TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Michigan man has bought a rare World War II plane from a Topeka museum and plans to make it airworthy.
The Douglas O-46 aircraft is in pristine condition after being housed for the past 20 years at the Combat Air Museum, which hosts a static display of vintage aircraft. It recently was moved to the nearby American Flight Museum hangar at the Topeka Regional complex and will remain there for another week or two, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports.
“It’s just unheard of, to look like this,” said Dan Stephens, director of sponsorships at the American Flight Museum. “This looks almost like the day they landed it. It just gives you chills, really.”
Stephens said the new owner is sending a team to Topeka to disassemble the plane so it can be hauled to Michigan for restoration. Stephens says the plane’s frame is in “terrific shape,” as are its wings. But he says its 1,000-horsepower radial engine has seized up and will have to be rebuilt, which likely will take two to three years.
The observation aircraft, built in 1939, had a three-man crew comprised of two pilots and a spotter who could climb down into the lower part of the plane to take photos, Stephens said. It’s made mainly of aluminum—typical for aircraft at that time—along with fabric, which Stephens said made the plane lighter so the pilot could control it more quickly and easily, as controls weren’t yet assisted by hydraulics.
Stephens said the aircraft’s new owner will restore the plane so it can fly in air shows. With just four O-46 planes left, he said, that plan will make this plane unique.
“It will be the only one of the four that flies,” Stephens said.
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com
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