June 14 - A restoration project to preserve the world's last flying Fairey Gannet T5 anti-submarine aircraft received a boost when Ruslan International offered to fly the aircraft from Goose Bay, Canada to a new home in Minneapolis, USA onboard on one its
During its operational career, the Gannet was a key part of the US Navy's anti-submarine defence and airborne early warning system. After retirement from military service, the Gannet was maintained by the US FAA and later sold to the Polar Aviation Museum in the United States. There it was reassembled and restored to airworthiness and regularly performed in air shows but after the museum closed, it was put up for sale.
The new owner, Shannan Hendricks, originally planned to fly the aircraft back to the UK but technical difficulties prevented it getting beyond Goose Bay. The challenge was then to find a reliable transportation method for the Gannet that could ensure the safety of the aircraft. Sea and road freight options were considered unviable given the risk of potential damage and the aircraft's sheer size. Having then considered flying the Gannet as air cargo, her owners soon discovered that aircraft such as the C5 and Airbus Beluga were too small for the complex task.
The giant Antonov AN-124 freighter was identified as the perfect solution but with time running out due to severe weather conditions in Canada, the owners were not optimistic of achieving the huge logistics challenge. That was untilRuslan International - the joint venture between Volga-Dnepr Airlines and Antonov Airlines - responded with a generous offer of help.
Recognising the significance of the Gannet project and the historical nature of the flight, Ruslan International came up with a special discounted rate for transporting the aircraft, scheduling a flight in between other commercial work in order to eliminate the cost of positioning/depositioning an AN-124. As a result, just four days later, the Gannet was being carefully loaded onto an AN-124 in Goose Bay ahead of its four hour flight to Minneapolis.
The logistics exercise was completed on schedule and without a hitch, a fact the aircraft's owner acknowledged on the new website set up to raise funds for the Gannet's restoration. They stated: "The large crew of the Antonov showed everyone exactly why they are one of the world's leading heavy cargo professional outfits. Our massive thanks goes to Ruslan International and the Antonov crew … this would never have been able to happen without their involvement."