While we reported the exciting news this January concerning the first post-restoration flight of Grumman F6F-5 BuNo.78645 at Fighter Rebuilder’s facility in Chino, California, we now have news that Steve Hinton has flown the aircraft across the country to her owners at the Fagen Fighters WWII Museum in Granite Falls, Minnesota, and that the organization’s principal, Evan Fagen, has made his own first flights in the rare naval fighter.
Fagen described his recent experiences with the Hellcat in an e-mail with us yesterday, “My first flight was last Monday April 5th. The flight was great, it’s such a wonderful handling airplane. I have now flown it three times, and every time I just enjoy it more and more. It’s a very maneuverable airplane and rolls great. For being such a big airplane, you feel like your wearing it while your flying it which is great. The Hellcat is great on the ground as well, easy to take off and land with the nice wide gear. As advertised, it’s a pilot’s airplane and made for a 200 hr. pilot to transition into. We’re very excited to have it home and look forward to flying it a lot and taking it out so people can see and experience the Hellcat. It’s my understanding that now there are 6 that are airworthy and out of those around 3 that are in annual. I could be off, but we’re excited to be one of the few operators.”
We will be featuring this Hellcat, it’s rebuild and its history, in greater depth in an upcoming issue of Warbird Digest Magazine, so watch this space!