HARRISON COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Once upon a time America made about 300,000 wartime aircraft, but after World War II, many of them just rotted away. Then around 1960 a group now called the Commemorative Air Force began restoring warbirds to flying condition, and offering flights to the public.
So if you’re historically adventurous and have some extra cash, you can get a ride in a 1941 biplane at the Harrison County Airport.
Lone Star Wing of the Commemorative Air Force Operations Officer Jimmy Page is excited he can once again offer rides in a biplane to the general public.
“Our May schedule as well as our April schedule going back to March was pretty full before the pandemic happened. And those events have all been cancelled,” Page said.
Normally stored in a Harrison County Airport hangar, the CAF had the PT-17 Stearman pulled out in the sunshine since it’s now OK to resume their flights.
“We’re a 501-C3 nonprofit and so the way that we basically fund the airplane is to sell rides,” Page said.
The plane was built from two nonfunctional Stearman after they were stripped down to parts.
“How many times do you have to wind it to make it go?”
“It takes a while. There’s a big rubber band, goes all the way back to the tail,” Page smiled as he turned the prop by hand.
He was of course, getting the oil moving around in the engine. And as far as flights:
“We’ve got procedures in place that we’ve established with consultations with local physicians and CDC guidance. You know, maintain social distancing and disinfect the airplane between riders,” Page said.
CAF Headquarters in Dallas approved ridership, and their mission is to:
“Educate, inspire and honor, right? So use these aircraft as a vehicle of education and inspiration, especially of younger generations,” Page said.
Page hopes it is occasionally a future pilot generator. And as far as the plane’s past:
“About 80 percent of the pilots that trained in World War II would have trained in this airplane,” Page said.
The flights are a little pricey, but so is the plane’s upkeep, but:
“I’ve never had someone come back and say, you know that wasn’t really worth the money,” Page said.
Well, no one said flying back in time would be cheap. But it’s good to know there are people out there that will keep history aloft.
Click here if you’d like more information about the Lone Star Wing of the Commemorative Air Force or maybe schedule a ride click here.