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The new Pacific Aviation Museum at Ford Island, Hawaii, is moving ahead towards an opening in December 2006 and has acquired several new aircraft including Boeing N2S-3 BuNo 07103/N5102N that had been flown by former president George Bush and in which he soloed on 15 December 1942 at Minneapolis, Minnesota. Naval Aviator Bush flew this Stearman for 1.5-hrs, one of five similar aircraft that he flew during his training. This example is the only airworthy survivor, reports KT Budde-Jones.

The Bush Stearman is on long-term loan thanks to Bob Meyland. The restoration took 14-yrs after Bob rescued the plane from an Oklahoma crop spraying accident. The plane flew for the first and last time in July 2004 from Kissimmee, Florida, from where it was recently shipped to Hawaii.

Another new addition is North American B-25J Mitchell USAAF s/n 44-31504/N9753Z which was delivered on 14 June 1945. With the end of the war near, the aircraft went into storage but was overhauled as a TB-25J in 1951. The Royal Canadian Air Force acquired the machine and operated it as RCAF 5218 at the Advanced Flying School, Saskatoon. The RCAF disposed of the aircraft in February 1962.

The Mitchell, along with N9754Z, gravitated to Hawaii. The planes were used in the 1964 film In Harm's Way and N9754Z was heavily damaged when an apparently drunk pilot hit a building during a low-altitude buzz. He managed to make a safe landing. Over the years, the planes rotted away at the airport, but N9753Z was acquired by at technical school at Honolulu Airport. N9754Z was eventually mocked-up with a single tail and blown up during the filming of Tora! Tara! Tora! After the tech school was finished with the Mitchell, it became a gate guard at Hickam AFB where it remained until being recently moved to Ford Island for the new museum.

(C) 2005 Air Classics. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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