The Liberty Gazette
March 18, 2008
March 18, 2008
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely
Mike: Patrick Griffitts’ flying career has taken him many places. One of those places was the island of Yap in the Western Pacific where Patrick found a piece of history.
From the late 60's to early 70's Carl Mortensen, of Orange City, Iowa, designed and built eight twin-engine bush planes called the Evangel 4500. I remember reading about the Evangel in Air Progress magazine in 1974. Patrick read that same article (available online at http://www.airbum.com/pireps/PirepEvangel.html). He even met Carl in 1995.
Last June the Dayton native found Evangel serial #006 abandoned on Yap. “She was parked in a corner of the airport, looking really rough,” says Patrick.
Recognizing the model, he inquired at a nearby hangar. The hangar belonged to Pacific Missionary Aviation (PMA) which flies missionary and charter operations to some of the Micronesian islands where no one else flies. “I didn’t have a lot of time to examine the plane but talked with PMA pilots, Peter Richert and Vince Davis; they gave me the short story.”
PMA founder, Ed Kalau, flew the plane from Iowa to Yap eastbound over the Atlantic, Europe and Asia in 1974, retiring it in 1994. Sold with a bill of sale, the new owner never transferred the registration and abandoned it over time.
“After my short stay on Yap I contacted Peter and Vince telling them I wanted to salvage the plane.” Patrick had the relic deemed legally abandoned and offered PMA one dollar, promising to have it removed by the end of the year.
“Carl Mortensen is one of the most interesting aviation people you will ever meet,” says Patrick. “He is dedicated to God and his mission in life. In August, before returning to Yap, I spent the day with him. We talked about the best process for taking the Evangel apart.” Now 73, Mortensen works each day on the Angel 44 (http://www.angelaircraft.com/).
Learning that Ed Kalau was living in Guam, Patrick stopped on the way back to Yap in November. The two men spent a few hours together at Kalau’s home. “Ed, a WWII Luftwaffe fighter pilot shot down and taken prisoner by the British, later became a U.S. citizen. He provided photos of the plane when it was new, and stories of its history. At least four people were born in that plane.”
“In nine days the plane was disassembled, loaded in a container, and shipped to the States for restoration. Others talked about restoring the old bird but no one followed through, so PMA was excited about my commitment.” A pleasant surprise, PMA had all the paperwork ever generated for the plane; logbooks, tags, letters, brochures. “It will help in the restoration and telling the plane‘s story.”
Linda: Wouldn’t it be a great boost to Liberty to house such an important piece of history at our airport, the one where Patrick Griffitts first learned to fly?
Mike: Yes, it would. Speaking of learning to fly, join us March 20, 7:30 pm at Houston Marriott Westchase, 2900 Briarpark, for a free Invitation to Fly seminar hosted by the AOPA via Project Pilot. Email us for more info.
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com.