by Richard Mallory Allnutt (Chief Editor)
Kermit Weeks’ Douglas A-26B Invader (41-39401) made its first successful post-restoration flight on February 20th, 2023, making a thirty-minute hop from Chino Airport in Chino, California. Aero Trader performed the comprehensive restoration of this aircraft, which saw the aircraft return to its original, single-pilot configuration along with the installation of much period military hardware. Kermit Weeks has owned the Invader since July, 1987. He initially displayed the aircraft with the then-nascent Weeks Air Museum at the former Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport (now Miami Executive Airport) near Miami, Florida. However, when Hurricane Andrew swept up the Florida coast in August, 1992 the Weeks Air Museum’s hangar collapsed, with the Invader receiving considerable damage in the process… along with many of the other historic airframes alongside it. Weeks trucked the A-26 to Aero Trader for repairs in 1997, and the world-renowned restoration shop has worked on it off-and-on ever since.
The aircraft was ready to go last May, with Steve Hinton at the controls (and Mark Moodie in the right seat) for the first test flight, although, as most readers will now know, that endeavor nearly ended in disaster when the cockpit’s clamshell doors burst open in mid-flight. Hinton was able to return the aircraft safely to Chino, but were it not for his cool-headed reactions, or had the doors departed the airframe, the outcome might have been very different – as the video below attests.
Thankfully, this time everything went well. Once the test-flying is complete, the Invader will likely make its way back to Kermit Weeks’ home base at the Fantasy of Flight Museum in Polk City, Florida. While it is unlikely that the aircraft will make many – if any – air show appearances, it wouldn’t be surprising to see it take part in the EAA’s Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo at Lakeland, Florida if Weeks can get the Invader back home in time for the convention, which takes place between March 28th and April 2nd this year.
Commenting on this momentous occasion via social media, Kermit Weeks noted:
One of our regular contributors, Adam Estes, visited Aero Trader in early February, and was able to capture some excellent images showing some of the aircraft’s features. We want to thank him for providing these photographs to share with you here. You can expect an article from Adam in the coming weeks describing this aircraft’s history in greater detail.
I remember this plane sitting outside at Kermit’s first museum at Tamiami Airport in south Miami Dade county
Great to see this old bird Flying again
I was doing clean-up work on the movie Always at the Libby, Montana airport. Two A-26’s were used for the movie and one of them was being tested with a refurbished engine. The pilot wound that engine up so high in the static test I thought it would explode. It didn’t. Just feet away. What a thrill. Then S.Spielberg thought so much of the airport manager he had a Mustang flown up from California for his birthday celebration. The pilot flew it, barely a hundred feet up, over us on the runway at full chat. Fastest thing, by far, I’ve ever seen.
My goodness… it must have been amazing to witness such moments! Thanks so much for writing in George. We’d love to hear more about what it was like working on that film!
talk about a back burner project! kermit’s got more irons in the fire than a drunken blacksmith. god bless him for his efforts keeping these beautiful machines in the skies where they belong.