Restoration of crashed Grumman C-1A Trader “Miss Belle” Nears Completion

Grumman C-1A Trader restoration nearly completed. (Image Credit: Trader Air)
Grumman C-1A Trader restoration nearly completed.
(Image Credit: Trader Air)

It took nearly 10 years, but it looks like the restoration of the Grumman C-1A Trader, “Miss Belle,” owned by Trader Air of Topeka, Kansas might be done in time for the plane to make the trip to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for EAA AirVenture 2013.

"Miss Belle" (Image Credit: Trader Air)
“Miss Belle”
(Image Credit: Trader Air)
One of two fresh Wright R-1820 Cyclone 9s now installed on the plane. (Image Credit: Trader Air)
One of two fresh Wright R-1820 Cyclone 9s now installed on the plane.
(Image Credit: Trader Air)
"Miss Belle" looking almost factory-fresh and ready to go, though props would definitely help. (Image Credit: Trader Air)
“Miss Belle” looking almost factory-fresh and ready to go, though props would definitely help.
(Image Credit: Trader Air)
“Miss Belle” had had a long career in the US Navy, which accepted the craft in August, 1958 and kept it in service for 30 years, retiring the plane in September, 1988. Over the course of her service, she traveled the globe supporting naval operations, amassing nearly 16,000 Flying Hours. She made nearly 10,000 landings (over 800 arrested), and was launched from a carrier catapult 190 times.

Acquired in 1999 by Doug Goss and Richard Cronn, the plane was a popular performer at air shows around the midwest wowing the crowds with her aerial display and the magic of her enormous folding wings. Unfortunately, in August 2002, while on a return trip from from Skyfest Michiana, “Miss Belle” experienced catastrophic engine failure on her number 2 engine at an altitude of approximately 4000′. While the plane was designed for sustained single engine flight, the engine failure blew the number 1 cylinder, piston, and master rod from the plane, and in the process severed the controls to the prop governor. Lacking the ability to feather the prop blades, they was unable to stay aloft. With few options available, the crew was forced to make an emergency gear-up landing in a cornfield near Macomb, IL. While fortunately there were no injuries in the crash, in addition to the engine explosion that precipitated the incident, the landing crumpled the lower fuselage, damaged one of the fold-up wings and the second engine was destroyed when its prop contacted the ground.

As of this writing, the restoration of the plane, helped by the acquisition of a parts plane, is nearing completion, with new engines installed, fuselage and wings repaired and paintwork done. The crew at Trader Air are racing against the clock to try to have her in the air with enough time to spare to make it to Oshkosh. Stay tuned!

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14 Comments

  1. Doug,

    I’ll never forget that sad day when a bunch of us old C-1A maintainers met you in Macomb to inspect Miss Belle. Although there was extensive damage, we were all very confident she could be restored. Now you are proving us right, and putting a proud old bird back in the air once again. I can’t wait to see her flying again.

    Rod

  2. Glad to see that there are people willing to put their head togther to save some of the old aircraft so that the childen of tomorrow can see and hear these birds in the air. Its one thing to read history its another to see it close up and touch it.
    David P. Thoresen

  3. Great job! You guys should be proud of yourself. I was in charge of the logbooks for 038 the Cod on the USS hancock. Check out my video on youtube under USS Hancock Cruise.
    Its nice to see at least one of them still flying. I heard there is another one flying out of Beverly, MA airport that has been restored. You should check that out too. I took a lot of pictures on my three cruises and you can see some picture of our Cod 038 if you are inrersted. I flew in and out of Viet Nam many time on the Cod and have many fond memories of it. Go to youtube and enter (Aircraft Carrier USS Hancock CVA-19 Vietnam Cruise 65-66-67).

    • Brian,

      My name is Ryan Stone, I am the son of Garmen Tracy Stone, who I believe you served with you on the 038 Cod, aboard the USS Hancock. I found your YouTube video and noticed my father in many pictures, when I showed him, he immediately recognized you. I would love to be able to put you into contact with each other. Please respond if this reaches you. Thank you,

  4. Upon arriving at Columbia,mo. for 2014 Air Show, first thing I saw was this C!A with USS INDEPENDENCE on her side. This was the cod that brought the MAIL.
    No one except those who experience these events , know the feelings that come over you seeing something like this that was part of your young life so many years ago. Thanks Doug for the inside tour and special visit we had.

    • Ray, It was our pleasure. The C-1 has so much history and restoration was our only option. It was very expensive, but well worth it. Miss Belle is one of two still flying. Doug

  5. I worked on Miss Belle at the Naval Air Station in Willow Grove, PA I was Stationed on board the USS Independence CV-62 COD Crew as a AMSAN
    Great Aircraft nice to see it up and flying…

  6. I never knew that miss liberty bell was still flying I worked on it as young ADJ in the navy on board the USS Independence also had a few hours flying in her to go pick the mail up and other things to the ship while on deployment in the med. I still talk about those memories with some old ship mates of course now I am a A&P / I A .

    • Remember Johnny Jones and Tom Roades? We all spent more than one fine day keeping Belle in the air. Sad to see the Indy nearing the end of her days, but really glad to see Miss Belle out there and in fine shape. Though, if it weren’t for com-shaw requisitions she might not have survived. I was the electronics tech/air crewman when you were assigned to the crew and your name has come up more than once in my “sea stories”.

  7. I use to fly plane Captain on C1’s out of Jacksonville on 136755 then I was transferred to VR-24 and flew them from 1971 till the middle of 1974 as plane Captain , I would like to ask you if you have been keeping up with your oil sample’s on your engines and getting an oil analysis ? Because it is the common for #1 #2 #9 cylinder to go on 1820’s first if you keep up with your oil samples you will catch this in time because you will be able to bore scope the cylinder to find out which one is going bad and just replace that cylinder , I was one of the last classes of ADR’S to go through A school I then while in VR- 24 had to switch to ADJ then to AD
    I also notice on your site you mention a AD-1 Harvey ? Was he ever stationed in Pensacola ,Florida at VT-86 ?

  8. Yet another Indy Sailor here, and seeing Miss Belle again in the air brings tears to my eyes. I loved that little plane. Congrats. I bet she sounds just as pretty as she ever did, when you COULD hear her over the roar, that is.
    Not long ago I got a hankering to experiment with small, electric RC models, and the guys at Flight Test make a twin engine plane they call the “Mini-Guinea”, advertised as a “speed build” kit. It isn’t a copy of anything in particular, but could (and does, to my mind, anyhow) suggest the lines of BOTH the C-1, and C-2, and even the E-2C. Anyway, I got to looking at it, and said “ya know, damned if that doesn’t look like it could be made into a COD!” Sooo…got to looking for pix on the net, and here we are! Gonna try to make a “Li’l Belle”.
    Just thought you’d find it entertaining. Couldn’t BEGIN to play with the REAL THING. But thank you for bringing her back.

  9. And yet another Indy alum. I was a ship’s company ADR and wrenched on her for about a year (1971), Loved the cat shots, hated the traps…

  10. I was on the USS Independence in 1974 when I had to go on emergency leave and I caught a ride in Miss Bell . I got to go on one the few cat launches that Miss Bell took, which was really a thrill

  11. My only catapult was off the Kitty Hawk in the Tonkin Gulf in Jan 68 heading for Cholon, Saigon Annapolis Hotel and Big Tet. I stayed in SE Asia when my AC the Oriskany went back to the US.

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