Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Massey Aerodrome.
To say we had another fabulous year would be a great understatement. In April, we had a major record-breaking crowd for the Chili Fiesta Fly-In. More than 125 planes flew in. We had to confiscate part of the farm to park planes. Next year we will keep that area in grass for aircraft parking.
There was more chili and more eaters--- none went home in doggy bags.
We had the usual visitors from various church and school groups. It is especially fun to see the little kids light up at the sight of the airplanes. One bible study group came to fly rockets as a break in the school week program. That went very well.
We had a new group come to use the facility to re-enact a WW II Liaison-aircraft-squadron encampment.
We were able to fulfill two major goals for Jim Sypherd. He has been hoping we could find an old time aviation light tower. We found one at the New Castle County Airport that was just taken down and was on its way to the scrap heap. We contacted the owners (Delaware River and Bay Authority) and they kindly let us have it. Jimmy and John brought it home in three pieces on Jimmyís rollback truck. They painted it in official FAA colors and installed it on the hill between the shop and the farmhouse.
The tower story has another (actually two) of those mysterious appearances of the arrival of someone or something we need at exactly the time we need them. We were trying to decide the requirements for a tower foundation. We were not sure what was needed.
Well; Charlie Thuet showed up during the discussion with his friend and fellow flyer, Ralph Peterson. It turned out Ralphís business is installing tall towers. What a break! He showed us how they are done.
The other dramatic timing event was the actual tower discovery. I happened to see it on the ground one evening at a QB meeting at ILG. The next day it was gone. I found it in a nearby construction site being prepared for the scrap pile. I stopped the man on the bulldozer. Two hours later and it would have been junk.
We are real glad we have it. It looks great standing there so proud and reminiscent of old time country airports.
Jimís other dream was to have a DC-3 here, reminiscent of the one that John Beiler had at this site back in the 60ís. John used it in his agriculture spraying business.
Jim needed a DC-3, and now we have one. This is another lucky break story.
The plane has been a fixture at the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant at the Wilmington airport for many years.Last year a car hit it and I called and wrote David Tallichet, the owner, to see if it might be available as a donation the museum. They did not respond.
However; this summer I got a call from Jimís friend Bill ďDocĒ Dougherty. On June 29th the restaurant was closing and the plane might be available.
The next day was spent on the phone, fax and e-mail with Mr. Tallichetís California lawyers and accountants. His fiscal year ended that day and we needed to have the donation completed immediately for him to have a tax deduction that year. We got er done!
The next thing was to bring the plane to Massey. A major undertaking by any measure! Time for another miraculous appearance story!
There may be a total of five people in the United States with the capabilities to move such a plane.
One of them, would you believe, Scott Anglin from Anglin Aircraft Recovery Services L.L.C.,
is located less than five miles down the road in Clayton Delaware. He has been a fan of DC 3ís since childhood. He brought his knowledge and equipment and moved the giant pieces to Massey for us. Jimmy, Doc and John have been disassembling the plane and had brought most of the smaller pieces home. They and Larry Tasker are reassembling it
This will be a major project for us and will tax our physical, manpower and financial abilities. Look forward to hearing from us as the project proceeds. We will be looking for all the support we can find.
Another great project now almost complete is the restoration of Major Bob Beanís Stearman. Newly retired Air force Colonel Don Sloan purchased it. And, it has been under restoration in the shop for most of the past year.
Once again I have another personal story to tell.
Many years ago (1960) my father and I owned a 1943 Stinson Reliant together. About 40 years ago a man purchased the plane, flew it home and started to recover it. However, he never finished the job, the plane languished in his back yard I traced it down in Seaville NJ, a few blocks from where my mother lived.
After many visits the owner agreed to sell it to me when he decided to sell it. But, he was never able to let it go. After he died his son called and asked if I still wanted it. Of course I snapped at the chance.
It is a rather rare and, for Ann and I a very special plane. Ann had her first plane ride, as a teenager, with my father in that plane. We are looking to the day when it will be back in the air.
Jim Douglass, Dec. 2006