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‘It was a journey’: Historical society brings Fokker jetliner home to Lethbridge

LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. –

Decades after a relic aircraft flew for a Lethbridge airline, it now has returned home for good.

Members of the Time Air Historical Society have been working to bring the Fokker F28-1000 to Lethbridge for the past six years.

Last week, the multi-truck convoy left Saskatoon en route to Lethbridge, where the plane arrived Monday morning.

“I’m very proud of the whole team,” said Rik Barry, chair of the historical society. “It’s been hard to not choke back tears.”

“Lethbridge was the hometown of Time Air. Time Air was started in 1966 as a response to Air Canada that was going to be pulling service a few years later.”

The 1976 passenger jet was one of only 241 built.

Getting the 65-seat piece of history to Lethbridge was a journey.

“We dismantled the wings and part of the tail, loaded those up on one semi and then put the fuselage on another semi and transported them here,” Barry said.

“It was a journey… we had to have Fortis Alberta lift the power lines in order to get the fuselage to the airport and then had to navigate it right beside the terminal onto the tarmac.”

A Fokker F28-1000 passenger jet is being rebuilt in Lethbridge, paving the way for an aviation museum for the city.

Resting on the grounds of the Lethbridge Airport, Barry says the monumental task of reassembling the relic aircraft begins.

“The process of finding the instructions to do it led us all the way to Brisbane, Australia, where a tech school had all the original manufacturing books on the process,” he said.

Crews spent Monday using two cranes to lift the wings off the semi-truck and hoist them to the side of the plane to reattach.

“It’s a very arduous process, to say the least,” said Jesse Millington, the society’s operations director.

“On the wings, as you can see back there, … there are runners along the bottom half and around the sides. It’s about 300-plus bolts per side.”

Barry says the inside of the Fokker is a time capsule.

“There’s still the aircraft safety card from when it was in operation and even the barf bags,” he said. “Nothing has been changed.”

With the plane now on the ground, the society hopes to bring more aircraft to the city, to eventually create an aviation museum in Lethbridge.

“Everybody is doing military and everything like that but, you can see a lot of the military aircraft wherever you go – every museum has one – who has airliners? Nobody does,” Millington said.

“How many people fly a military aircraft? Nobody, except for military pilots. So, the experience and the connectivity that you have with an airliner is a lot more personal.”

Barry says he’s already wanting to bring two or three planes to the airport by the end of the year.

“I can give you a nugget that this will probably not be the largest plane that ends up coming back to Lethbridge,” he said.

The society was able to bring the plane to Lethbridge solely through donations. More information on the society and future projects can be found on the Time Air Historical Society website.

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