Liberty University students bring World War II plane back to life

Volunteers worked to preserve plane used to scout the enemy

LYNCHBURG, Va. – A group at Liberty University got the chance to help preserve a piece of history.

Thursday’s ceremony at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, which was expected to be the largest event there since President George W. Bush attended its dedication in June of 2001, featured an hourlong airshow with World War II-era planes -- but one of the plans on the ground recently got a makeover at the hands of some local aviation maintenance students.

Liberty University instructors created a makeshift paint studio so volunteers could turn a plane that was sitting outside at the D-Day Memorial from that era from gray to green, giving it new life.

“We didn't want to do a restoration. We wanted to do a preservation to it. We didn't want it to look like a brand-new airplane, but we want it to last a lot longer,” said Bob Howell, director of Liberty’s AMT program.

Howell said there are fewer than 10 of these planes left. They were used in World War II to scout the enemy.

“They get a bird's-eye view of the battle field in a sense, and they can call in friendly fire on to those emplacements to be able to destroy the enemy,” instructor Ron Taylor said.

The aircraft is made out of fabric, which doesn’t offer much protection.

“To me it amazes me that men would have such great courage that they would be willing to do such things as they did, so to honor them is probably the biggest thing,” Taylor said. 

The instructors didn't have a hard time finding students to lend a hand in the project. Instructor Wes Carpenter spent many nights and weekends in the hangar leading the students through the plane preservation.

“We did get a hold of plans for this aircraft, but there are no parts for this. The manuals that we have nowadays are very explicit,” Carpenter said. “What we have for this, there's none of that,” 

It’s a simple idea to simply say, "Thank you," to those who served.

“This is an important part of our history. Things could be very different today if it wasn't for that,” Carpenter said.

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