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Community invited to airplane's 'rebirth'

After a lengthy restoration process, the historic Fairey Gannet XT-752 airplane which is housed at the New Richmond Regional Airport is ready for its official unveiling.

The public is invited to Hangar 11-12 from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 8, to see the newly restored British warplane, nicknamed "Janet the Gannet."

Owned by Shannan Hendricks from the Twin Cities, and whose restoration was guided by Harry Odone, the XT-752 arrived in New Richmond in the fall of 2010.

The Fairey Gannet XT752, built in the United Kingdom in 1954, 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. It eventually found a permanent home in New Richmond.

Hendricks said she is thrilled to share the big unveiling with the community.

"I can say without doubt I and the team are so excited to see her come out of the hangar to see sunshine for the first time in a very long time," she said. "Everyone can be proud that New Richmond is her home."

Hendricks estimated that Odone has logged more than 5,000 hours of work during the restoration process.

"The entire team that now look after her are amazing and virtually all are local to New Richmond," she said. "They have learned over a period of time everything needed to preserve this unique aircraft."

There will be several visiting planes and war birds on hand for the evening event. The Del Vincents Band will provide music. The American Legion will be on hand selling concessions.

Hendricks said the first flight of the airplane won't happen until later on. The last time the Fairey Gannet was airborne was in 2004, with Odone at the controls.

The crew is waiting for the weather to stabilize prior to scheduling the first flight, she explained.

Hendricks has said she plans to develop a museum with the Fairey Gannet as its signature aircraft.

Plans call for educational opportunities for young and old alike, including a local flight school. The hope is to provide young people a chance to experience the excitement of flying and encourage them to pursue careers as pilots or aerospace engineers.