The Liberty Gazette
July 1, 2008
July 1, 2008
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely
Mike: We continue to receive updates from Dayton native, Patrick Griffitts. In March we wrote about his rare find last June of an Evangel 4500, a twin engine short field takeoff and landing bush plane, sitting in decay on the island of Yap. A pilot for Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Patrick sees some of the most interesting places in the world. When he stumbled upon the Evangel, a great story was about to unfold. The $1 purchase will still be expensive to restore; just shipping it to the U.S. cost a pretty penny.
He returned to the island in November to disassemble the plane for shipping. The good folks of Pacific Missionary Aviation loaded it into a container in January and soon it began its journey to the U.S.
Held up by customs in Hong Kong, Shanghi and Hawaii (“they about never let it go”), it finally arrived in Seattle in May. After neighbors helped Patrick unload the airplane, he wrote, “Well that is about the last update for the next 15 years. Going to take a lot of work and funds to get it in the air again someday.” So we asked him about his restoration plans. “I’m not sure when I will be able to start a restoration of the plane. I’m thinking over several options but in the end it would tell a good story.” The subject of a feature article in Air Progress Magazine, and flown by former Nazi-turned Christian missionary, Ed Kalau, this bush plane is one of only eight of its kind built by Carl Mortensen for use in missionary aviation.
Patrick is researching the history of the airplane and gathering documents to tell this story. He has all the original logbooks, records, and a complete history including photos, and has access to specifications and blue prints. Some day, he says, he’ll publish a book on this project.
Linda: With a hefty investment already, Patrick is looking for partners to help bear the cost to get this rare plane back in the air. He’s running an ad in Barnstormers.com and within five hours of posting, he says “one guy from New Zealand wrote asking me to sell it to him.” He won’t sell the plane, but intends to give it all the TLC needed to getting it flying again.
Meanwhile, we continue on the search for just the right youngster for the gift Patrick donated during the live auction at the Neault Fly-In Benefit. He purchased the one-hour aerobatic ride or instruction from Harvey & Rhin Aviation in LaPorte, for the sole purpose of donating it to one young person who does not have the funds for such an experience but would love to learn to fly. “Don’t worry,” he told us recently, “I’m keeping it in prayer.”
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com.