|By Carmelo Turdo|
Brad Deckert, owner of an electrical contracting business in Eureka, IL, keeps his Avenger at Illinois Valley Airport in Peru, IL in part because located there is a hangar with a door tall enough to clear the aircraft's height. The aircraft was delivered by the General Motors Eastern Aircraft Division to the U.S. Navy in March of 1945, and served with Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadron 234 aboard an escort aircraft carrier during the Okinawa campaign. The aircraft served in various units until the mid 1950s, when it was acquired by civilian operators for fire fighting and spraying duties. Deckert acquired the aircraft in 2008, and has since done extensive restoration to make the aircraft not only airworthy, but well on it's way to being the most complete example of its type. He feels that it merits top three honors so far.
It is a sobering thought that a one-time first-line combat aircraft, a torpedo bomber with three crew members that was once maintained and flown by operational military units, was on display for anyone who visited Greenville Municipal Airport Sunday. Keeping these aircraft flying, let alone looking pristine, is a challenge. "We figure about 25 hours of maintenance for each hour of flight," Deckert said. "There is a core group of five and expands out to others that help to about a hundred." He also said that he has a large cache of spare parts, but often his team makes the ones that are difficult to find elsewhere. More on the Avenger can be seen from The Aero Experience coverage of the TBM Gathering at Illinois Valley Airport in Peru, IL.
The Aero Experience thanks the Greenville Pilots Association and Brad Deckert for their hospitality and for their efforts in preparing this community event. Here are a few more views of Brad Deckert's Avenger: