"New" Me 262 Takes Flight

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One of the most ambitious heritage aircraft projects ever undertaken got some nice thick winter air under its wings Dec. 20. After almost 10 years of technical tinkering (the final months of which were spent mostly in delicate bureaucratic navigation), a serial production representative Me 262 twin-engine jet fighter took off from Paine Field, Wash., for a 30-minute hop, with Wolf Czazia at the controls. The flight was a "complete success" and a Web site devoted to the project promises further details soon. The project began with a dream of Classic Fighter Industries President Stephen L. Snyder in the early 1990s. However, remaining technical drawings of the fighter that put fear in the hearts of Allied pilots (and some say could have changed the course of the second world war if Hitler had diverted resources to its production) are either missing or scattered across two continents. Snyder, instead, found an unmodified original 262, owned by the Navy, and on outdoor display in Pennsylvania. A deal was worked out with the Navy to dismantle the original to use as a template and return it in restored condition. Construction began on the "new" separate 262 in 1993 in Texas. The project shifted to Washington in 1997 where a team made up mainly of retired Boeing personnel put it all together.