After years of sitting in the desert, Columbine II had more than just technical issues for the mechanics to deal with.
A veteran’s story is priceless. And nothing compares to hearing that story firsthand under the wing of a plane—especially a plane that’s been where that soldier has been. Shortly after Columbine II landed at Dynamic Aviation, a Korean War veteran stopped by for a visit. Just days before, he had watched Columbine II soar over his home in Bridgewater, Virginia.
As he walked around the plane, stepping under the wing and touching the propeller, he told the story of how, as a young man fighting on the 38th parallel along the North Korean border, he had watched as President-elect Eisenhower had flown overhead, escorted by 30 fighter planes. He recounted what it had meant to him, to see the soon-to- be president so close to the frontline.
Now, 64 years later, here he was touching that same plane and sharing a piece of his story. Priceless.
By Brian Miklos
When we arrived at the Avra Valley Airport and got our first look at Columbine II, our first thought was about how huge this airplane was compared to the King Airs and the DHC-8s we typically deal with. We were all very quiet on the evening rides back to the hotel, a bit overwhelmed with the task before us. After several days of these quiet rides, Karl finally asked the question that was on all of our minds.
“Brian, do you think that we can do this?”
If Karl had asked me that at the end of the first day, I think I would have started running straight back to Virginia! But each day we saw more clearly what Columbine II means to so many people. That didn’t make the road ahead any shorter or any smoother, but it sure started to make the journey look worth it—so we jumped into the project with both feet.
Looking back now, it is immensely satisfying to say, “Yes, we can—and we did!”
The thing about Columbine II is that it takes us back to a different time. The 1950s and 60s were a time of peace, prosperity and rebirth. The restoration of this aircraft gives Dynamic Aviation a unique opportunity to share President Eisenhower’s legacy and the greatness embodied in his era.
Columbine II symbolizes the optimism and belief in the American dream that bolsters the human spirit—a message that reaches across generations. In the years ahead, we can look forward to the days when Columbine II can rejoin air shows; when school children can step inside and fall in love with aviation; when old-timers can sit under the wing and relive the aviation glory days.
From its glory days with President Eisenhower to forgotten in the desert,
Columbine II has gotten a second chance.