The Spitfire returns

Y2K Spitfire
The Y2K Spitfire. Photo: 19 Wing Imaging

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19 Wing Public Affairs

The Y2K Spitfire returned home to 19 Wing Comox on July 31, thrilling the organizers of the Y2K Homecoming Celebration, Comox Air Force Museum volunteers, and members of the 19 Wing Defence Team.

Spitfire TE 294 was built by Vickers Armstrong at Castle Bromwich, UK in 1944. It served with the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1946, and was sold to the South African Air Force (SAAF) in 1947. It was damaged in a landing accident in 1951, written off and sold for scrap disposal, and was then acquired by the SAAF Museum for restoration. It was put in storage, and eventually, in 1990, a Canadian purchased it. It was a decade later that the Comox Air Force Museum acquired it, and the Y2K Project began.

The first open house for the Y2K Project was held in 2005, thus beginning the Comox Valley’s love affair with the aircraft. In 2009, Vintage Wings took the project over, as a means of seeing the restoration through to the end. The aircraft was disassembled and shipped to Gatineau, Quebec in 2014, and the following year, Vintage Wings reconstructed the aircraft and restarted it. Wings were mounted in 2016; it was placed on wheels and had all systems installed.

Test flights and painting took place in 2017, and the Y2K Spitfire TE 294 made its debut at AirVenture Oshkosh 2018, the world’s greatest aviation celebration in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Y2K Spitfire pilot Dave Hadfield completed the story on July 31 when he arrived for the Y2K Homecoming Celebration, marshalled in by 19 Wing Commander (retired) Stocky Edwards. A gala banquet was held on August 8 at 19 Wing Comox, bringing out members of the Y2K restoration team, supporters from the Comox Valley, and Spitfire enthusiasts from afar.

“The historic gala banquet was a complete and spectacular success,” said Colonel (retired) Jon Ambler, program manager and volunteer coordinator at the Comox Air Force Museum.

For more information on the Y2K restoration, visit vintagewings.ca.

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