Beech 18 Lights Up Show

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Grimes Manufacturing, a major producer of aircraft lights, uses a C-45H (the military version of a Beech 18) as a test bed for their lights. The aircraft was originally built for the military, and was delivered in 1944. For 20 years it moved around to different bases and was used for different missions until it was sold to Grimes Manufacturing in 1964. After delivery, they immediately started installing wingtip and belly pods to mount various types of lights for testing. After that, the aircraft was flown not only for testing, but also as a sales demonstration airplane that they flew all over the country. In 1986, the airplane collided with a 30-foot utility pole during a fly-by and sustained serious damage. That was the last day for the Flying Lab.

The airplane sat derelict for 13 years until a former Grimes executive saw it and through his efforts his company then bought it. He and a few others, including one of the original mechanics from Grimes, started the Grimes Flying Lab Foundation. They pledged to fully restore the aircraft to flying condition. In 1999, the airplane was moved to Urbana, Ohio to start restoration. After eight years of weekend work, the restoration was complete. It was repainted to the original Grimes Flying Lab colors. The restored aircraft was unveiled to the public on May 31, 2008, and was on display at EAA Airventure Oshkosh. The airplane is currently equipped with 55 exterior lights plus numerous other interior lights for a total of 115 lights. For more information and pictures of the restoration, visit GrimesFlyingLab.com.