OWLS HEAD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — One of Maine’s most popular museums is trying a new way to rebuild one of its old treasures.
The Owls Head Transportation Museum is restoring its popular "Red Baron" triplane, a reproduction of a Fokker DR-1 from World War I.
The original plane was made famous by the German flying ace called the "Red Baron" in the so-called Great War.
The museum’s curator, Ethan Yankura, said they want the plane restored to full flying condition as part of their observance of the 100th anniversary of United States' entry into World War I, which happens this year.
He said none of the original Fokker DR-1 planes still exist. This one was built in Maine more than 40 years ago for Ken Cianchette, who later gave it to the museum. Owls Head aircraft curator Bob Bailey said the reproduction was "very accurate."
Yabkura said the original triplane had the dual advantages of tremendous lift and maneuverability, which made it very effective in aerial combat.
The red triplane has been a popular attraction at the museum for years and now needs to be repaired and renovated. The work is being done by volunteers, who are taking the plane apart, piece-by-piece, labeling everything as they go. They will soon have the fabric covering stripped off and the framework of the plane exposed.
At that point, Bailey said, there will be some structural repairs made before the plane is inspected by the FAA. After that, the whole thing will be recovered in Dacron fabric and reassembled. Then a rebuilt engine will be installed and the DR-1 will be ready to fly.
Despite the lack of labor costs, reconstruction of the Fokker will cost an estimated $50,000.
Yankura says the museum is preparing a new exhibit for the World War I centennial, part of which will focus on Baron von Richthofen, the real Red Baron.
The Fokker DR-1 isn’t likely to be ready for this year, says Yankura, but will fly again in 2018, in time to mark the final year of that war.
Aircraft curator Bailey said the public will be very glad to see the plane fly.
"A lot of people come through here, and one of the questions they ask is, 'Where’s the triplane? Where’s the Red Baron airplane?' It is important for us," Bailey said.
Museum curator Yankura agreed.
"To see this in the skies over the museum will be tremendous," he said.