner Shannan Hendricks, a Twin Cities resident.
On Oct. 7, the local airport became the new home of the impressive Fairey Gannet XT752, the only such remaining aircraft in the world.
Built in the United Kingdom in 1954, the dual-control trainer aircraft is one of only eight that were manufactured by the British Navy. The XT752’s original job was to hunt Russian submarines during the Cold War.
After the Fairey Gannet XT752 was taken out of military service, the plane ended up in the United States.
Hendricks said she hopes to have the airplane restored to flying condition over the next 12 to 18 months.
“I’m hoping there’s not going to need to be a lot of work done to it to get it back up and flying,” she said. “Hopefully by March or April of 2012 we’ll see her back in the sky. If it can be done sooner, I would be pleased.”
The restoration will include a complete overhaul and engine parts replacement. The original paint will also be stripped off and the airplane will get a new coat of “totally authentic” paint.
“I think the process has gone really well so far,” Hendricks said.
Right now, the restoration team is being formed to create a plan for how to complete the work. The team already includes a mechanic, an electronics expert and a painter. Hendricks is now trying to find someone to oversee the engine overhaul.
The current team will be in New Richmond through Nov. 11, working on the restoration plans. The airplane will then be dismantled and inspected to see what work needs to be done.
“Then we’ll put it all back together and get it up in the air,” Hendricks said.
The airplanes move to New Richmond, and its restoration, is being followed by camera crews from Discovery Channel’s “Mega Moves” television series.
The Fairey Gannet episode will be completed in the coming months, and a tentative air date is slated for February 2011. The episode will first air in Great Britain and then will be shown in other countries.
The airplane’s owner has recently launched a website so that people can follow the progress of the restoration project, and so that sponsors can be found to help finance the effort. The website can found at www.faireygan netxt752.com.