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Fairchild PT-26 Cornell N75463

Fairchild PT26 Cornell N75463

Fairchild PT-26 FH950 (N75463) was built at Hagerstown, Maryland, under the Lend-Lease Act of 1940. It was received by the US Army Air Force (USAAF) on January 30, 1943 and transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) at Toronto, Ontario, on February 9, 1943. RCAF records indicate that FH950 was in service at No. 34 Elementary Flying Training School in Assiniboia, Saskatchewan from February 10, 1943 to July 7, 1944. While there, the Cornell amassed a little over 1566 hours of flight time. While the aircraft was in RCAF service, it was modified by adding two identification lights, one along the top of the fuselage aft of the canopy, and one on the bottom of the fuselage. These lights were activated by means of two or more Morse code keys, one in each cockpit. The lights could be operated in either "code" mode or a steady-on position. (All Cornells built by Fleet Aircraft in Ontario already had this equipment installed at the factory.

On July 22, 1944, FH950 was put into Stored Reserve at #3 Training Command, and remained there until August 1, 1946, when it was transferred to the Office of Foreign Liquidation Commission and ferried to Niagara Falls, New York. While there, it was brokered by the M.C. McCabe Company, and the first civilian owner was a Mr. Gordon Gormley of Tyler, Texas. Over the years, the aircraft passed through the hands of a number of owners, and when it was acquired by its present owners, Joe and Mark Denest, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA, it was in a fairly dilapidated condition. Restoration began shortly after this, and took approximately five years.

Detail Photos:

Anyone who wants to restore a Fairchild PT has to consider whether the center section needs to be rebuilt or just repaired. Joe and Mark's airplane needed to be rebuilt, but they didn't mind, because now it will last for many more years. This photo shows the center section with all new ribs and intermediate framing ready for the 3/32-inch mahogany plywood.


The finished center section in July 1999, ready to be mounted under the fuselage. The center section rebuild process took approximately 470 to 500 man-hours.


It took less than a day (about six hours) to mount the fuselage on the center section, with three people working at a steady pace. The project is beginning to look like an airplane!


This elevated photo shows the newly-mounted wings and clearly displays the style of markings used on all Fairchild-built Cornells. Over the years, the Denests have collected about eighty or ninety original photos of all the Fairchild PT models. This made the task of researching the markings much easier.

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