Kurtis Weddel photo.
As we start a new year, our thoughts often focus on change, new beginnings, new habits and goals. By now, most people in Red Lake will have seen the town’s beloved Norseman floatplane on display again by the head of Howey bay. Carefully, on October 15, 2021 it was put back up in the park where it previously “flew” for nearly 26 years. Having been off its perch for over three years, the reappearance is like a soft reopening for the popular annual festival.
For the background story on what happened to DRD and why it needed to be taken down and rebuilt see these posts from this blog; http://www.norsemanfestival.on.ca/red-lake-hailstorm/ and http://www.norsemanfestival.on.ca/red-lake-hailstorm-update/
June 20, 2018 DRD’s wings were trailered to Northland Aircraft Service in Ignace, Ontario for refurbishment. Gord Hughes and Duane Riddell discuss their condition. Note Gord’s yellow Mk IV Norseman CF-DTL in the background.
A major fundraising drive went into effect to not simply patch DRD up, but rather to have the foresight to do a proper job and tailor the restoration for longevity in the elements as a static display. As such, the airplane is no longer operational and access points, inspection panels and spaces for opportunistic birds are sealed or netted off. The airplane should easily last another 23 years and celebrate its 100th birthday! DRD first went up and was dedicated at the first official festival in July of 1992 attended by Bob Noorduyn Jr., son of the Norseman designer.
Red Lakers and enthusiasts worldwide can be justifiably proud of all the hard work that went into the team effort to have this community symbol and historic aircraft start a new chapter in its legacy. Having served the area at various times before retirement, the decision was made to keep the restoration work as local as possible. The wooden wings went to Ignace, Ontario where Gord Hughes tackled the damage and this resulted in his usual excellent craftsmanship. Those that have expertise in critical wood aircraft structures are getting few and far between. Superior Airways of Red Lake donated hangar space for work on the floats and Red Lake Seaplane Service brought the end result all together as we see it now. Of note, in 1992 and 2021 this was the same final assembly location and when DRD is rededicated next summer it will be almost exactly 30 years later.
So Norseman Festival 2022 will sort of be reinvigorated and there is talk of a pilots/AME reunion among the events. Thank you to all who donated and/or volunteered in the rebuild project and we can look forward to a fun, successful festival next summer full of community spirit!