Certainly a great deal of patience and hard work had been done prior to this point. But, this is it – the one that we’ve all been waiting for. This is the MRP where the B18 stored in Redditt actually moves to Kenora Airport. I must say, it was quite the adventure – and I can’t wait to share it with you!
21 Aug 17:
Our work location – Redditt – actually has quite the interesting history. The town was originally a location for a Canadian National Railway (CNR) roundhouse, but the rail-yard ceased operations in the early 1950s with the switch from steam powered locomotives to diesel. When this switch happened, the rail yards were sold to Ontario Central Airlines, and both a landing field and a repair shop were established. However, it has been quite some time since there was any regular air travel operating out of Redditt Aerodrome.
The sight greeting us at the Main Gate.
Normally, we were focused on getting back there to work on the B18. But, it this case, we were exceptionally interested to see how the B18 faired in the weather. (Since the last time that we were assembled at the aerodrome was back in 2014.)
The passage of time!
Grass growth doesn’t waste any time, does it? “Time and tide” and all that, but still – it was honestly a bit of a shock to see just how high the grass had gotten since we were there last.
Initial Route Recce
Right – the next thing that we were very much interested in is determining the best route off of the aerodrome. (In other words, a route that would be both quick and quite safe for the B18 to travel over.) Thankfully, after some walking around, we were starting to see our options. (And, they were starting to look pretty good!)
22 Aug 17:
Trimming Grass Away from B18
As a matter of fact, this one sounds a lot easier than it actually was, considering where we were starting from with just how high the grass was!
Thankfully, with a great deal of patience, the very tall (and very thick) grass was cut away – making access to the B18 that much easier.
Silly as it may be - a quick word about this last photo – specifically about the RCAF flag flying. It’s the same flag that was flying over the B18 back in 2008, it’s the same flag that was flying over the B18 when my Dad and I were working on her in 2011, and it’s the same flag that I’ve taken with me on my overseas travels.
On the day that the RCAF colours were raised over a former RCAF B18, I must admit, I must have had something in my eye.
Detailed Route Recce
Now that we were making the time to take a far more comprehensive look at potential options, it was determined that exiting the aerodrome in the easterly direction (in other words, towards the main road) would be a safer bet. Granted, the western exit of the aerodrome was a lot closer, but the road from the exit to the main road was quite narrow – and, we just didn’t want to take any chances.
The Route off of the Aerodrome!
23 Aug 17:
Starting Tail Cover Patch
Making sure that time was built into the schedule to work on this area was also of great interest. Work in this area was started with the intent of trying to limit the amount of rain and snow that would be affecting this area. (It was actually a very involved job.) Sheet metal had to be trimmed, the holes hand punched through the sheet metal, and then lockwire was put through the sheet metal holes - and the airframe anchor points. (Nothing fancy at this point, but enough to hold the patch in place.)
A Job Started
Seeing that the job was progressing nicely, and at a natural pause point for it, we decided to move the B18 away from the hanger in a more southerly direction. (Not only because we were looking forward to the move, but also to move the B18 into some wind in order to keep the bug population at a minimum.)
Initial Move (Bugs)
Beginning with us hooking up a tow bar that I signed out from work and….
The Longest Journey....
….zealously checking the landing gear prior to moving her, we then very carefully rolled her forward. Seeing that these tires were the original ones that she last flew on (in January of 1975), we wanted to make sure that we didn’t do anything to quickly. Not seeing any issues, we continued to move her….
....begins with a single step.
….being very careful to keep a weather eye open for any issues or hidden gremlins that might have popped up. And then – just like that - we arrived where we wanted to be, safe and sound. (With a fairly agreeable amount of wind to keep the bug population down.) Who knew that mosquito netting would be deemed “Mission Critical” kit?
A quick look back.
Exhaling a deep breath and pausing in our work briefly, we took a look back where she’d spent a good deal of her life since she last flew. Then, we got back to work.
Install Emergency Exit Hatch
Looking at how easy this tasking was completed – it’s quite clear that all the work that had been done on previous MRP’s really paid off! The hatch was installed very quickly and very efficiently with minimal if any problems.
In case I forget - as you can see, we didn’t install ordinary aircraft windows. We were able to get a fair amount of aircraft grade aluminum and then we trimmed it down to fit in the windows. After that, we were able to trim down cardboard to put behind the aluminum as to provide some thickness. Then, we put metal tape outside the windows. So, it would be natural to ask the question - Why are we going to such detail with regards to closing in the airframe? Great question! Not only were we concerned about the weather, but Kenora Airport is an active airport (unlike Reddit), and we wanted to make sure that she would be secured enough to put on the active ramp. Granted, we’re not going to fully stop either the weather (or anyone/thing) from coming into the B18 – but, we’re sure going to slow it down!
24 Aug 17:
Finish Tail Cover Patch
Easy enough to say quickly with regards to completing the tasking. (Easy – but also very time consuming.) After all the lockwire was added to the holes, then it was properly twisted. (Each and every one of them.) Then, when that was done, metal tape was put over the edge of the sheet metal and the lockwire. (That way, the chances of weather coming into the area was significantly reduced.)
Finish Closing in Main Cabin Windows
Very quickly the same process that was previously discussed for the Emergency Exit Hatch re the window (with the sheet metal and cardboard insert) was needed to be completed fairly quickly.
Each and every Main Cabin Window had to be done that way, and with a great deal of success. Again, not terribly complicated – but very time consuming and very, very hot!
Install Main Cabin Door
Initially, I was quite concerned about this little tasking – considering all the grief that we’d had over previous MRP’s. But, I really shouldn’t have worried as this was another clear example of another tasking that really benefited from all the work done on previous MRP’s! It was exceptionally easy to install the hinges of the Main Cabin Door (due to previous work) – and to successfully hang the door!
25 Aug 17:
Move B18 to Kenora Airport
Now it all came down to this – the big move. (For simplicity sake - it was decided very early on to move the B18 on her landing gear.) It’s worth noting that while it was simpler, it sure required a lot of planning! (The main Highway out of Redditt – Hwy 658 – was undergoing a lot of construction at the time.) And, moving the B18 like that required a Wide Load Permit - plus a whole lot of planning and even more patience.
You might be quite nervous about it, and you may want to delay it for any number of reasons. But, very quickly, we were set up and all ready to go.
Out of the mists of time, the B18 leaves her old aerodrome. And then – just like that – we were making history.
Usually, that would be it for the tasking. But – then – we had the relatively minor job of moving her safely down the road.
Making the First Turn.
Just past the Legion and coming up to the Fire Hall.
North of the Town of Redditt.
Making the turn onto Highway 658
One final stop before the Trans Canada Highway to check the B18.
Just arrived at Kenora Airport - what a relief!
My – let me tell you - it certainly was quite the drive. (Rest assured, it was very memorable.) Boiled down, it took a great deal of teamwork (with the TTA Staff who were present on the MRP), a bit of luck (thankfully the weather cooperated!), and a great deal of planning to get this MRP successfully concluded. The key take-away, though - is, even though she just moved from an former aerodrome to a current (and very busy) airport - next year is when the work is really going to start!