An article about the man and the aircraft was puplished in the Peach State Airdrome Newsletter 11/4/2011
Flabob’s “lost airplane in a barn” Flies Again
35 years ago, a disassembled but complete Fairchild PT-19 (M62A) was trucked to Flabob and stored in a small hangar. Over the years, the owners paid rent faithfully; but lost interest and abandoned the aircraft. Eventually, the hangar doors jammed with dirt, and inches of dust hid the sleeping warbird. In 2007, the remaining living owner donated the aircraft to Flabob, the doors were pried open, and the hidden treasure was revealed.
The Wathen Foundation has a “Homestead Act” provision that allows excess foundation aircraft projects to be given new life in a unique way: they are turned over to willing restorers who agree to return it to flying condition on Flabob in a reasonable time. If successful, it is sold to the restorer for one dollar.
Enter Don “Pops” Newman. In 1984 Pops restored a basket case PT-19 at Gillespie Field in San Diego. It took him four and a half years, and when complete it won prizes everywhere. Don’s circumstances changed, and he was forced to sell his beauty. When Pops retired, he came to Flabob; set out to finish his A&P, and soon became a key member of the Flabob community. Many know Pops as the crew chief on the “Flabob Express” our signature DC-3 seen at Oshkosh and air shows throughout the southwest.
The abandoned PT-19 was a natural for Pops, it would be his second, and a chance for him to regain a Fairchild. When he submitted his request to Homestead the project, the Wathen Foundation Trustees approved unanimously. Don set to work with gusto, first rebuilding the dusty old hangar that held the aircraft, then on to the tedious work of rebuilding a 70 year- old wooden airplane. Pops does everything with craftsman- like precision; soon the beautiful Fairchild emerged, restored exactly as it served at Garner Field, Uvalde, Texas in WWII. Pops says “I kinda got it down on the second airplane, took me a year less; I remembered valuable lessons from the first project.”
The first flight was on October 26th, all of Flabob was elated, but the biggest grin of all was on the face of Pops who took his beautiful one dollar “airplane in a barn” out of the shadows and into the sky.
PT-19 on first flight at Flabob Airport.
Pops Newman after the flight.