February 11, 2013 - The EAA AirVenture Museum's rare North American P-64 fighter - often referred to by warbird lovers as an "export fighter version of the AT-6 Texan" - was started up for the first time in more than 20 years last Friday, and it was only fitting that EAA Founder Paul Poberezny did the honors.
It took place Friday, February 8, outside the Kermit Weeks Hangar, where it had been undergoing some restoration work over the past month after nearly 25 years in long-term museum display status. Museum visitors have seen the P-64 - the world's only remaining example - prominently displayed in the Eagle Hangar for years.
Since it was capable of running, they decided to crank it up - and who better to sit in the cockpit than Paul, who brought the aircraft to EAA's collection in 1964.
"He looked every bit the old pro up in that cockpit," observed Jeff Skiles, EAA vice president of chapters and youth education. "It was an exciting day for us all, but particularly for Paul."
Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety, helped Paul with the startup since it had been a while since Paul had been at the controls. After a few tries, and plenty of smoke and coughing, it started.
"Our purpose today was to put a preliminary run on the engine and check the ignition, electrical, fuel, and oil systems as well as the engines ability to run," explained John Hopkins, EAA aircraft maintenance manager. "And it did just fine.
"I had called Paul again two days ago and asked him if he would be up for trying to run the plane, and he most certainly was game to give it a go."
Read about the airplane's history and how it came to EAA's collection. Watch the video below of Paul firing up the P-64 for the first time in decades.