The Re­stor­ers: Prep­ping Mu­seum Air­craft

Flight Journal - - FLY BUYS - — Budd Davis­son, Ed­i­tor-in-Chief

It is the rare warbird owner or mu­seum that ac­tu­ally does its own restora­tion. It is al­most (but not al­ways) out­sourced to com­pa­nies that spe­cial­ize in that kind of ac­tiv­ity, of which there are many around the globe.

This is par­tially be­cause the work in­volves far more than sim­ple high-level main­te­nance. In most cases, the shop is deal­ing with mul­ti­tudes of miss­ing or dam­aged parts that of­ten have to be man­u­fac­tured. Of­ten­times, mas­sive cor­ro­sion ren­ders the parts only good for pat­terns, and a nearly to­tal lack of in­for­ma­tion on the air­plane causes the re­storer to re­verse-en­gi­neer ev­ery­thing from what lit­tle re­mains. It is un­likely, for in­stance, that the man­u­als and air­frame con­struc­tion draw­ings for some­thing like a Ja­pa­nese “Os­car” are go­ing to be avail­able.

GossHawk Un­lim­ited in Casa Grande, Ari­zona, is in our ed­i­to­rial back­yard, so to speak. For decades, I’ve watched Dave Goss (pic­tured above) and now his daugh­ter, Lind­sey, and their group of crafts­peo­ple breathe life back into a wide range of air­craft types. Their projects have in­cluded a two-place Mk IX Spit­fire, one of their first un­der­tak­ings, and an ul­tra-rare FW 190 D-13, when Dave was GM and chief re­storer for the Cham­plin Fighter Mu­seum (the col­lec­tion has since been sold to the Mu­seum of Flight).

Wan­der­ing around their new fa­cil­ity in Casa Grande gave me an in­side look at the ar­ti­facts we usu­ally only see in com­pleted form in mu­se­ums. On my last visit, I saw, among others, the in-process FW 190F-8 for the Collings Foun­da­tion and the on­go­ing-but-keep-it-fly­ing restora­tion of the PB4Y-2 (sin­gle-tail B-24) they’ve spruced up and main­tain for the own­ers.

At a fu­ture time, Flight Jour­nal is go­ing to do fea­tures that fo­cus on the as­tound­ing amount of warbird restora­tion work that is go­ing on in out-ofthe-way cor­ners of the United States. There are a lot of me­chan­i­cal he­roes out there who de­serve some of the spot­light that shines on the pieces of aerial his­tory they save.

This is one of only two in­tact FW 190D-13s known to ex­ist (the other is in the Na­tional Mu­seum of the United States Air Force), which Dave Goss re­stored for Doug Cham­plin’s Fighter Mu­seum. It is now owned and dis­played by the Fly­ing Her­itage & Com­bat...

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