Sunday, January 19, 2014

I'm Sorry, I Wasn't Able to Save It

Last year it came to my attention the last Stearman built was being restored by the United States Air Force Museum. While in a rush to get it done for black history month and a Tuskegee Airmen Display, they were pushing through the restoration at a pretty good pace when they discovered the writing above.
By the time I found out about the operation everything had been stripped and all that was left was the clean metal where the letters once were.  Yet, the letters placed on the plane at the factory were still clearly visible.  When I found out this was the case, among other things, I did my best to convince the museum to save at least one of these panels and clear coat it for display next to the finished airplane.  My thinking was that it was a true window into what made this plane so special but it seems those on the restoration board did not feel the same.
Notice the large sign and letters on the plane in this photo.  The smaller letters on the
panels seen above and below were painted on the plane by Boeing at a later date.
From what I understand, the only existing evidence of this plane's true place in history will be painted over, if it hasn't been already.  Other than that, the only way remaining that would enable a person to tell it was the last one made is the data plate, which you can't get close enough to see because you're you and they're them, and a plaque that will most likely make a very slight reference to it after telling the story how planes like this were used at Tuskegee.  What a shame this is when planes that were actually used there exist.
It says, "This is the last of 10,346 Boeing Kaydets produced at Boeing Wichita for
the US Army, US Navy, and the United Nations".  Oh wait, it just hit me, it doesn't say
Air Force.  Now it all makes sense.
I won't go into the subject at length but I hope those of you who would ever consider giving a plane to one of these large government run, and or large static only museums, would rethink it. This is just another example of how those organizations typically claim to preserve history but actually just use the displays for political statements and tourist traps with little real passion for the lineage of the machines.

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