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Sabotage or Accident?

Russell Air Group's Bf 109 damaged after striking flagpole

Zodiac
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Zodiac
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Zodiac
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Photos by Dave Cheeseman

One of the very special aircraft scheduled to appear at AirVenture to help celebrate this year’s Canadian Flight Centennial is the Russell Air Group’s meticulously restored Messerschmitt Bf 109E. However a troubling incident occurred at RAG’s airstrip in early June that caused significant damage to the left wing. Repairs are under way and, barring any unforeseen damage, RAG is optimistic it will have the Messerschmitt - which RAG claims is the last one of its kind still flying – fixed in time to attend Oshkosh 2009

The troubling part: Pilot John Romain escaped injury and severe damage to the vintage 1939 machine when he was forced to make an emergency landing after clipping a flagpole on takeoff on June 4. Romain was preparing for the RAG air show at the Niagara Falls Aerodrome the following weekend, June 6-7.

Several Warbird website chat rooms were buzzing about the incident when it was alleged that the landowner adjacent to the RAG airstrip deliberately placed the pole near the end of the airstrip (Runway 19) to obstruct aircraft take-offs and landings. If that is that case, there may be some pending legal (possibly criminal) ramifications. Stay tuned on this one.

 
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