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1940s planes to make dead-of-night trip on Wichita’s streets to museum

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, March 24, 2014, at 2:41 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, March 24, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.

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In the black of night, two vintage planes will be moved early Wednesday from Yingling Aviation at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport to the Kansas Aviation Museum

It will take about three hours to make the 14-mile trip, museum officials said.

The planes, a 1949 Rawdon T-1 single-engine trainer and a 1948 Allied A-2 experimental aircraft, will be moved into a new restoration storage facility at the museum.

The storage facility was completed in the past month. Before then, the museum had no suitable way to store the aircraft, said Kansas Aviation Museum executive director Lon Smith.

The museum obtained a permit from the city of Wichita for the move.

It will take airport security, museum staff members and about 10 volunteers to complete the trip.

Moving the airplanes will be tricky.

It will take place in the early morning because of obstacles along the route.

“It’s going to be quite an ordeal,” Smith said.

There are several places where the planes will have to be unhooked from their tow vehicles, put on multidirectional dollies and snaked around obstacles, he said.

Maneuvering them under the bridges at I-235, I-135 and I-35 will be a challenge, Smith said.

“There are a few other places where it will be pretty tricky” as well, Smith said.

The Allied A-2 will be the most difficult to move around those obstacles because of its wingspan and length of the fuselage.

The trip will begin at 2 a.m. at Yingling. The planes will be moved across the airport to FlightSafety and exit onto Hoover Road. They will travel south on Hoover, east on MacArthur, north on Oliver and east on 31st Street to the museum.

The planes are expected to arrive at the museum about 5 a.m.

The T-1 trainer, which is still flyable, was built in Wichita by the Rawdon Co., which was located on Rawdon Field, now known as Beech North, according to museum information.

It was sold as a general trainer, an aerobatic trainer and crop duster. Some were sold to other countries to train military pilots.

The design was a two-place tail wheel airplane with a tandem cockpit, metal airframe and fabric wings.

Rawdon Co. produced a few hundred of the planes. Only 15 are listed as registered in the U.S. It’s not known how many are flyable, the museum said.

The Allied A-2 was built by Allied Aircraft, formerly located in northeast Wichita.

It was an all-metal experimental airplane with a V-shaped tail that preceded a similar design on the Beech Bonanza.

The A-2 had a manually retracted landing gear and a windshield that had to be pulled forward to allow the pilot to enter the plane.

It flew for the first time on April 9, 1948. Some 35,000 engineering man-hours went into the project. But a fire at Allied Aircraft destroyed the company, and the plane was never put into production.

The plane had a couple of different owners before being bought in 1972 by T.J. Balentine, a retired businessman from Oklahoma.

It took Balentine 15 years to get it ready to fly again.

Because the Allied fire occurred before the plane could be certified, the Federal Aviation Administration wouldn’t let Balentine fly it until he could prove it was at least 51 percent home-built.

To do that, he built a new wing and a new tail and installed a bigger engine.

He flew it to Wichita in 2012, and it has since remained at Yingling Aviation.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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