Thu, Aug 26, 2004
Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Come In Out Of The
Hurricane Charley cut a wide swath through central Florida
August 13th, leaving broken lives and uncertain futures in its
wake. Like so many in the path of the storm, Kissimmee Gateway
Airport was hit hard with up to 70 percent of its planes
destroyed and/or damaged along with the various FBOs, Warbird
Museum and flight operations on the field. Based at the Kissimmee
Airport, Warbird Adventures T-6/SNJ flight operation was severely
damaged at their home base next to the Warbird Museum.
Before the storm, the planes were shifted to Ranger Aviation's
newly constructed 18,000 square foot hangar for safety along with
two Bell helicopters. The winds clocked in at more than 100 mph,
but the hangar stood strong.
Then there was the tornado.
The building was flattened with Warbird Adventures' two SNJ's
and two helicopters inside along with almost a dozen more planes
that had taken shelter from the approaching storm in Kissimmee.
Clean up has started. Flight schools are giving lessons in their
few remaining planes. Corporate jets are arriving and amazing
progress has been made to get back to "BC time" -- Before
Warbird Adventures is already setting its sights on the future
"post-Charley" and will be operational again in the
Kissimmee/Orlando area around Labor Day weekend. Two of their
Warbirds have been traveling over the summer giving flights in New
York State and the Chicago area. Returning in September, the two
remaining SNJ/T-6s will fill in for their two damaged hangar mates.
This fall, Warbird Adventures will not only be able to share the
thrill of flying a WWII fighter/trainer with visitors but also
their stories of how they survived Hurricane Charley.
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