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Second World War plane wings into town soon

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A classic war-era plane is preparing to spread its famously sturdy wings over Winnipeg.

This weekend, a 1943 Boeing PT-27 Stearman, owned by Quebec-based non-profit Vintage Wings, will be landing in the city as part of its spring tour. The model was a cornerstone of Second World War flight training and later became a big hit with wing-walking acrobats and rural farmers. This particular aircraft got its start at a Royal Canadian Air Force training school in Bowden, Alta.

After that, the plane's history grows murky. It was eventually found and restored in the United States and sold to Vintage Wings in 2011.

"This plane has many lives," said Western Canada Aviation Museum executive director Shirley Render, who will welcome the plane to the museum on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. "It was rugged, it had an instrument panel, it could handle big G-forces. So it could really prepare the pilot for acrobatics."

The one negative about the Stearman? It was an open-cockpit aircraft. "So needless to say, it was pretty cold," Render chuckled.

Aviation fans will get to see for themselves when the 7.54-metre-long plane drops into the museum. Its two-person flying crew will be in attendance to chat with visitors, who will have a chance to clamber into the cockpit. The plane will be on display from noon to 5 p.m. on Monday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday and 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

"One of the very interesting things about this particular plane is it was used after the war and can still be used today," Render said. "Not every plane has a lifespan that begins in the 1940s and can still be flying today."

Winnipeggers will also get a chance to see the Snowbirds demonstration team (431 Squadron), the iconic Canadian Forces aerobatics team, this weekend.

The Snowbirds will perform manoeuvres over the city on Saturday, with the best vantage point at The Forks.

The 30-minute show begins at 3 p.m.

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 17, 2012 0

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