An eight-year restoration project culminated with the first flights of what is now the world's only flyable de Havilland Mosquito fighter bomber in New Zealand. Mosquito KA114 flew from Ardmore Airport to Mangere on Thursday. It was the first time a Mosquito had flown since 1996 when the last surviving example crashed at the Barton Air Show in England. The aircraft is owned by Jerry Yagen, owner of Fighter Factory in Virginia Beach, Va., and after being displayed at Ardmore over the weekend is expected to be crated and shipped to Virginia. The restoration, which was practically a ground-up reconstruction, was done by Glyn Powell and Mike Tunnicliffe. (Video at right.)
Yagen bought the crumbling hull, which was built in Toronto in 1945, from a small British Columbia museum in 2004. The aircraft was reportedly stored outside for much of that time and not much was salvageable. Powell and Tunnicliffe had to re-create the massive molds used to shape the plywood for much of the airframe. Computerized woodworking equipment helped with the manufacture of smaller parts and the structure of the aircraft was ready after about three years. The good news is that the molds are reusable and more Mosquitoes are likely to be built. The airframe parts were moved to AvSpecs, a renowned warbird rebuilder at Ardmore for assembly and systems installation.