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Historic WWI DH4 aircraft will fly again

By Aaron Mudd
via the Bowling Green Daily News web site

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — Nearly 100 years after the end of World War I, a team of aviation enthusiasts in Kentucky is hard at work restoring the first warplane built in America — the Dayton-Wright DH4.

image007A total of 4,846 American built DH4s, dubbed the "Liberty Plane", served in thirteen Army Air Service squadrons during WWI."Not many people know about World War I," said Dorian Walker, a member of the Saving Liberty DH4 group. "That doesn't mean it's any less important."

Walker and the group members hope to remind the public of that importance by restoring the DH4 in time for test flights by next spring with plans for airshows across the country and a trip to France.

"It gives you a chance to witness something firsthand," he said, adding the historic, wooden biplane is a symbol for how far American aviation has come in 100 years.

For Blake Henderson, a pilot and aircraft mechanic from Westmoreland, Tennessee, restoring the plane is a way to connect with his own history.

Henderson's grandfather, W.E. Henderson, helped rescue the "Lost Battalion," which was the name given to roughly 500 men who were cut off by German forces over France's Argonne Forest.

Now, nearly a century later, Henderson looks at the DH4 as the plane that got America's servicemen into the air. After the British gave the U.S. the rights to build the plane, Henderson said engineers gave it a bigger engine, a higher-caliber gun and other modifications.

"We didn't have an air force so we had to build this up quickly," he said.

Restoring the DH4 is one way to shed light on what Henderson described as a "forgotten war," along with the sacrifices of veterans who fought under the brutal conditions of trench warfare.

"They need to be remembered," he said.

Read the whole article on the Bowling Green Daily News web site.

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