Aeronca donated to EAA Museum

OSHKOSH — An Aeronca restored by 35 students at the Flabob Airport Preparatory Academy and other schools in Riverside, Calif., was donated to the EAA Museum last week during AirVenture.

The “Aeronca Project” was sponsored by the Thomas Wathen Center. Over a period of 5.5 years, under the supervision of Roger Farnes, the students transformed the derelict Aeronca Super Chief 65CA from a basket case to an airworthy aircraft.

The kids from the Aeronca Project in front of the Flabob Express DC-3 at this year’s AirVenture.

The youngsters learned not only the old-fashioned craft skills needed for a steel tube, wood and fabric aircraft, but team work, leadership, persistence and patience, Wathen officials said. They earned credit toward flying scholarships, and most of them have completed their private license.

One of the students who was very active with the project, Anthony Ward, earned his pilot’s license as part of the process, and flew the aircraft out to AirVenture in 2006. It took him 75 hours to make the round trip from Flabob to Oshkosh and back. Ward, now a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, was present at the donation ceremony at AirVenture 2012.

“We wanted to put the aircraft on display at a facility that gets a lot of traffic so it can serve as an inspiration to other young people,” said Bill Sawin, CEO of The Wathen Center. “With the aircraft in EAA’s hands we know that people will recognize and appreciate the tremendous accomplishment of the students at Flabob. The airplane embodies the goal of bringing young people into aviation which the Wathen Center shares with EAA.”

“We don’t use kids to build airplanes; we use airplanes to build kids,” Thomas Wathen said.

Continuing the tradition, more than 30 Flabob students are involved today in restoring a Stinson 108-3 and a Stits Playboy.

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