A piece of flying history sailed into Patricia Bay Monday afternoon.
The barge carrying a historic CP-121 Tracker landed on the shores of North Saanich in the penultimate leg of its journey to the BC Aviation Museum in North Saanich.
“We’ve been waiting for, it seems like years,” said Doug Rollins, the museum librarian.
He was happy to see it land safely amid slight concern over breeze and tides. The Tracker’s dramatic move was filmed in part by the Discovery Channel for broadcast on its popular Highway Thru Hell reality program. The channel filmed the first legs of the journey, starting in the Fraser Valley in January.
Called a Cold War warrior, it was designed specifically for anti-submarine patrolling, Rollins said. Canada built 99 of them and flew them regularly off carrier HMCS Bonaventure, and later land bases in Pat Bay on the Saanich Peninsula and Comox up Island.
When the Bonaventure was retired in 1970 the aircraft were repurposed to more maritime patrol roles for nearly 25 years. The Trackers were retired in 1990.
“This one kind of fell into our lap,” Rollins said.
The aircraft was originally in a military education centre in Chilliwack, (they got it from Conair where it sat in a spares pile). That centre closed, and the historic plane went into storage, before it was gifted to the BC Aviation Museum, which is is funding the roughly $10,000 cost of the move.
Restoration will start as soon as it lands and residents will be able to see as it sits outside the hangar at 1910 Norseman Rd.
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