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Quesnel plane going home to Switzerland

The experimental aircraft is going to a museum

An experimental aircraft that took to the skies of B.C. is going home to Switzerland after being disassembled for transport in Quesnel.

Inside a hangar at the Quesnel Airport, the small white Long-EZ aircraft was tilted onto its side as Heinz Koch and Werner Wyrsch continued working amid a pile of tools and boxes on Monday, May 30.

The Swissair Fokker Team volunteers have been at it for more than a week getting the aircraft container ready for shipment to the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne.

Koch’s sister, who lives in Quesnel, has been a big help in getting the necessary tools and supplies to prepare the plane for its journey, said Betsy van Halderen.

The Long-EZ aircraft was built by ex Swissair pilot Hans G. Schmid who flew it twice around the world.

It had arrived in Quesnel in October 2003 after van Halderen’s husband bought it on eBay, believing it could serve as a centre piece at the local airport that was experiencing a downturn in airport traffic.

Even before her husband had purchased the plane, van Halderen said she understood it had always been the hope it would go to the Swiss Transport Museum.

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Schmid could not afford to donate it and sold it to a buyer van Halderen’s husband made the purchase from.

Although her husband died about a year later, van Halderen said their son was determined to fly the plane, which proved to be a challenge in getting registered.

“It took him 13 years to get it registered, but he just persevered,” van Halderen said.

The airplane has been at the Abbotsford International Airshow. In 2019, it flew at the Quesnel Skyfest with another Long-EZ aircraft owned by Ken and Kyle Fowler of Rocky Mountain House, Alta.

Once packaged and shipped to Vancouver by truck, the plane will continue by train to Montreal, where it will be loaded on the container ship, Toronto Express.

It won’t arrive in Switzerland at the Transport Museum until the end of the month, Koch and Wrysch said, adding it will be a much smoother and easier process to reassemble.

“I’m very happy that the museum is going to have it—that it will be there for all of the Swiss to enjoy,” van Halderen said. “We’ve enjoyed it here for a while, and then they can do it now.”

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