Fundraising efforts to restore “Tsunami,” the first original homebuilt unlimited air racer since 1939, have been launched.
The efforts are being led by Sharon Sandberg, daughter of Tsunami’s late owner, John Sandberg. She notes the remains of the plane have collected dust in a trailer in Princeton, Minnesota, for eight years, after spending 10 years in a hangar. She hopes to restore the plane to airworthy condition.
She says that flight tests and air races indicated that Tsunami was capable of speeds in excess of 500 mph, and the airplane qualified in the Gold heat races at the Reno Air Races, just one month after its first flight in 1986.
“The 25th anniversary of Tsunami’s first flight is Aug. 17, 2010, and our first goal by that date is to know that Tsunami is on its way to a flyable condition,” said Sandberg. “My hope is that all the pilots and aviation enthusiasts who marveled at the speed and sheer beauty of Tsunami will want to be part of our effort to have Tsunami fly again.”
Sandberg estimates that approximately $600,000 is necessary to rebuild Tsunami. Once flyable, the initial plans call for Tsunami to make a tour of various aviation events and museums before settling into a permanent home at an aviation museum.
“Tsunami is an historic airplane,” says Sandberg, “and I have vowed that, with help of the aviation and air racing communities, we will see Tsunami fly again. Once that happens, Tsunami will take its rightful place along with other important airplanes in a museum.”
Tsunami traces its roots back to 1979 when John Sandberg and Bruce Boland forged an agreement. Construction of the airplane began the following year. Tsunami made its official debut at the 1986 Reno Air Races.
Donations are accepted through Flight Expo, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, promoting and helping restore Minnesota-designed aircraft. Donations are tax-deductible.
In addition to raising funds to restore Tsunami, Sandberg is also gathering a historical archive of the biographies of the more than 100 individuals whose names are inscribed on the landing gear of Tsunami. It is a tradition among Reno Air racers to list supporters of a particular racer on its landing gear. A photo of the landing gear along with the list of people may be found at RebuildTsunami.org.
Donations in any amount are welcome and may be made on line at RebuildTsunami.org using Mastercard, Visa, Discover or American Express. Donors who prefer to send a check may send it to Flight Expo, Inc. in care of “Restore Tsunami” to P.O. Box 155, Zimmerman, Minn., 55398.