Volunteers Harry Nagel, John Liddle and Wally Ostenchuck in front of their Bell 206A Jet Ranger project.

It’s been quite a while since we embarked on a major aircraft restoration project at the museum and our volunteers have been itching to rebuild something. There was some concern about the future of the present restoration area due to the furnace replacement, but the board decided it was a valuable part of the museum. So we are moving ahead with our first new project, a ground-up restoration of a Bell 206A Jet Ranger.

“It was basically a wreck that was written off and used as a NAIT training aid,” says museum librarian John Liddle, who is project manager for the Bell. “It previously had flown but it looks like if suffered a lot of structural damage on a hard landing.”

The helicopter is being restored in RCMP colours as part of a display that will pay tribute to the 70 years the Mounties had aircraft based in Edmonton, most of the time at Blatchford Field.

It’s a bit of ‘deja-vu’ for Harry Nagel, one of the volunteer restoration crew. He worked on the same kind of helicopters in the military with 408 Squadron.

Aircraft sheet metal ‘guru’ Don Hitsman drills out a rivet.

“In the military this one would have been known as a [Bell CH-136] Kiowa and used as a light observation helicopter,” says Nagel. “It’s great because this thing isn’t older than I am. The last aircraft I worked on was older than me. So that’s good.”

Also working on the project are aircraft sheet metal ‘guru’ Don Hitsman and long-time volunteer Wally Ostafichuk. Completion is expected to take about a year. We’ll bring you more details as it progresses.