Refurbished Aircraft Has History of Military Use

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 26, 2003 | Go to article overview

Refurbished Aircraft Has History of Military Use


It's certainly not the most intimidating military aircraft in the arsenal.

The single-engine Navion was used for reconnaissance during the Korean War, but was occasionally involved in mid-air skirmishes with enemy aircraft. Its history is almost as rich with legends as some of the military's fighter jets, according to Lombard resident John Moran.

"They were shipped from the factory unarmed," Moran said. "But according to legend, pilots would strap bazookas under the wing and a co-pilot could fire them with a wire attached to the trigger."

Moran said he tested the legend on a restored Navion he owns with three other partners.

"I could put two or four on the wing," he said. "(General Douglas) MacArthur let the pilots do anything they wanted to them."

The Navion has become a popular plaything for retired military pilots, with nationwide clubs available for enthusiasts.

But Moran's refurbished Navion isn't just any other rehabbed plane. It's fully restored to the specifications set for the Navion corps when it was a military craft, complete with faux Navy markings.

"It's done in insignia blue, with Korean War stars and bars," he said. "It could go right to combat if we went back to the 1950s."

The seat cushions are even removable like Korean War pilots liked it.

"They would use their parachutes for padding when they'd sit down," Moran said.

The aircraft is based at West Chicago's DuPage Airport and is one of the most unique planes housed there, said Brian Kulpin, an airport spokesman.

Moran did not serve in the military, and the Bartlett High School vocational education instructor's interest lies nearly as much in the refurbishing and history of the plane as flying it.

"They were just legendary in Korea," he said. "They were so overbuilt they could do things they weren't designed to do."

He said they gained fame by being the only Army planes capable of landing on Navy aircraft carriers, earning the Army pilots a higher level of respect from their Navy counterparts.

The plane makes appearances at area air shows and has won awards for its owners.

"It was done strictly for fun and to respect the veterans who flew planes like it for our country," Moran said.

Smoothing the transition: Three DuPage County school districts teamed up to design a new program to help students who struggle with making good grades.

Lake Park High School District 108 and its two feeder districts - Roselle Elementary District 12 and Keeneyville Elementary District 20 - designed a program targeting eighth-graders.

"This very specifically targets the transition to high school, and provides students with the tools they need to succeed," said David Victor, assistant superintendent for curriculum at Lake Park.

Roughly 30 students were selected from Spring Wood and Roselle middle schools. …

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