T-Bird cockpit restoration underway

Visitors to the Alberta Aviation Museum will have another jet aircraft they can climb into later this year.

The museum has begun a full restoration on the cockpit of the Canadair T-33 Mk. 3, known as the “T-Bird.” The work included a new interior, a working canopy mechanism and instruments from 1950s. The work is being done to open the cockpit the aircraft to the public. Right now, only the CF-86 Sabre is open on a regular basis.

Ian Rensby, leader of the T-33 restoration project.

Ian Rensby is leading the project and he couldn’t be happier about the assignment.

“I spent 21 years of my life working in military aviation and when I retired and moved on to life outside the military I realized I missed touching airplanes,” Rensby says. “Airplanes are magical.”

The present interior is a haphazard collection of instruments that was installed temporarily when the aircraft was first received from the City of Edmonton. The original interior, including the seats, was put in storage and is still in relatively good, if dirty, condition.

Rensby has worked on a variety of aircraft during his time in the Air Force including a stint with the Snowbirds and another at CFB Cold Lake working on CF-18 Hornets.

The T-33’s current ‘haphazard’ cockpit will be replaced with one that shows its original 1950s configuration.

“Right now [in my post military career] I am working a week on and a week off, ” Rensby says. “So I sit at home for a week. I can’t imagine a nicer place to be giving my time. ”

Watch our web site and Facebook as the project progresses.