First things first, I heard this across the wire last night… It seems a daring group of individuals somewhere out in the mid-west has be working in secret to restore a Convair B-36 Peacemaker to flight status. The maybe doing airshows very soon.*
Well here in the Hudson Valley and the Southern Connecticut coast the rain has at last stopped. I was treated to a beautiful, albeit cloudy sunrise heading up I-95 into southern Connecticut at rude O’clock this morning. There is really something about this time of morning, when you are out and about, moving before the better part of the population. It gives you a chance to see the sunrise and hear the birds chirping, it’s a powerful feeling.
For a moment I can picture, many years ago a Corsair Pilot or Navy Airman may have seen a similar sunrise. He might have paused for a moment, his hand on the canopy rail, looking skyward and contemplated the beauty of the morning sky and the wonder of life. Then with an urgency most of us can’t imagine, he would unleashed his 2000 horsepower, 18-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial, belching fire from the exhaust, stabbing it’s 13 foot round propeller into the cold morning air. The gull winged fighter, it’s fuselage damp with the morning air, speeding down a runway or off a carrier deck and taking to the air to do battle in some strange part of the Pacific. He would wonder if he might see another beautiful sky.
I on the other hand stepped out of my Red Ford Focus, “Cherrybomb” safe and sound in the parking lot prepared to do battle with those damn DZUS fasteners again in Building 53.
This morning I am back at the process of pulling the cowl panel and drilling out the DZUS fasteners that have decided they don’t care to be quick release anymore. I was joined in the shop today by Bill, our Chance Vought veteran, having spent the war right here in this very plant building spars for the F4U Corsair. He is always quick to tell you that “we built 10 a day on the line”. What I wouldn’t give to have 1 complete spar, ok well maybe 2 spars. Then we could redo the Corsair that’s for sale from Courtesy Aircraft. Yes, I spoke to Darcy about it. It was used by a window company as a wind testing machine and they cut the wing attachments off… Ouch!.
After eating up 4 drill bits and not really being much further along I slipped into the main shop for some other tools and to my surprise, guess who comes walking in… Warbird Kid – Chris Soltis! Usually Chris comes in on the weekends so the additional help is great to have. Check out his shirt in the photo at the side! I tasked Chris with a pile of parts that had been removed and stored off the plane. You see, along with many of the boring tasks that it takes to do make any kind of restoration job right, you must have full documentation. Before we start any sanding or stripping of the paint, all parts need to be cataloged for posterity’s sake. An aircraft like this Corsair has such a history that it would be criminal to blast it away in with a media blaster or paint stripper. Much like the Air and Space Museum did with their FW-190 several years (Decades?) ago, we would like to see what markings this bird wore. So we will be a little more careful to take photos and measurements of the markings.
Today we were visited by the CT Post and writer John Burgess interviewed us while his photographer shot a steady stream of photos. “Doc” Gunther and Morgan Kaolian were in the shop also along with Gene our treasurer. I spent quite awhile pointing out issues we were dealing with on the Corsair and giving a tour around “Building 53”, our own Area 51. Our visitors asked lots of great questions, but I won’t give that all away just yet. The CT Post will be running the story in the next few days and I hope to be able to provide a link to the story.
At the end of the day, I felt funny, like I was being taunted. No it wasn’t from questions being asked during the interview. I’m fairly sure I didn’t look silly in any of the photos… No, I crane my head up to the cockpit, and there for a moment I thought I heard a chuckle or a laugh… DZUS the God of Fasteners was amused, only one DZUS had yielded to my mighty drill today, and the rest stared back at me from the cowl, mocking me. Daring me to try again.