Plane scrapes through narrow village streets in south of France

The retired water bomber was being taken to be displayed

The plane took two nights to go 118km from Nîmes to Aubenas
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Villagers in the south of France were woken in the small hours of Monday (March 18) by the sound of 30 people trying to squeeze a wingless plane through narrow streets on the back of a truck.

The retired Tracker S-2FT water bomber was making its final journey from Nîmes to Aubenas, where it is to be displayed as a memorial to firefighters.

The 8.50m wide, 12m long and 3m high plane barely squeezed through many of the villages on the way - even with its wings removed - and required roads to be closed on its 118km trip

Thanks to a manoeuvrable platform on the oversized trailer, the angle of the plane’s wings and tail could be adjusted to squeeze through certain carefully selected streets.

Pic: BEGOT Jérémy

Water bombing with Tracker S-2FT aircraft was a particularly dangerous mission, which only former air force pilots were allowed to perform.

On August 20, 2005, two pilots died when their Tracker aircraft crashed while fighting a forest fire in Ardèche.

The aircraft were all retired in 2020.

The SOS TRACKER 07 (Ardèche) association, whose 44 members are largely firefighters and their families, was formed to save one of these aircraft as a memorial and to remember the people who risked their lives flying in them.

It took two nights for the plane to reach its destination at the Aubenas-Lanas aerodrome.

“It was an extremely difficult challenge getting it through the villages,” a spokesperson for the association told The Connexion. “We will have to rest for a few days before reassembling the plane.”

“We hope it will be the centrepiece to a new cultural and educational space.”

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