This aircraft was restored by the Museum’s New Brunswick Wing of Volunteers. On the evening of May 20, 1975 a contractor operating TBM Avenger, CF-ZYC, call sign “Tanker 20″, took off from the Juniper Airstrip in New Brunswick. Flying the aircraft was an experienced contract pilot who was flying a normal spray mission. Minutes after takeoff the Avenger lost power and the pilot had no choice but to make a wheels-up crash landing in the woods. Thankfully, the pilot managed to walk away from the crash shaken but not seriously injured. He had hit his head on the instrument panel hard enough to crack his helmet and was knocked unconscious for a couple of minutes. The strength of the TBM Avenger design probably saved his life. Two other pilots who have crash landed Avengers in 1998 and 1999 also walked away without serious injury. A testament to the strength of the Grumman design.
The Avenger was designed by Grumman as a torpedo bomber to fly off of aircraft carriers for the United States Navy. It saw action in World War II and was flown by many Air Arms including the Royal Canadian Navy, which operated Avengers until the late 1950’s when the last ones were replaced by the Tracker. The Avenger has proven to be a ruggedly designed, long lasting airframe. The first Avengers to be operated in the Water Bomber role, in Atlantic Canada, appeared in New Brunswick in 1958. A fleet of six Avengers with four reserve aircraft continue to operate in 1999. The civilian fire fighting Avenger outlasting its military role easily without an end in sight.
In the summer of 1996, a group of ACAM members approached the New Brunswick Forest Protection Limited (FPL) and J.D. Irving Woodlands, owner of the land where the crash site of CF-ZYC was located, regarding recovering this valuable piece of aviation history. A plan was developed for the recovery and restoration of the Avenger to its Water Bomber configuration. The Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum is pleased to add the Avenger to our collection, in it’s civilian role. (A military Avenger is currently displayed at the Shearwater Aviation Museum.) The restoration work is being carried out by the New Brunswick Wing of the Museum with the help of Forest Protection Limited and the Moncton Community College.
While recovering an aircraft from a crash site may seem easy, the recovery of CF-ZYC was not. The aircraft was located in dense alders 1,000 feet from the nearest logging road. In addition to the clearing of alders and trees to the road, the recovery team also had to cross a stream in order to reach the logging road. The actual recovery effort began in the fall of 1996. The aircraft was jacked up, landing gear lowered, wings and tail surfaces removed. When it came time to move ZYC in the winter, it was towed on skies designed by John Mossman and manufactured out of guard rail sections by Caldwell and Ross Construction in Fredericton. Finally, the aircraft was moved from the crash site to the Juniper airstrip on January 10, 1997. The same airfield it departed 22 years earlier.
In July of 1997, the remains of CF-ZYC were transported to the Forest Protection Limited base in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Here, Museum volunteers are in the process of restoring the aircraft. The Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum would like to thank FPL for their assistance in the ongoing restoration effort and for providing a location for the New Brunswick Wing to work on CF-ZYC. As well, FPL has provided the museum with parts from the crashes of Tanker 14 (1998) and Tanker 17 (1999) for use in the restoration of Tanker 20. We would also like to thank the Aircraft Maintenance School in Moncton for their support, as well. The Maintenance School has provided hours of technical support and restoration work. This partnership with the School provides many benefits for both the students and the Museum. Namely, a practical project for the students to work on, while the Museum benefits from the expert help that the students and staff provide.
The Summer of 2005 saw the Avenger Project come to completion and the aircraft was transferred from the New Brunswick Wing’s restoration site in Fredericton to the Museum in Halifax by Atlantic Pacific Transport Ltd. The support of Beaver Coughlan, Ian Oliver and Stewart Finnamore. The Avenger has been reassembled in Halifax and is now on public display. Her restoration has impressed everyone that views her. For more information on the Avenger’s transport and reassembly at ACAM see the Fall 2005 and Winter 2006 issue of our newsletter.
The Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum would like to thank the following organizations for their contributions:
-New Brunswick Forest Protection Limited
-The Aircraft Maintenance School, Moncton Campus, NB Community College
-J.D. Irving Woodlands Division
-Caldwell and Ross Construction
-Glassville Logging Company
-R.S. Coughlan Transport
A full list of conributers is found in the Winter Newsletter 2006 issue.
The Museum would also like to thank the dozens of volunteers that have contributed, in any form, to the recovery and restoration of CF-ZYC.