The Bamboo Bomber Flies Over Kansas

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The Jayhawk Chapter of the Commemorative Air Force is no stranger to historic aircraft, but their latest project still catches the volunteers' attention. Most were on hand last Friday to see their restored Cessna UC-78 Bobcat -- affectionately called the "Bamboo Bomber," take off. "It's a very rare aircraft. There are just a handful of Bobcats flying now," John "Hooter" Myers, spokesman for the group, recently told The Wichita Eagle. The aircraft was one of 4,600 advanced trainers built to teach thousands of bomber and cargo plane pilots during World War II. The all- volunteer crew overhauled both engines and installed a new interior and wheels. The aircraft languished in the Arizona desert for decades and was found in fairly good condition so the overall restoration project was not too expensive, only running about $6,000 to $7,000. Local aviation companies also helped with the restoration by donating equipment. This specific bomber was manufactured in 1943, then assigned to Douglas Army Air Field in southeast Arizona during World War II before it was purchased by a private owner who stored it in the airplane-friendly environment of the desert. The UC-78 Bobcat was Cessna's first twin-engine aircraft and the company later developed a civilian version. The military trainer cruises at about 150 mph. The group's next project is another military trainer, a Fairchild PT-23.