George Norsen and I started this project in April of 2010. We simply wanted to clean up this big ol’ bird and make her more attractive as it is one of the first things you see when approaching the airport from Big Tree Lane. We also wanted to open it up as a static display and make it safe and attractive for Museum visitors to tour. Last Fall, Kevin House joined us as the third dedicated member of the C119 Team, and we had help from numerous others who stopped by to pitch in and give a hand when needed.
Thanks must be given to those who preceded us and did the ground work upon which we built. People like Don Torrance and Bob Bedson were early workers who helped pave the way. HAG member Bill Reid gave us some valuable insight into the history of this plane as he actually flew on her as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force many years ago. It is our intention to finish this aircraft in RCAF colors and markings in honor of those who brought this airplane to us. Others told us stories of it’s arrival at Geneseo and it’s history here. Some gave us old photos and aircraft technical manuals to use as reference. Personal notes and hand scrawled details were collected for us. We now had a foundation to build upon.
So, Since last April we have succeeded in making several improvements to this airplane. First we had to get organized and took a very thorough photo inventory of the plane, inside and out.
Among the things accomplished this year were;
• The aircraft was mounted and anchored to flat concrete platforms.
• The inside was cleaned out. Bird nests and dirt was removed, and floors swept and vacuumed. The stretchers inside were put into storage.
• 21 of the 28 porthole windows were repaired/replaced with new stainless steel hardware.
• Rust was removed from the port side lower cockpit window frames and new stainless hardware installed.
• The port side clamshell door was opened and lubricated.
• Two stored engine covers were power washed and re-installed.
• The instrument panel was taken out for refurbishing.
• Touch up paint was purchased and used on the inside ribbing.
• An all steel stair ladder was cleaned and painted for visitor entry.
• New photo displays describing the aircrafts’ history and our progress were prepared and put up with various signage. This included a “donation barrel” encouraging visitors to support us financially.
• Roof repairs were started. Openings were closed up and areas sealed where water leaked in.
• This winter we will start fixing one of the front wing flaps currently in the 1941 hanger. Repairs and fabric recovering will be attempted.
• An on line distribution list was started, keeping those interested well informed. (Contact us if you’d like to join.)
Our public displays and donation barrel were moved into the Admin building for the winter. So far we have collected three dollars and one candy wrapper.
Now that we’ve broken the ice and made some progress, we have some very ambitious intentions for 2011.
Among them are;
• Repair/replace the last seven porthole windows with new stainless steel hardware.
• Finish sealing, repairing and waterproofing the roof.
• Prime and repaint the entire white area of the roof.
• Replace all upper cockpit windows with new, clear Plexiglas. Paint and repair window frames.
• Paint and re-install roof antennas.
• Open starboard clamshell, adjust and lubricate, and repair it’s jump door.
• Scrape, prime, and paint the landing gear.
• Repair and paint the tires and wheels.
• Start flight deck repairs. Work on bulkhead and rudder pedal control areas.
• Identify missing panel covers throughout aircraft.
The list can go on and on, and we will be quite happy if we can accomplish all of the above. However, there are only three of us. We sure could use your help, even if it’s only for one day. It’s amazing how much can get done if many hands help out.
- Dave Kolchuk