When Dr.(PhD) Andrew Bryant suggested a Spitfire tour to his sister Dana Bryant and her husband Mike Guiguere, they had no idea that they would be some of the very few people who would witness the last moments the Roseland Spitfire would spend in Comox.
Most people in this community are no doubt aware of the Roseland Spitfire/Y2K project. For the last 14 years this rescued-from- the-junk-heap airplane was cared for and lovingly put back together by volunteers from the Comox Air Force Museum. The incredible amount of time and money needed to restore this WWII icon to flying condition meant that in 2012, Vintage Wings of Canada took over the project.
Today Vintage Wings of Canada representatives and members of the Heritage Aircraft Team carefully loaded the fuselage onto a flatbed truck to begin the journey to it’s new home in Gatineau, Quebec.
“I never thought I would see the Spitfire fly.” joked Dr. Bryant as the huge crane hoisted the fuselage into the air. For a moment it was possible to imagine how it might look in the future, flying high into the sky.
When asked how it the move went, the crane operator Brett, said succinctly that moving an aircraft like this is “prickly.” This was not Brett’s first time moving an aircraft, in fact he has moved over a dozen aircraft in the last few years. He has hoisted planes from the Courtenay slough, moved private planes, and worked as a heli-logger doing remote maintenance. The Spitfire was in good hands.
It was a bittersweet moment for Jon Ambler, Terry Chester, Mike Forbes, and Irv Fraser, who have spent many hours with this extraordinary piece of history. Although there have been some critics, I believe it’s fair to say that this project brought people in the community together, and it certainly served as the main focus of effort for many volunteer members for the last 14 years.
Having the Spitfire fly was the dream and that dream is another step closer to reality as the plane makes it’s way across country to Quebec. The next time the residents of the Comox Valley see this plane, it will be flying.
The Comox Air Force Museum wishes to thank the many volunteers who took this project this far, to 19 Wing Comox, and to Vintage Wings for taking on the task of finishing the restoration. In their hands, the Spitfire will fly and people all across Canada will know the story of local hero F/L Arnold Roseland and how a small town on Vancouver Island came together to rescue a piece of our Air Force heritage from the junkyard.