Ken Kirby of Kent, England, has restored airplanes for the Royal Air Force Museum, so he could not have been more thrilled to win a free ride Saturday in a restored Boeing mail plane.
The plane, which made daily flights over Roseburg in the 1920s, is the oldest Boeing still fit for flight, said pilot Addison Pemberton of Spokane.
The aircraft was one of 60 historic planes and 50 classic cars on display at the third annual Wings and Wheels at the Roseburg Regional Airport.
Kirby was among many who said they were most excited to see the Boeing 40-C.
“I’m thrilled. The people I know back home are going to be really envious,” he said as he waved to his son Matthew Kirby and daugher-in-law Teresa Kirby of Roseburg shortly before takeoff.
After he had circled the town twice and landed smoothly back at the airport, Ken Kirby was even more enthusiastic.
“That was more than fun. That was brilliant,” he said.
Kirby, 72, said he has been restoring planes with the Midway Aircraft Preservation Society for eight years, including two 1940s Spitfires at the Royal Air Force Museum.
Teresa Kirby confessed her father-in-law’s ride was a bit more than just good luck. It was actually she who had the winning ticket.
“I’m scared to death of planes, so he got my ticket,” she said.
Pemberton and nine friends spent eight years and 18,000 hours putting together the pieces left after the 40-C crashed into Canyon Mountain near Canyonville in 1928. The wreckage was lost for seven decades before being stumbled upon by members of the Oregon Aviation Historical Association.
Wings and Wheels organizer Carol Koontz said she rode on the plane’s warm up flight Saturday morning and loved it.
“It’s like stepping back in history,” she said.
Fellow organizer Chris Jordan said he is fascinated by the old Boeing’s history.
“It’s a bit of a celebrity of an airplane,” he said. “That’s a plane that used to fly over this town every day. To have it back here, to have it even fly is amazing.”
Jordan said he was impressed with Pemberton’s restoration.
“He’s just done an amazing job with so few parts to build with. It would just be so daunting to build something like that,” Jordan said.
Watching a yellow Skybolt 300 biplane head toward the runway brought back memories for retired Air Force Major Carl Sidders, 91. Sidders of Roseburg was a flight instructor during World War II and said the first aircraft he piloted were biplanes.
“I am one of the first flight officers in this country. My serial number is 57,” he said.
He said he has flown many different types of airplanes and does not have a favorite.
“If you like to fly, it doesn’t make any difference. If it’s got a motor and wings, I’ll fly it. I just love being off the ground upstairs,” he said.
Lee Holmes, 84, of Roseburg said he used to fly a plane similar to a 1940s-era Stenson Voyager on display Saturday. He said he has been hanging around the airport since 1946. He said he used to pull a grader on a tractor to smooth the runway, then made of gravel. Flying his own airplane was just so fun he did not mind volunteering at the airport.
“When you get this airplane fever, that’s what happens to you,” he said.
For 5-year-old Eli Kershner and his brother Avery, 7, of Roseburg, the best thing was watching the planes move.
Avery enjoyed watching the “launch off” and the landings, while Eli liked one piece of equipment best.
“I like how the propellers spin,” he said.
Attendance at the air show was free, but participants opened up their wallets and raided their pantries to donate to the United Community Action Network Food Bank.
Food Bank program coordinator Jeanine Coffey said 1,204 pounds of food were donated, up from 66 pounds last year. Visitors also donated $1,367.08 in cash.
“Holy moly, this is amazing,” Coffey said when the results were tallied. “I’m over the top overwhelmed with the generosity of the community.”
• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or email@example.com.