Rare KD2R-5 Added To Colorado's Spirit Of Flight Center
For more than 30 years, a Northrop (Radioplane)-built KD2R-5
Shelduck target drone sat on a pole in the dry desert near El Paso,
Texas. It was used as a low budget weather vane at the
Horizon Airport (T27), rarely getting attention and rarely attended
to. The Spirit of Flight Center air museum, located at the
Erie Municipal airport (KEIK) just north of Denver, had been
looking to add a target drone to its collection, and through a tip
from a visitor they became aware of the lonely weather
Several calls and e-mails later, the drone was recovered, taken
apart and shipped to Denver.
"The owner of the drone couldn't believe that we wanted it" said
Gordon Page, President of the Spirit of Flight Center. "The
first thing he said to me was that it had up to eleven coats of
paint on it, weighed a ton, and wouldn't be easy to take apart"
A month later, Astre Air of Watkins, Colorado did the recovery,
disassembly and shipping of the drone. They immediately
called Page to alert him when the drone had arrived and wanted him
to come pick it up as soon as possible.
"We had no idea why someone would want a big airplane model that
was 14 feet long and weighed over 300 pounds" said John Mulvey,
President of Astre Air. He went on to say "The thing was full
of sand and dirt, had a ton of paint on it, and the engine and prop
were in terrible shape. It was also incredibly hard to
disassemble after all the years in the desert, and we didn't want
to see it anymore after we got it to Denver".
The Spirit of Flight Center knew what they were getting and have
now begun to bring the target drone back to life. "We had
been looking for a target drone for the collection for years
because we knew that most of the 73,000 built had been destroyed,
which was the job of the drone" said Gordon Page. "We also
knew that actress Marilyn Monroe had been discovered in 1944 while
building the Radioplane drones, so it would be a neat addition to
the Spirit of Flight collection" added Page.
Several museum volunteers have now begun cleaning out dirt,
stripping paint, pounding out dents and rebuilding the engine to
bring the drone back to the way it looked as it originally came
from the factory. Museum officials say the drone should be
completed soon and will be taken to Airshows and other public
events in the museum's 24-foot mobile air museum.
Museum volunteer and WWII veteran George Meshko of Denver, CO
said "That engine on the drone was a bear to take apart and
rebuild. Thirty years of sitting in the desert and ten coats
of paint really did a job of seizing things up, but I love working
Founded in 1998, the non-profit Spirit of Flight Center facility
features over 1000 aviation artifacts at its Erie,CO Municipal
Airport facility. The museum counts a rare German
Messerschmitt Bf-109, North American P-51 Mustang and a Russian MiG
17 fighter jet in its collection.