Skip to comments.How a Texas collector ended up with millions worth of World War II fighter planes
Posted on 09/16/2015 3:31:04 PM PDT by artichokegrower
Tuesday marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, when Royal Air Force pilots took the reins of world history, repelled the prelude to a Nazi invasion and defended the land from which America would lead the D-Day landings four years later.
But few folks likely know that West Texas long hosted one of the world's finest collections of WWII-era warplaneslargely because the small fleet of historical aircraft were never advertised or opened for public viewing.
(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
And the last pic showed him with a 2-seat Bf109E. Several 109 fuselages and a Spitfire. Pure unobtanium—straight from the Battle of Britain...
Wow. Just wow.
A nice find, but that’s not a Bf-109. It’s a Hispano Aviación HA-1112 with a RR Merlin engine. It’s probably a veteran of the movie Battle of Britain, but not the battle.
They are the aircraft used to film the movie.
I saw the movie when it came out. Thought the color scheme looked familiar. I was aboard the HE-111 they used in that movie, the [then] Confederate Air Force flew her and a B-24 to Metcalf Field in Toledo for display. It was a passenger model with the windows, painted in period camo, I think one got a glimpse of it in the movie, but I could be mistaken. Still cool. One can almost stand up in a B-24, but you sure can’t in a B-17. Amazing how cramprd they are inside...
You see photos of the B17 waist gunners where there appears to be a fair amount of room to move around, but it’s a lot less than you would assume.
“Writer Dave Hirshman and photographer Chris Rose told the story for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association last year, of how a successful 81-year-old West Texas oilman, Wilson “Connie” Edwards, ended up with more antique European fighter planes in his secluded hangar than the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has in Washington, D.C.
Edwards told AOPA that he never meant to be a collector, yet he acquired a Spitfire fighter plane that really fought Nazis in the Battle of Britain, plus a half dozen Spanish Buchons and a similar number of small American-made craft from the era.
In fact, Edwards credited his riches largely to luck; his family’s land sat atop a wealth of oil and gas, and a late-1970s investment in the business of family friend Sam Walton really paid off when Walmart became the world’s largest retailer. A solo pilot since 16, Edwards had the gracious ability to act on his passions.
But his prized holdings, the European aircraft, came to him as unorthodox payment for his role in 1969 film Battle of Britain, starring Michael Cain. Edwards was a stunt pilot and choreographed the dogfights. In lieu of working for credit, the spunky Texan demanded a handful of the movie’s airplanes, and he got them.
“They owed me a bunch of money at the end of the movie,” Edwards told AOPA. “They were going to give me an IOU and you don’t take an IOU from any movies. I just told them that I’d take the airplanes so I ended up with 16 Messerschmitts, and I traded two of them for this Spitfire.”
I took a ride on the EAA’s B17 and 6’3 me had some adventures getting around in it. Well worth the $400 ride.
This is handheld 60D footage. Just happened to be there when a slot came open. I just went to look at it.
Yeah, there’s not a lot of room in there. I’m 6-2, so maybe a tad taller than the guys in the pics. I read it was -50° F at combat altitude, I walked a half-mile for ciggies once in that wind chill temp, but had big layers on. At least I didn’t die.
David Gilmour of Pink Floyd had a pretty substantial collection of vintage aircraft including, IIRC, a Spitfire and Hurricane at one point, but I believe he’s sold them off.
A guy who did electrical work at Connie Edwards place years ago told me that Edwards had quite an Air Force. Some of the planes were still in crates.
I knew another fella who had been out to Joe Mabee’s place because he knew Mabee’s German A and P mechanic. Mabee also has his own air wing and airfield.
Alas, us piles of rocks are not quite in that economic class.
That He 111 may be the one that was lost in a Wyoming crash.
May not get another chance and am glad I did.
The next day I went back just to watch and hang around a little.
That morning was hazy until about 11. It finally cleared and the first crowd got on board. One guy had been trying to catch it for years and finally got his chance.
The engines started and a few minutes later were cut. A booster pump failed and all flights cancelled.
I think it made it out the next day.
My old man said that the altitudes the air crews operated at in Europe in un-pressurized planes that they had to be careful about what food they ate pre mission.
Gassy chow and heartburn could be a trifle uncomfortable.
Aw, that sucks. I even bought the T-shirt, and walking around with a warbird on your chest with a swastika on its tail made me a little nervous wearing it to work, but everybody dug it, so, phew...
There's nothing like the sound of those big radial engines throttled up! I saved your video to disk, too. Thanks!
Glad you liked it.
Thanks for watching.
The Tri-Motor will be in my area next month and I will see about riding it again. There is a video package on my YT channel for it as well. A lot more stable. The seats were a bit tight but well worth the ride.
I will see about a 4K Go Pro soon for it and other things I have on brain.
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