She was a sad little thing when she arrived. She was battered, damaged and, when we opened the container, her parts rolled out the door and scattered into the gravel. She was Serial Number 815, late of Colombia, where she was registered as HK 189.
Bill had brought 3 Beavers back from Colombia. His trip was memorable for his phone calls home to say all was well between bursts of gunfire and the roar of military helicopters. He bought the Beavers from a small airline whose owner had been killed because he refused to let his family pay a ransom when he was kidnapped. The Beavers had been sent to Colombia from deHavilland in 1955.
They were loaded into a container with the Colombian anti-narcos videotaping and documenting everything to guarantee that no drugs went into the container. The containers were well sealed, shipped to Cartagena and put on a freighter. Those precautions didn't stop the US Customs anti-drug squad. They pulled the containers off the freighter in LA, opened them, ransacked them and left us to pay for repacking, storage, loading on the next available freighter, and damage. Apparently our insurance didn't cover damage from over-zealous border guards. It was hard to be too outraged: the original freighter arrived in Vancouver with a record-breaking shipment of cocaine hidden in fish meal from Chile.
Two Beavers were rebuilt and are flying. S/N 815 took longer. The Colombians have a law that is a little confusing, but long story short, the person who sold us 815 owned it but didn't own it. That meant Bill had to travel back down, work with a Bogota lawyer, and get old liens released so the aircraft could be deregistered in Colombia and registered in Canada. When this was finally sorted out, she became C-GGBF. She had a high time airframe, had to be substantially repaired, and somehow we never parted with her. But we did work on her. She was pretty much rebuilt when she was damaged in a windstorm. So we repaired her again.
At some point, Bill decided that 815 would be the ideal aircraft for our new "automotive style" engine that he wanted to develop, in competition with the PT-6 and the Orenda. Our prototype was built by Sonny's Racing Engines in Virginia. (http://www.sonnysracingengines.com/). It was a great concept, but the promised financing didn't materialize and the project was shelved. The Orenda morphed into the TRACE, and, when TRACE was looking for a DHC-2 it was an easy decision to offer our plane.
All was going well until Transport Canada ran into complications issuing the Flight Permit. International Flight Permits are a complicated thing, and what seemed simple to one inspector became a nightmare for another. We're getting used to complications with 815. That could be why she is more like our pet than our aircraft.
So our plane has morphed again. She is now US Registered. Let the flights begin!