Engine Start For That's All Brother

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A piece of aviation history roared to life for the first time in a decade last week in an important milestone toward first flight. Crews at Basler Turbo Conversions in Oshkosh started the No. 1 engine in That’s All Brother, the C-47 that led 800 other aircraft in the invasion of Normandy on D-Day. The plan is to fly the thoroughly restored warhorse to France for a flyby on the 75th anniversary of the epic battle in 2019. “That’s kind of why the rush is on and why we’re doing all of this in the dead of winter in Wisconsin,” Keegan Chetwynd, curator of the Commemorative Air Force, told The Associated Press. The engine start revealed a hydraulic leak that will be fixed before another prop is turned.

The aircraft was discovered by an Air Force researcher in Basler’s boneyard, where it was destined to be converted to a BT-67, a turboprop version of the DC-3 that Basler sells worldwide. After he positively identified the aircraft as the one that led the invasion and dropped the first paratroopers on the beaches, the CAF launched a fundraising campaign that earned $380,000 in a month. To date, about 22,000 man-hours have been spent bringing the aircraft back from the scrap heap. First flight is planned for early in 2018 and the aircraft is expected to be used by the CAF in airshows and other outreach throughout the year. In 2019 it will retrace its flight path over the beach. The aircraft finished out the war in a combat role and went through 16 civilian owners before Basler bought it.

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