End of an era for Avenger aircrafts
Published Thursday, July 26, 2012 6:50PM ADT
It’s the end of an era for the Avengers - not the recent movie or old television series, but the Second World War era torpedo bombers that have been fighting forest fires in New Brunswick for years.
The last of the aircraft made their final flight Thursday to the Shearwater Aviation Museum in Nova Scotia.
New Brunswick’s Forest Protection Limited has employed the Avengers since the 1960s. The fleet was once numbered at 30 planes.
“The part supplies are getting tougher and tougher and we’ve gone to new, more modern aircraft to serve the needs of the people of this province,” says David Davies of Forest Protection Ltd.
Those that flew the Avenger in missions over New Brunswick and elsewhere in the region say its original job as a torpedo bomber made it the perfect aircraft for fighting fires and insects.
John Lavigne logged about 1,200 hours flying FPL’s Avengers. Now retired, he says the plane is rugged enough for both jobs.
“Landing on an aircraft carrier for instance, the aircraft carrier is moving and you have to have good undercarriage for it to take all the punishment when you’re landing and water bombing – well the same thing again,” says Lavigne. “If you have to land with a full load, same thing.”
After some brief goodbyes, a few pictures, and a short flight, the Avenger was welcomed in Shearwater, N.S by a crowd that includes former Canadian Navy pilots that flew this very plane in its former life.
“It takes you back in a way that nothing else could, seeing an aircraft that you flew many years ago,” says retired pilot Ed Smith.
In her new home at her museum the aircraft will be restored to its Royal Canadian Navy colours.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell