Mount Hope takes flight with gateway project featuring Beechcraft Musketeer
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The Mount Hope Village Gateway Project is one step closer to a safe landing. In a release Wednesday, the city announced the completion of the installation of the Beechcraft CT-134 Musketeer plane at the south entrance of the rural Hamilton community at Homestead Drive and Highway 6. The yellow aircraft, built in 1971, was donated by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum back in 2017. Under an agreement through the city, the museum will still own the airplane and maintain it. If the museum wants to take the airplane back, another will be found to take its place. The single-engine, low-wing, four-seat Musketeers flew for 21 years, training about 5,000 Canadian pilots. The one that now sits perched in Mount Hope was retired from the Canadian Air Force in 1992, after 10 years of service at the No. 3 Flying Training School in Portage la Prairie, Man. There, it was a primary trainer for pilots who later transitioned to jets. Once retired, the plane was dismantled and put into storage. In 2012, it was acquired by the museum and has since been restored with the exact markings it would have had in the Air Force. The gateway design honours the Royal Canadian Air Force Station that was located at the Mount Hope Airport, which was home to the British Commonwealth Air Training Program #10 Elementary Flying School. In addition, it was also the location for the 424 “Tiger” Squadron that was based in Mount Hope until 1964. The plan for the project took flight in 2019. At that time, council voted to work toward an agreement with the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum to install and maintain a decommissioned Musketeer aircraft as part of the welcoming design of a gateway feature for the community. And even then, the project was already three years in the making, according to Ward 11 Coun. Brenda Johnson. The original plan would have seen the plane installed in the spring of 2020, just as COVID-19 made its way to Hamilton. According to city spokesperson Michelle Shantz, the cost to complete the project is estimated at $265,000. That includes the design, landscaping as well as preparing and mounting the plane, maintaining it and installing a heritage plaque.