By Brad Segall
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – A rare piece of local aviation history is coming back to the Philadelphia area, but not the way many aviation enthusiasts had been hoping for.
The 1931 PA-8 Mailwing, one of only two remaining, has been housed at the Trenton-Robbinsville Airport but will soon go on permanent display at the Wings of Freedom Museum at the now-shuttered Willow Grove Naval Air Station.
Mark Hurwitz of the Delaware Valley Historical Aircraft Association says the 81-year-old plane was built by Harold Pitcairn who had the government contract to transport mail by air.
“These planes were designed to be safe and they were designed to haul the mail up and down the East Coast. Eventually that part of his business was sold off to another entity, which eventually became Eastern Airlines.”
Pitcairn owned most of the property before it was transferred to the government during World War II.
Hurwitz says the plane will be disassembled, trucked in and then put back together.
“We were hoping that the plane could essentially fly home to where it was built. Unfortunately, due to the BRAC process (no blame being assigned) that’s not something that could be done, although the runway is still in great shape.”
Hurwitz says they hope to have the plane on display by the Labor Day weekend.