Air Zoo’s PT-23 – The Story of a Restoration

Fairchild PT-23HO_N52020 (8)_Composite Photo_Over Fishers Lake in Three Rivers, MI copy

After almost eight years, after his marriage, after the birth of a child, Greg Ward was going to finally see the rebirth of his own charge, the PT-23 Cornell. It was 7 July 1997. They had originally planned to make the first post-restoration flight on July 4th, 1997; a rather fitting date for an aircraft which contributed so much to the independence of this nation. But the weather did not cooperate. Museum Board Chairman Pete Parish took some time to rev up the engine and check all the instruments, but soon he taxied out. Quicker than a drop of water jumping off a hot griddle, the -23 was airborne! The silver aircraft took to the air like a fish to water. In this perfect mating of form to function, Parish put the Cornell through her paces over the next half hour. Like the thoroughbred she is, she performed beautifully. Greg and many of his volunteers had their heads cranked skyward for that 30 minutes watching the glint from the wings as Parish checked out the silver bird. Then he banked to the right, lined up on 5/23 and greased her on for a three-point landing. It was beautiful. There were no major squawks either. Tom Austin finally got his chance behind the stick, piloting the aircraft to Oshkosh with Greg in the back seat. There were over five hundred warbirds at the show and over a hundred in competition. The Air Zoo’s PT-23 Cornell received the “Judges Choice” award, and the restoration team was ecstatic! Whether or not she won a prize, the -23 certainly had already won the hearts of everyone who saw her.

For more information about the AIR ZOO visit their website http://www.airzoo.org/

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