The Restorers: Prepping Museum Aircraft
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...