By Austin Hancock
Geneseo, NY – When the “Greatest Shot on Turf” concludes in mid-July, the excitement is just beginning for the crew at the National Warplane Museum. The WWII-themed airshow, held each year, is just one of the many unique aspects that make up this Western NY based outfit. In addition, the museum operates a unique fleet of warbirds and classic aircraft. At the same time, they continue to restore additional future “fleet” members. In the last year, alone, the NWM has seen a spike in activity related to aircraft operations. This can mostly be traced back to last winter’s exciting occurrence, when the museum re-gained stewardship of the B-17 “Movie Memphis Belle.”
The Warplane Museum is in the middle of a robust annual winter maintenance regimen. Volunteers are hard at work, each and every Saturday, in an unheated hangar. The dedication is paying dividends. Just this past week, the B-17 received her wing inspection, with work continuing on a new landing light (and associated wiring/panels/circuits.) The ‘Belle’s props and engines have all seen inspection this winter as well. Engine #3 is being re-installed, awaiting new lines. The goal is to have the B-17 flying by Spring ‘17.
Along with the “movie star” B-17, the NWM also operates another famous warbird, the C-47 “Whiskey 7.” You may recall, this D-Day Veteran “Gooneybird” accomplished the “Return to Normandy” mission back in 2014, to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the invasion. Today, she is still quite active, and receiving a thorough winter maintenance treatment. In addition to the annual inspections, W7 seeing the (re)installation of her “Rebecca” Antennas. These side-nose mounted antennas were used for short-range radio navigation in WWII. The aided in dropping supplies with greater accuracy. Once the work is complete, “Whiskey 7” will be one step closer to flying in her original D-Day configuration.
The rest of the Warplane Museum’s fleet is progressing through winter maintenance as well. The C-45, L-16, and J-5 are all receiving their inspections and minor maintenances. The whole “gang” should be up and flying by this Spring, and in perfect time to serve the museum’s historic rides program. Beyond Spring, the Warplane Museum will once again host their annual “Greatest Show on Turf,” the Geneseo Airshow. This year, the show will occur on July 14 (Arrival Day), 15, and 16th. The show is unlike any other, and allows for ease of access to warbirds, classics, and their pilots. Flown off the all-grass airstrip, a trip to the Geneseo Airshow is like a trip-through-time.