A plane from a legendary airline company from the 1950s will be in the spotlight Saturday when Hamilton business and basketball legend Ron Foxcroft is honored at an event in downtown Hamilton.
The owner of Fluke Transportation and creator of the Fox 40 whistle says a restored twin-engine Piper plane will be the “big jewel” unveiled at a ceremony marking Marie and Ron Foxcroft Day at the Eva Rothwell Center.
“This was the first twin-engine plane to fly into the Toronto Island airport,” Foxcroft, a former NCAA basketball referee, told 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show.
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“On Saturday, there will be 16 Central Airways pilots who actually flew this plane into the airport. It is absolutely a historic day to celebrate this.”
The Piper aircraft was originally purchased by Robert and Tommy Wong, who ran family-owned Central Airways, in the early 1950s, and became the largest flight training school in Canada at the time.
Foxcroft estimates that around 70 people, including members of the Wong family and associates, will make the trip to Eva Rothwell on Wellington Street North over the weekend when the child safety device is unveiled.
“Robert and Tommy Wong will be there and this is their original plane,” Foxcroft said.
“They just got nominated for the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame, and I can’t imagine how much the 16 pilots who actually flew this plane… are going to feel when they see this.”
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The project was brainstormed by Eva Rothwell’s developer, the Rev. Don MacVicar, who often walked past the no longer wanted plane that lay lifeless in a field at Kenneth Gamble Ltd. on Highway 6 for years.
What was left of the plane was to be donated to MacVicar’s display in 2018 after he met with then-Gamble manager Cam Harrod, who now runs Barn Full of Parts and other aviation businesses.
“Campbell then said he could have this one,” MacVicar said in a statement sent to Global News.
“He donated it for the children and they sold me. ‘Yes, I’ll take it,’ I said without having any money or transportation available at the time.”
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Mohawk College’s School of Aviation would eventually be the one to move the plane to its hangar at John C Munro International Airport, where semester after semester students would spend hundreds of hours restoring the plane between 2018 and 2022.
Before-and-after shots show the cockpit reconstruction of a 1956 Piper plane, part of a Mohawk College restoration project for students starting in 2018.
A host of other donors, including KF Aerospace, will be revealed during the ceremony that is expected to include 200 dignitaries, including Mayor Fred Eisenberger.
In total, contributions to the restoration amounted to $100,000.
Foxcroft is also expected to throw the inaugural annual Tyquan Brown Memorial basketball tournament at Eva Rothwell on Saturday afternoon.
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