Rare warbird gets closer to flight

By Denise Montgomery

One of the country's most challenging warbird restorations is inching closer to completion.

The team at Ardmore's AvSpecs has been working on the all-wood World War II de Havilland Mosquito FB 26 KA114 for almost eight years and last month wheeled the warbird outside for a glimpse of the sky its restorers hope it will fly in this year.  

AvSpecs owner Warren Denholm is tentatively excited about where they're at with the plane's meticulous restoration.

"They say with things like this, once they're 90 per cent finished, there's still 90 per cent to go," he says.

But in the next six months all wiring and system checks will be completed, and the Mosquito will head off for a paint job that will take around a month. After further extensive checks the test flight will take place, using a local pilot.

So who can actually fly a Mosquito, given that none are flying?

"Local pilots do all our test flying," explains Warren. "They are amongst the best around and although they have no specific Mosquito experience they are themselves highly qualified."

The owner of the plane, American Jerry Yagen who owns dozens of warbirds in his Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, United States,  was pleased to see the plane's progress in the video. He's awaiting final delivery to add to his collection, one of the largest private collections of World War One and World War II military aircraft in the world, all restored to their original condition.

When it's airborne, it will be the first flying Mosquito in the world. The plan is for it to be certified in New Zealand before going on display at a special show planned at Ardmore, ahead of its delivery to the US. It will then have to be recertified in the US before it can fly in a show there.

Warren expects plenty of interest from the public when it appears at Ardmore.

"It will be a unique opportunity for people to see the plane. We're expecting that to happen in the third quarter this year."

With the completion of another restoration project at Avspecs, there are now more people working full-time on the Mosquito than there have ever been.

"It's moved to the front of the queue," says Warren. "And over the next few months we'll be running the engines - this plane is our primary project right now."

Wooden wings of the Mosquito.

AvSpecs has become the go-to site for wealthy vintage aircraft enthusiasts. Its praises are sung by warplane collectors and fliers worldwide.

In the October issue of Flypast magazine Matt Nightingale, leader of a team reassembling the Curtiss P-40C Tomahawk at California's Planes of Fame Museum, described the restoration work recently done by Avspecs on the plane as "glorious, and one of the best I have seen on any aircraft." The P-40 went on to win first place in the Warbird category at the National Aviation Heritage Trophy competition at the recent Reno Air Races.

And while the Mosquito's restoration has been a long time in the making, the sense of satisfaction will be when all those who have worked on it see it take to New Zealand skies for the first time later this year.

Follow the Mosquito's progress on Facebook

See the video of the Mosquito being taken outside in December.

Have your say in the Comment box below.

- The Aucklander

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