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DC-3 plane restored for special mission
A DC-3 plane sitting in a hangar at 17 Wing in Winnipeg isn't exactly in mint condition. But you should have seen it in 2017.
"It had been sitting out in a field for many years," said Gord Crossley, a heritage officer at 17 Wing.
"One of the work we had to do along with a contractor, was to clean out the years and years of rats nests and mouse nests and so on."
A sad fate for any plane, but this one in particular. It's called the Spirit of Ostra Brama.
During the Second World War, it was used as the personal transport of General Kazimierz Sosnkowski, the Polish Armed Forces leader in exile. "You might call it the Air Force One of the Polish military," said Crossley.
But after spending decades as a commercial plane, it was eventually salvaged for parts.
The aircraft later became the property of the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada. And then in 2002, when its military history was discovered, it was transferred to 17 wing.
"We're talking about one or two people who were able to see this diamond in the rough, and trace back it's inheritance," said Colonel Eric Charron, the Wing Commander of 17 Wing Winnipeg. "It's certainly a small miracle."
And just as miraculous was the work by 17 Wing's "Ghost Squadron" who brought it back to life. They're a team of volunteers who rolled up their sleeves and dedicated countless hours to its restoration.
"For us it wasn't too bad," said Gord Crossley. "We were working outdoors, so we always had to have good weather. Quite often we'd go and set up the paint and the wind would blow our spray paint away."
But they persisted. And that led directly to this day. The plane is being donated to the Polish government, where it will be fully restored and placed in a museum.
"It is significant. Both personally and historically for the polish nation," said Andrzej Ruta, the President of the Polish Combatants Association of Canada.
And a symbol of the enduring friendship between our two countries.