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Tue, Nov 20, 2007

Vintage WWII Aircraft Refinishing Company Grows

Lots Of Fathers And Sons Come To See Glistening Warbirds

An aircraft company that restores vintage World War II airplanes plans to double its size at the Huntington Municipal Airport in Texas.

Midwest Texans more than doubled its work force from 10 to 23 in midsummer, and the company plans to invest about $1 million in a 23,000-square-foot addition to the 14,000-square-foot hangar office facility it operates there now, according to the Fort Wayne Business Weekly.

While some aircraft fetch lower prices, WWII collector planes typically start at $300,000... so the eclectic business is bringing individuals with disposable income to the city.

Aircraft "from that nostalgic era of WWII bring a lot of dads and a lot of sons out to the airport, and it generates interest in aviation," according to owner Tim Savage, who adds his business has established itself as a leader in the restoration and maintenance of the North American T-6/SNJ and Harvard series of aircraft.

The company traces its roots to the former Stars and Bars Aircraft, which specialized in maintenance of those vintage planes used to train US WWII pilots to fly fighter and bomber aircraft.

Stars and Bars was bought in 2006 by Historic Aeroplane Works, which owns Midwest Texans. Stars and Bars continues to do inspections and maintenance, but Savage said it now focuses on the full "ground-up" restoration of the T-6 series.

Savage, a computer-consulting guru, founded Historic Aeroplane Works and Midwest Texans to pursue his longtime hobby of vintage aircraft restoration.

Savage's work was honored when he won ‘grand-champion' at the Experimental Aircraft Association' Air Venture Fly-In at Oshkosh, Wisconsin this past summer.

"Nearly 700,000 attended the event, making it an excellent opportunity to showcase Midwest Texans' capabilities," Savage said. "Our work has doubled or tripled; we've actually got 15 airplanes we're restoring right now," he said. "They're all sold before we do them. They're purchased and we complete them to the owners' specifications."

Midwest Texans is setting up a production line, which Savage said is relatively new to the restoration business.

"We're building 15 sub-assemblies. We're building the cockpit components for all 15 airplanes right now," he said. "Every nut and bolt comes out of them. All the rivets are new; the skin is new. We're the first ones to really take this type of airplane down as far as we have gone."

Customers include investment bankers, doctors, lawyers and successful entrepreneurs who "buy them because they're works of art when they're finished," Savage said.

"They enjoy having really nice things, and these are the best you can find."

FMI: www.midwesttexans.com/

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