Jason Capra, C-53 Restorer, Discusses His Latest Restoration
We're talking about fifty three's horse because you've got one that that you've been heavily involved in in restoring. Can You? Let us sit back put our feet up and just tell us the story of this particular airplane and Maybe even backtrack a little bit sort of how you how you came across it what was the path that led you to it, and then the airplanes history itself yeah. That'd be more than happy to so just I've been lucky enough to be involved with another organization and warbirds Incisa teenager, and that was the Berlin airlift historical foundation They have this fifty four spirit of freedom. which unfortunately was just written off due to a tornado passed down in North Carolina. But I was I was lucky to be involved with that and be around Douglas Prop liners in big airplanes warbirds since I was a teen about fourteen or fifteen. So I I've been on the airshow circuit and I had been flying with Tim on that airplane and working on it. So I really got a really good hands on experience on working on these things. And I just so happen to be on my way home from Ground School for my airline that I fly for about five years ago. Now, her now I'm sorry, six years ago. And I was driving back to Pittsburgh and just got tired of being on the interstate. So I started taking all these backroads just trying to get lost. and seeing what I could find stumble across and ended up coming through this little town in Ohio called beach. City Ohio. And came around the bend and there's a grass airstrip sitting there and Kinda like flying community. There's houses with hangers attached to the. And then down at the end of the airport where the road parallels the runway there was. About twenty open air hangars that were in deplorable shape with their rotting away underneath of them. And right on the other side of that hanger was this DC three just. Basically, you know it's painted been oxidized and was turned powder, and there was mold growing on it and just windows were laminated didn't fogged over and the fabric honor flight controls were torn and it was just about the saddest thing I think I've ever seen in my life. And knowing that that airplane deserved better and I always joked about me and I'd love to find one of those barns. Fine words. You know it's kind of a dream for some of us out there that maybe one day you'd be Lucky enough to stumble across something like that. And and and here's this DC three that I know nothing about that clearly hasn't flown in ages. And I pulled off to the side of the road and walked over and walked around it and just everything about it just broke my heart and you could tell, and we always talk about these old airplanes having souls but this thing. This thing was crying out for helping and I cure it and I don't know why but right then and there I just kind of looked at the airplane and I said don't worry old girl. I'M GONNA I'm GonNa do something help you And When I left that day I was on a mission to track down the guy who. Owned it or whoever owned it, and I was going to try and see if there was something we could do to save. And that's pretty much how that started. Did you ever think that. You'd you'd actually own something like this I mean this is the spree a significant. Did you ever think you'd actually make it happen? no. I always thought I would own award and and have an organization of some such but My sites were being set on either a bt thirteen or maybe a cheese six. something a little bit more manageable and definitely a lot smaller. But it was just one of those things that I. You know has been working with Tim in the C fifty four for so long and I saw how essentially three or four dedicated people could make a four engined douglas work. And I thought well, if I could get two or three dedicated people, there's no reason we couldn't make a DC three work is half the size. And Tim always said that you know in his words he said anybody can operate a DC three if you have a little bit of knowledge and. He always said there's hope for you to on day. It was a joke. You know what? I he was right, and here we go. So we're going to give us shot so. That's awesome. So so what was the next step? How did you go about tracking down the owner? So I actually went on the FAA's website and just typed in the on number and. and. Sure. Enough. It came up with the gentleman's name is name was Ken Joseph. And So I saw that he lived in the Akron area somewhere. So then I just googled Ken Joseph Akron Ohio. And every Joseph that popped up I just blindly called and asked if they were the individual that on the DC three at the Beach City Airport. So it took me about three weeks to get hold of him and actually got a hold of his son I and he put me in touch with him. and. I just asked if I could come out and talk with them about the airplane and and take a look at it more in depth than I already did. And he agreed to that and he didn't know. Anything very much about the history of the airplane prior to it being the east to be the governor's airplane of the State of Ohio. And that was about the end of his knowledge is to what it was where it was. But obviously, I, I saw from the data plate inside when I went in that it was built an accepted on January nineteen forty two. Something like listening definitely has some combat history military history and nobody's seemingly knows what that is. I'm going to have to dive into that and find out. But So, after I talked with Ken for a while I told him I said, would you ever be interested in selling this? And he said, no, not at all I've had this airplane for since nineteen ninety three and he's like multiple people ask me all the time and I'm just not interested. and Said Okay and I said, well, let me tell you of the one of the other airplanes I fly and work on and. Were give me a chance I. I would do my best in in hyphen very confident that we would be able to give it a retirement that. This this other airplane I fly has and I think that's what she deserves and I think that's probably what you would like to see happen to it. I. Just need you to give me a chance. So we went back and forth for about a month or two and finally called me and said, all right. Here's the deal. I'll sell you the airplane for one hundred, thousand dollars. It comes with to spare engines. And you've got one year to come up with the the total balance of the airplane, you can put whatever you WANNA put down on it as collateral. But if you don't have the money by this time a year from now. I keep the airplane and your money. Wow that's a harder. The race was on to. The race was on to make it happen.