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” 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!