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Rare 'Wooden Wonder' to make public debut

The de Havilland Mosquito arriverd at Abbotsford International Airport yesterday for its scheduled performances at the annual airshow. This is one of two flyable Mosquitoes left in the world. - Mike Head photo
The de Havilland Mosquito arriverd at Abbotsford International Airport yesterday for its scheduled performances at the annual airshow. This is one of two flyable Mosquitoes left in the world.
— image credit: Mike Head photo

One of the most buzzed-about performers at this year's Abbotsford International Airshow will be the public debut of one of only two flyable de Havilland DH.98 Mosquitoes in the world.

Known as the "Wooden Wonder" – crews also called it "Mossie" – the Mosquito was built for the Second World War and constructed almost entirely out of wood.

"When strategic materials like metal were running short at the end of the war, they started constructing these aircraft out of plywood," said airshow president Jim Reith. "It turned out to be a phenomenal airplane, performance-wise, because it was light and very versatile."

The plane could fly exceptionally high and was used in a range of roles – as a fighter, a pathfinder, and a bomber.

Today, though, they are rare and only two can take to the skies.

"Because they were made of wood, almost none of them survived," Reith said.

The rebuilt Mosquito that will be flying in Abbotsford has been a years-long project and boasts a pair of Merlin engines typically seen in Spitfires.

The Mosquito has been modelled after, and painted to resemble, the F For Freddy, a legendary plane that survived a record 213 operations over Europe during the war. It crashed just days after war ended in Europe while its two-person crew was performing low-altitude flybys in Calgary to celebrate the end of hostilities.

The rebuilt plane will make its first public appearance in Abbotsford and will be piloted by renowned test pilot Steve Hinton, who is also president of Planes of Fame Air Museum in California.

"In the aviation world, especially in the warbird community, Steve Hinton is about as big as name as it gets," said the airshow's Mike Luedey.

He foresees the Mosquito's debut drawing aviation fanatics from across North American and Europe. He also said the airshow will host several veterans who flew the planes during the war.

The Mosquito will take to the skies over Abbotsford Saturday and Sunday.

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