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Rarified Air

World’s only flying Pitcairn PA-18 arrives in Oshkosh

June 25, 2009 — Around this time last year, Jack and Kate Tiffany, of Spring Hill, Ohio, Jim Hammond, of Yellow Springs, Ohio, and the crew of Leading Edge Restorations were anticipating the flight of the recently restored Pitcairn PA-18 Autogiro to Oshkosh for AirVenture 2008. However, the rotor blades were significantly damaged during testing about a week prior to Oshkosh and the flight had to be called off.

That made this week’s (June 24) arrival of the PA-18 that much sweeter as the 77-year-old rotorcraft landed safely at EAA’s Pioneer Airport on Wednesday afternoon, in plenty of time for this year’s convention. A total of 19 Pitcairn PA-18s were built from 1932-1933, and this one, the result of nearly a decade-long restoration, represents the only flying example left in the world.

The last leg of the journey to Pioneer was from the Hartford, Wisconsin, airport, about 38nm south of Oshkosh.  With just a hint of emotion in his voice, Jack remarked as the ‘gyro took off on the final leg from Hartford, Wisconsin, “ It’s unreal [to see it depart]; 40 miles from Oshkosh, after nine years…it’s unreal.”

Plans are for the aircraft to be displayed at – where else – Pioneer’s Pitcairn Hangar until right before AirVenture, then it will be relocated to the Vintage area on convention grounds for static display throughout the week.

After convention, the PA-18 will return to the Pitcairn Hangar for display through August. Andrew King, pilot, may even fly the Autogiro in EAA’s Good Ol’ Days of Aviation event scheduled for August 29-30 before departing to the airport in Brodhead, Wisconsin and then back to Spring Hill, Ohio.

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