Friday, December 6, 2013

Starting the Journey: Winter Maintenance Gets Underway

As soon as Whiskey 7 touched down in Geneseo the mechanics got started getting the airplane ready for her trip next year. The first order of business was to do a compression check on all 28 cylinders while the engines were still warm. A compression check tests the seal of the valves and piston rings and gives a general indication of the health and wear of each cylinder. Checking all 28 took up a full afternoon. All of the inspection covers were removed so that the aircraft structure, cables, and wiring can be checked.

The next weekend (November 22nd) the airplane was put onto jacks to allow for the removal and inspection of the wheels and brakes. The mechanics removed the center floor section and the ailerons, both will be refurbished and repainted over the winter and started removal of the engine accessories from the left engine. Additionally, the voltage regulators and Emergency Locator Transmitter were pulled for replacement.

On December 9 the hydraulic regulator and accumulator assembly was removed from the airplane and mechanics also started removing two cylinders from our spare engine to be overhauled in case they are needed during the trip.

Check out the slideshow above for pictures and stay tuned for more updates!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bringing Whiskey 7 into the 21st century

When the NWM first started exploring the possibility of taking Whiskey 7 back to Europe, one of the first issues that needed to be tackled was her aging radio and navigation equipment ("avionics"). While the equipment had been upgraded in the 1990s and worked well for our operations in the US, advances in technology meant that W7 was well behind the times. More critically for our Return to Normandy, European airspace requires a newer kind of transponder, a device that identifies an aircraft to air traffic control radar, as well as communications radios that can tune more frequencies.

W7's cockpit in 2012

The new Garmin equipment ready to be installed
We approached Garmin at EAA Airventure Oshkosh in July and they generously helped us to acquire new GTN650 navigators, a GTX-33ES transponder, and GMA-340 audio panel. The GTN's combine GPS, radio navigation, and communication in a single box, controlled through a touch-screen interface. The new transponder will keep W7 in compliance with current European regulations as well as new FAA requirements scheduled to go into effect in 2020. The new equipment will also allow W7 to take advantage of GPS-based instrument approaches, allowing the flight crew more flexibility when landing at smaller airports in poor visibility. Having two independent GPS systems installed in the aircraft as well as a mobile Garmin Aera 796 will provide redundancy in case of a problem during the trip.

W7 with her new Garmin avionics
We were also introduced to Fred Katterman, owner of Islip Avionics, at Oshkosh. Fred generously agreed to donate his services to install the new equipment. Installing new electronics in a 70-year old aircraft is no small feat, but Fred and his team were able to get the job done in less than a month and a half. In addition to installing the new avionics, Islip installed a power jack, external GPS antenna, and an external communications antenna for handheld units and put in a new door curtain (made by Global Aircraft Interiors) to help keep the cockpit warm during the cold trip across the North Atlantic. Fred's son Rick was kind enough to fly back to Geneseo with the aircraft to flight check the new equipment and train pilots Chris Polhemus and Naomi Wadsworth on their use. Both pilots were amazed at the capabilities and features of the GTN650's. We truly cannot say enough nice things or thank Fred and his team enough for the work they did on W7.

Rick Katterman of Islip Avionics showing pilots Naomi Wadsworth and Chris
Polhemus the ins and outs of the GTN650s

 We would also like to thank Sandia Aerospace for their donation of our new altitude encoder and Jeppesen for providing database updates and aeronautical charts for the trip.

Fred Katterman and his amazing team from Islip Avionics

Monday, November 18, 2013

Whiskey 7 coverage from News 12 Long Island

Christina Regnault from News 12 did a great piece on Whiskey 7 and Return to Normandy while the plane was on Long Island for its avionics upgrade. Check it out here:
WWII plane The Whiskey 7 overhauled on LI ahead of Atlantic flight

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Starting the Journey: Getting Whiskey 7 ready for Normandy

John Wadsworth, Loren Hoskyns, and Taro Pritchard working on W7's rudder

As venerable and durable as the Douglas C-47 design is, keeping a 70 year old war veteran flying takes a lot of work. Every winter, the dedicated volunteer mechanics at the NWM take on the the major task of annual maintenance on our flagship, Whiskey 7. This year they will have the added challenge of getting her ready for her trip across the North Atlantic. Work planned for this year includes:

  • A thorough inspection of every major part, assembly, and component of the aircraft
  • Oil changes for both engines and servicing of the hydraulic system
  • Replacement of all engine accessories with new or factory overhauled components
  • Repair and restoration of the main cabin cargo floor
  • Fabrication and installation of pan-style "paratrooper" seats which were standard equipment for C-47's during the war

Charlie Preston and Dave Andruczyk working on the landing gear last winter
Work will begin as soon as Whiskey 7 gets back from having new Garmin avionics installed at Islip Avionics. The aircraft will be moved into the hangar and placed on jacks. This allows the mechanics to inspect and test the function of her landing gear. Every door, hatch, and cover on the airplane will be removed to allow inspection. Over the course of the next few months, the airplane will be methodically inspected to make sure she's ready for the trip to Europe. At the same time, another team will be fabricating and installing the hardware for the new seats, restoring the cabin to its wartime configuration.

If you're in the Geneseo area, stop down on a Saturday morning and give the guys a hand, help is always welcome, no experience required. Stay tuned for more updates on our progress.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Naomi's Interview with EAA Radio

Naomi Wadsworth, our director of Flight Operations, did a fantastic interview with the folks at EAA Radio while we were at Airventure. Check it out here:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Congrats to our Contest Winner!

We are so excited to announce the winner of our trip to Normandy, Suzannah Kirk-Hacker. She recently shared her excitement and all kinds of family military history and we thought you would be interested. “I am so excited to be the winner of the trip. I put my Great Uncles name on the ticket. His name was Charlie and he was actually in WWI.  I put him down because I knew him and spent time with him as a child.”

I wanted to share a little bit about myself with you.  I grew up in Oak Ridge Tennessee, the secret city, which was important in World War II called the Manhattan Project.  I used to go to the American Museum of Science and Energy as a kid and there I learned a lot about WWII and the war effort.  Many of the scientists that lived in the city during WWII stayed in Oak Ridge so some were my parent’s friends or our neighbors.  The National Labs at ORNL still bring in scientists from all over the world.  As a result I met children from numerous countries and was lucky enough to establish friendships with a few.”

My father retired from the air force as a Lt. Colonel in 1975 and we left California for Delaware and South Carolina before finally settling down in Oak Ridge TN.  He was a pilot in SAC after MAC.  He tells me he flew the big planes.  He flew all over the world.  He carried the bomb when in SAC and was on call 24/7 with the rest of his crew. When in MAC he carried cargo in both Korea and Vietnam.”

There are too many members of Suzannah’s extended family with service to our country from WWI on to mention here but we especially liked one story her mother shared with her:
Charles Cravens was a tech Sargent with the engineer and was in every major European campaign and awarded medals. He never fought with Patton, but at the end of the war he was one of the first to come back after the prisoners were sent home so he was back way before everyone else. Charles landed in Normandy on Omaha beach in the early morning hours.  He was in the campaigns that took him through the Bouchage in France then the Hurtgen Forest in Belgium. He fought in the Battle of Aiken. He was located outside of St. Vith Belgium when German army came and he was told to get out of there if he could escape being taken as a prisoner and meet up with his unit. He was able to do so.  He was in the Battle of the Bulge the Ardennes campaign. He helped build the bridge of Ramagen.  Charles was one of the first engineers to get there and work on the bridge. While working on the bridge at some point he fell into the Rhine.The Rhine flows north and no one thought he would survive. He did, got out of the river, and walked back to camp.  He was one of the men chosen to meet De Gaul and De Gual kissed him on both cheeks and my mom believes he got a medal. This embarrassed him a lot to tell because he was kissed by a man.  He was a farm boy uneducated but good with dynamite.  When the ground was frozen he made fox holes with his dynamite and he had it on him all of the time.”

Please join us in congratulating Suzannah.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Whiskey Seven Coverage on 13 WHAM

13 WHAM's Angela Hong wrote a great piece on our efforts to take Whiskey Seven back to Normandy next year!
Read the story here

Sunday, August 25, 2013

National Warplane Museum's, “Return to Normandy Campaign,” Reaches Significant Milestone

Next year, 6 June, 2014, will be the 70th Anniversary of D-Day when allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. Just prior to that main assault, at 2:00 AM, C-47's, led by The National Warplane Museum's “Whiskey 7,” dropped members of the 82nd Airborne behind German lines over St. Mere Eglise, the location made famous by the scene in the movie, The Longest Day, of the paratrooper who got hung up on the town's clock from where he witnessed and partook in the fight to capture the town. 

The first $100,000.00 has now been raised to fund the ambitious plan to return “Whiskey 7” to her most significant moment in history, reenacting the jump as originally accomplished on 6 June, at the same 2:00 AM time. Members of the Liberty Jump Team, made up mostly of former paratroopers including members of the 82nd, will make static line jumps, with round chutes, while dressed as their forebears were on that historic day. 

Even with all ground and flight crew donating their time, it is estimated it will cost about $250,000.00 to fly over and back, the single largest expense being fuel which will average about $13.00 per gallon. Whiskey 7's two, 14 cylinder radials, burn a total of 100 gallons an hour. Her chief pilot, USAirways International 767 Pilot in Command, Chris Polhemus, estimates 25 hours flying over and 35 back against the prevailing head winds and another 20 flying as part of the D-Day celebrations which will feature Geneseo's historic aircraft. Now that we've raised $100,000 from museum members and friends from near and afar, NWM's treasurer, Don Wilson, reports,”... that in our next fund raising stage we hope to enlist support from area companies and interested individuals who will appreciate the importance and significance of what we're trying to accomplish.” 

Stirlin Harris (585 329-4338) 
National Warplane Museum / 585 243-2100 
3489 Big Tree Lane Geneseo, NY 14454

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Whiskey Seven Goes To Oshkosh

For the first time in her 70 year history, Whiskey Seven made it to the worlds largest airshow, EAA Airventure, in Oshkosh, WI. Airventure is a massive gathering of aircraft and aviation enthusiasts from around the world. The crew made the trip to promote the Return to Normandy Project and to meet with potential corporate sponsors who want to help return our D-Day Veteran to the skies of France in June of next year. 

Loading up in Geneseo
Pilots Naomi Wadsworth and John Lindsay approaching Oshkosh
On the ground under cloudy skies in Oshkosh
The D-Day Veteran aircraft arrived under cold and wet conditions (long-timers dubbed the first weekend of Airventure "Frostkosh"). The weather soon gave way to beautiful blue skies and mild temperatures for the rest of the week. The crew, including Naomi Wadsworth, John Lindsay, David Andruczyk, Lee Barber, Gary and Linda Mitchell, and Brian Roodra were on hand to give tours and educate show goers about the history of our flagship and our efforts to take her back to the most important place in her history.

John Lindsay talking about the history of our aircraft
W7 with her sisters on the C-47 line

Lots of folks stopped by to take pictures
Looks like 1944!
The reception to our efforts at Airventure was nothing short of phenomenal. Thanks for the EAA and Warbirds of America for having us. We look forward to sharing big news about our corporate sponsors in the very near future. Stay tuned!

Whiskey Seven under an amazing July sunset

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Our Mission


June 6th, 1944:

It's 2:00am. A US paratrooper rides aboard a 316th Troop Carrier Squadron C-47 "Dakota." Shaking in his boots, nervous of the events that lay ahead of him, the trooper mutters "37, Whiskey 7" repetitively. He had been assigned to look for those numbers the previous night, they represented the plane he was to ride into hell and jump out of. As though searching for some sanity and peace of mind, his muttering calmed his nerves. "Stand Up, Hook Up!" rattled the troop's trance, and they were all soon up and out. This was D-Day.

70 years after the "Great Crusade" to destroy Hitler's Atlantic Wall, the National Warplane Museum intends to re-kindle the history of the Normandy Invasion. Located in Geneseo, New York, the museum is a proud owner of a 1943 Douglas C-47A "Dakota." This is no average plane, however, as the NWM's C-47 actually served on D-Day, dropping paratroopers over St. Mere-Eglise, France. The lead plane of the 2nd wave over France, Geneseo's C-47 wore the numbers W7/37, and she still appears that way today.

The 1941 Historical Aircraft Group intends to travel to Normandy, France for the 2014 D-Day Reunion. To commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the brave Allied Assault into Nazi-Fortress Europe, "Whiskey 7" will actually re-enact the 2:00am paratroop jump. The "Liberty Jump Team," friends of the Warplane Museum, will jump out of "Whiskey 7" and complete, in essence, a real-life time machine. 

Donate today, help keep "Whiskey 7" and World War II history alive. After all, "those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it." (George Santayana)

Mike Ingrisano, a life-long museum member, was a member of the 316th Troop Carrier Squadron. He served as a radio operator to the C-47 that flew wingman to our "Whiskey Seven"/37 on D-Day. Small world, to say the least. Author of "Valor Without Arms," Mike passed away last winter. However, his dream remains. He always wanted to see "Whiskey Seven" return to Normandy, France, just one more time.