| Posted: Monday, Apr 14, 2014 05:00 pm
After more than 40 years on the ground, a St. Albert jet plane took off once again – by crane.
At midnight Sunday, the Lockheed T-33AN Silver Star 3 (T-Bird) was lifted of its pedestal in front of the St. Albert Legion at 6 Taché St. and moved to a temporary holding position behind the Hemingway Centre.
The city decided to move the jet after a car hit its pedestal last week and removed a large chunk of concrete from the structure, thus rendering it unsafe. City manager Patrick Draper referred to the incident as a "hit and run" in a press release Monday. City officials are now deciding when and where to remount the plane, said David Hales, general manager of planning and engineering.
"We haven't determined plans for remounting it," he said. "It's an opportunity to assess the condition of (the plane) while it's on the ground. It's been on the pedestal since 1978 so we want to make sure that everything is in order before we put it back."
The T-Bird was first moved in front of the St. Albert Legion on Oct. 22, 1978. The Lions Club had donated it to the city in honour of St. Albert's air cadets.
The 5,000-pound jet had served as a training aircraft from 1954 until 1959 in Manitoba. The model was known as one of the best jet trainers ever and was flown in Canada for 50 years, according to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.
Hales stressed that the city is not planning to move the jet out of sight permanently. But for now it will remain behind the building and be fenced off to protect it from direct contact with curious residents, he said.
"The site was picked because it's paved," he said. "We didn't want to damage any fields around it and obviously moving something like that you need a fairly solid site."
Future home in park
Once it's been looked over, the T-Bird may not return to its pedestal in front of the legion.
The downtown area redevelopment plan (DARP) shows that Taché Street will one day be turned into a narrow roadway and pedestrian path connecting the future expansion of St. Anne Street with Sir Winston Churchill Avenue.
A map of the area shows that the jet is then expected to move north of its current position into Millennium Park, a proposed multi-use park by the river.
Now that the jet has been removed from its pedestal, it could be relocated to this new position, said Mayor Nolan Crouse. Otherwise, returning it to the pedestal on Taché Street and then moving it again may just be a waste of money, he said.
"In (DARP) there is a location that was closer to Lions Park," he said. "And that was my suggestion on the weekend. When we are going to put it back up, put it up in the right spot."
Crouse added that there was some confusion as to who owns the jet. While the Lions Club donated it in the 1970s, the city is responsible for it.
Both the legion and the city are now working on a plan on how to best protect the jet, and where it should move.
But it will remain in the city, said Crouse.
"St. Albert has a significant history of its legion, of the Lions Club, of the cadets," said Crouse. "It's important to remember the history of war … so there's no question we'll be keeping it."