Wednesday, October 3, 2012
A vintage plane made a trip from Hutchinson to Wichita Wednesday. What makes the airplane transfer unusual is that it traveled by ground rather than air.
It's one of the great classic airplanes of all times: the Beech D-17 Staggerwing. It doesn't look like much now. But it'll be on its way to the Kansas Aviation Museum, where it will be restored into a museum showpiece – a piece of Air Capital history, and one museum volunteers are anxious to get restored, says Terry Dobson of the Kansas Aviation Museum,
"We're thrilled to death to get a hold of this thing,” Dobson says. “Although it looks pretty ratty today."
It’s ratty-looking for a reason, these aviation buffs would say. It’s been sitting in a barn near Hutchinson for years. Much of the cloth skin of the Staggerwing decayed; the metal rusted. But it’s not too far gone, these guys say.
The plane was purchased for $8,500. It was originally built at the Beech factory in 1944 for the Navy, but the navy didn’t need it with the war ending. So Goodyear Tire bought it and flew it for several years before selling it again. The Beech Staggerwing was the executive plane of its day. It also captured several racing trophies in the 1930s.
The crew needed a tow truck to lift it on the trailer after the plane’s right gear broke through the plywood flooring of the trailer.
"Having retired from Beech, I had the opportunity to restore one before. So this will be an interesting project,” says Ed Scott of the Kansas Aviation Museum. “I'm really looking forward to it."
Walt House, who calls himself the museum’s chief scrounger, says the museum will have to find about $4,000 for restoration materials.
"We put everything back in it just like it was going to fly accept we don't put the expense of an engine back in there that would be certified," House says.
So after being in barn storage Northwest of Hutchinson all these years, it'll be back in the Air Capital, where it will be restored and put on display eventually at the Kansas Aviation Museum.