GENESEO — A vintage World War II-era airplane that slipped off the runway and into a cornfield during the recent airshow at the National Warplane Museum is expected to remain at the museum until repairs can be made.
The Canadian Harvard — recognized by airshow visitors by its bright yellow fuselage — was damaged as it attempted to land following its July 10 performance at the museum’s airshow in Geneseo.
The damage was confined to the outer right wing and aileron of the aircraft, “but it was significant enough that it rendered the airplane unflyable,” Allan Paige, chief operations officer of the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association, said in an email to The Livingston County News.
The airplane, which is among eight Canadian Harvards owned by the association, is currently being stored in the hangar at the museum. Paige said he expects the plane to remain at the museum until repairs are completed.
“We are exploring various options to repair and fly the airplane back to our home base in Tillsonburg, Ontario,” he said, “and are arranging for an inspection of the damage by an aircraft structural engineer in order to help us make a final decision,” Paige said.
Once the engineer’s report is completed, the association will be able to develop a timeline for completion of the repairs.
The Harvard aircraft left the runway upon landing and spun into the adjacent cornfield. The pilot, the lone occupant of the aircraft, was not injured.
Plane suffer what was described by airshow organizers at the time as “very minor damage”
The incident happened around 12:20 p.m. July 10 as four Harvards were landing one by one after their formation-flying demonstration on the airshow’s opening day.
The show’s announcer, Bill Lowe, was explaining the challenge of landing a Harvard in even a little bit of a crosswind and noted on one plane how the rudder was moving quickly from side to side, the result of the need for the pilot to make frequent adjustments to remain straight on landing.
Moments later, the plane trailing the one singled out by Lowe caught its wing and was spun into the corn - the plane briefly rising up before the pilot brought the plane to a stop several rows into the cornfield.
The pilot exited the aircraft and as he climbed out, turned and raised his arm toward the flightline to acknowledge that he was OK.
Members of the Geneseo Fire Department and Livingston County Sheriff’s Office responded immediately.
The incident caused a short delay in the show — no performances took place while the site was checked and secured. During the downtime, vintage recordings were broadcast — one ad encouraged people to create Victory Gardens, and another for Texaco said “Caring for your car is caring for your country.”
The show resumed in about 20 minutes.
Jim Swain, restoration crew chief for the Harvard Association, said in a Facebook post that the plane’s pilot was fine and the “Aeroplane is fixable. People here are super supportive - from FAA to air show volunteers.”
The National Warplane Museum, in a statement posted on Twitter, also thanked first responders for their prompt and professional response.
The plane remained in the cornfield until after the show when representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration began an investigation.
The Harvard was the primary, single-engine advanced training aircraft used by the British Commonwealth Air Training plan to prepare pilots for duty in World War II. It continued to serve as a trainer with many countries, including Canada, which used it until the mid-1960s.
The Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association, which formed in 1985, is a group of volunteers based at Tillsonburg Regional Airport in southerwestern Ontario. They Association acquires, preserves, restores, maintains, displays and demonstrates the Harvard and other training aircraft associated with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and the Royal Canadian Air Force.