News & Gallery
For Immediate Release:
Rare Historical Aircraft Donated to Hagerstown Aviation Museum
One of a Handful of Flying Fairchild PT-19's Returns to Hagerstown
Kurtis Meyers Hagerstown Aviation Museum 717-377-7070
(Hagerstown, MD August 21, 2007) ? Ward Wilkins flew a silver and black Fairchild PT-19 to Hagerstown on Saturday. His journey started in Indiana on Friday, but the journey for the airplane started 64 years ago in Hagerstown. The 1943 airplane returned to the place where it was built, and Ward Wilkins donated it to the Hagerstown Aviation Museum. The airplane is one of an ever-decreasing number of flying PT-19's still in existence.
PT-19 flown by Ward Wilkins, returns to Hagerstown where it was originally built in 1943.
Ward Wilkins officially presents the PT-19 as a donation to the Hagerstown Aviation Museum, museum president Kurtis Meyers accepts the donation, during a moving occasion at the Hagerstown Regional Airport.
The PT-19 was manufactured in Hagerstown by the Fairchild Company starting in 1939 and continued in production through 1943.
The surprise donation came about because of the international news surrounding the return to Hagerstown of the last-flying C-82 to its home with the Hagerstown Aviation Museum. Mr. Wilkins also received a copy of the ?New Pegasus? magazine and was inspired by the achievements of the Museum over the past year.
"When I received the phone call offering the aircraft, I was thrilled. This was an incredible donation of a plane which made Hagerstown famous," said Kurtis Meyers, President of the Hagerstown Aviation Museum.
The donation of the historic training plane makes it the fourth plane donated to the museum in less than a year. "There are only about 240 PT-19's left in the world, and I would say less than half of that number still could fly, so this is a very unique and generous donation to the museum," Meyers said.
The museum acquired the last flying Fairchild C-82 Packet, nicknamed the Flying Boxcar, at an auction in Greybull, Wyoming, last August. Purchased with money donated from throughout the community, the aircraft returned last October to Hagerstown to the sound of applause from hundreds who witnessed its final touchdown. Following the international publicity of that donation, a C-119 was donated, along with an AT-6, and a blue & yellow Fairchild PT-19.
Meyers, and several museum volunteers and aviation enthusiasts were on hand at the Hagerstown Regional Airport, for the arrival of Mr. Wilkins and his PT-19, and the official "hand-over" to the museum. "It was quite a moment,? said John Seburn, Museum Board Member, ?The weather was absolutely perfect. Lorane Wilkins, who traveled to Hagerstown on a commuter airplane from Pittsburgh to witness the event, joined her husband on this special occasion."
The donation of this Hagerstown-built Fairchild PT-19 means that the museum now has two of the rare airplanes, "When we return our blue and yellow PT-19 to the air we will be one of very few museum?s in the world that can lay claim to the distinction of having two airworthy PT-19's," said Meyers. "Airplanes like these are very rare, since they are over sixty years old."
?To have two airworthy PT-19's in Hagerstown, where they were first designed and flown, is a real treat for our community," said Meyers.
To manufacture the PT-19 aircraft, over ten thousand people throughout Hagerstown worked on the production of the airplane. During the war years, companies all over town were employed by Fairchild to make parts and pieces of the PT-19. Furniture companies, machine companies and even the world-renowned pipe organ manufacturer, M.P. Moller made wings and center sections for Fairchild airplanes.
The PT-19 is an open-cockpit primary training plane that flies at a top speed of about 100 miles per hour, and has a range of about 240 miles. The aircraft, nicknamed ?The Cornell," is a two place, tandem seating, cantilever low-wing monoplane with fabric-covered welded steel tube fuselage, fixed landing gear, and plywood-covered wood center section, outer wing panels and tail assembly. There were over 4500 PT-19's of this model manufactured in Hagerstown and tens of thousands of pilots trained on this aircraft preparing for World War II service. By 1944, more World War II pilots had received their first introduction to military flight in Fairchild PT-19's than in any other aircraft. This number includes not only US and Canadian students but also pilots from Great Britain, France, Norway, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Rhodesia and India.
According to Ward Wilkins, his family has owned at least one PT-19 ever since the end of World War II. Ward?s father, Clint Wilkins, was trained in a PT-19 during the war. He went on to fly B-24 bombers in the 5th Air Force, but when the war was over, his love for the airplane that had taught him to fly motivated him to acquire one when they were made available for civilian purchase and use. Many WWII airplanes including the PT-19 were destroyed after the war, but a considerable number of PT-19?s were converted for Civilian training organizations and private use.
The Wilkins family built a hanger and landing strip on their five-generation family farm in Indiana and their father's love of airplanes soon inspired Ward, who went on to a successful career in historic aircraft restoration and flying.
Ward Wilkins, who piloted the Museum's newest airplane to Hagerstown said, "This was an emotional experience for me. The PT-19 has been so important in our family's life, and I?m glad to finally find a place where this much loved airplane belongs, a place where I know it will be taken care of and loved." The Hagerstown Aviation Museum has the largest museum-owned collection of historic aircraft in the State of Maryland. The Hagerstown Aviation Museum now has more than ten historic and rare aircraft, and is currently raising funds for a permanent location for its planes, and interactive and interpretive displays of Hagerstown's aviation manufacturing past.
To learn more about the museum, and its current location at Discovery Station, see: www.hagerstownaviationmuseum.org. The Hagerstown Aviation Museum, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the region?s more than 90 years of extraordinary aviation history.