Around the Airport

Sunday, January 6, 2013

There's a Mosquito Buzzing Around

Through the years, Jerry Yagen has built himself one heck of an impressive collection of aircraft.  So impressive in fact, that anyone in aviation who hasn't heard of The Fighter Factory hasn't been paying attention.  If you ever find yourself in the Virginia Beach area, you have to visit.  Myself I've been to the Military Aviation Museum and it was incredible.
One thing I find particularly interesting about Mr. Yagen is his desire to put things into the air that others find impossible or daunting.  A hangar full of P-51's is not this guy's desire; his interests in aviation and warbirds seem to broad and educated for that. Nope, instead he seems to go for the planes that should be put back in the air, not necessarily the ones that are trendy.  Because of this, his collection is widely varied. It is also for this reason he now lays claim to the world's only flying Mosquito.
Surely you've heard of this restoration.  If not, again you really should be paying closer attention.  Easily one of the most incredible efforts ever put into the rescue of an airplane, you can't look anywhere without seeing the results.  Each day brings new photos and video that show why so many old timers considered it one of the most beautiful aircraft ever to fly.
Photoshopped or real?  Do you know and can you back it up?
During the past decade, I have been fortunate enough to exchange the occasional message with Mr. Yagen and he has always gone out of his way to answer any questions or small requests I had.  When I first visited his museum it was for all practical purposes closed.  Yet, instead of telling me to come back, he told me where to knock and who to talk to, and because of that a friend and I had the museum to ourselves.  Then there was the time I sent him a photo so that he would know people at Oshkosh were actually lying on his newly restored Rapide.  His answer was hilarious but it was also telling.  The impression I got was that the plane was there for the public to see and nothing could be done to it that couldn't be fixed.  And then there was the response to an email I recently sent him about tours of his museum and another of his aircraft in the restoration pipeline.  He kindly answered the questions then offered up a video that I have included at the bottom of this page.  I suggest you watch it.
If you've never seen color footage of a Mosquito in flight, this will get your juices flowing.  Contained in the ten plus minutes of video are scenes from the ground, inside the cockpit, and an air to air mission that reveals the de Havilland in its element.  If you don't find the machine beautiful, something is wrong with you and you should consider handing in your wings.
Finally, if you ever get the chance to meet Jerry Yagen, be sure to thank him for putting this plane back in the air.  It is easily one of aviation's greatest treasures.

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