A 10-year restoration project culminated last Sunday (October 25) with the public display of a North American Harvard airplane at Southern Ontario’s Tillsonburg airport (CYTB). A Mark 4 model now registered as C-FBZT and bearing its military designation 20304, it is the latest restoration project completed by the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association (CHAA), also of Tillsonburg.

The Harvard was purchased from the federal government’s Crown Assets Disposal Corporation on December 7, 1964 by Gilbert Dressel. It then sat for 42 years in a barn on his farm near Wainfleet, Ontario before being purchased by Stan and Greg Tyrell in June of 2006. The Tyrells had intended to restore it to flying condition, but after Greg Tyrell passed away in 2008, the family decided to donate the airplane to the CHAA.

No. 20304 was a Canadian-manufactured model, entering service with the RCAF on May 15, 1952 and retired on November 1, 1965. It saw military service at RCAF Station Macdonald in Manitoba and at RCAF Station Centralia in Ontario.

The CHAA’s stated mission “…is to acquire, preserve, restore, maintain, display and demonstrate the Harvard and other training aircraft associated with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP).”

The organization currently operates and maintains a fleet of eight Harvards, two of which are in long-term restoration, some of which were manufactured at North American’s California factory and the remaining at Canadian Car & Foundry’s Fort William, Ontario plant. The fleet also includes a North American Yale.

Photo credit: Gustavo Corujo