Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Original 'Gimli Glider' can be yours for a few million

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WANT to own a piece of Manitoba history, albeit a very large piece of history?

If so, you're in luck: The infamous Air Canada Boeing 767 that made history as the Gimli Glider is up for auction in April.

But you'll need to have a bit of money in your bank account.

Terry Lobzun, of Collector Car Productions, the company holding the auction via a video presentation at the Toronto Classic Car Auction on April 14, said the aircraft's owners are expecting to get from $2.75 million to $3 million for it.

"It can be flyable and it can be delivered," Lobzun said on Thursday from the company's offices in Blenheim, Ont.

"To get it back into service, they'd have to jump through some hoops and it probably wouldn't be economically feasible, but it can be flyable to deliver it to be put on display. It would be nice to see it at the Western Canada Aviation Museum or Gimli.

"But if it went to Gimli, you'd just have to let the motorsport people know it's coming this time," he said laughing.

The plane is currently housed at a facility in California.

The aircraft gained fame when, because of a fuel conversion error between metric and imperial units, not enough fuel was taken on before it was bound for Edmonton on July 23, 1983.

The plane's engines ran out of fuel at 41,000 feet and the powerless plane was glided to the former air force base in Gimli, forcing spectators at a drag strip to get out of the way. Nobody was injured.

The aircraft flew regularly until it was retired from service in 2008.

If the plane returns to Manitoba, it probably won't be parked at the aviation museum.

Shirley Render, the museum's executive director, said while the plane landed in Gimli with empty fuel tanks almost 30 years ago, it is still too new for their collection.

"It's too much on what people fly today," Render said.

"Our focus is on the old planes which people don't know too much about... it would be lovely but it wouldn't be on our dream list."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 22, 2013 A7

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