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The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Monday, October 3, 2016

Greenville Airport Hosts Grumman Avenger World War II Torpedo Bomber at Weekend Event

By Carmelo Turdo
The Greenville Pilots Association, based at Greenville, IL Municipal Airport, hosted their 50th Anniversary Fly-In/Cruise-In Sunday.  This community event has attracted unique aircraft, auto clubs and even farm equipment for display over the years for the enjoyment of the local residents of Greenville and surrounding areas.  The most unpredictable element of any aviation event, the weather, offered clouds and drizzle most the time across the Midwest and kept some of the expected aircraft from reaching the airport in time.  The star attraction, a Grumman Avenger World War II-era torpedo bomber, did arrive safely Saturday with pilot Brad Deckert and event coordinator Sherry Schaefer on board.  The Aero Experience was there for the Avenger's arrival, enjoying several fly-bys over the runway before the large, single-engine warbird trundled onto the apron and folded its wings for easier hangar storage later in the day. 

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:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What a great opportunity to be around such an important piece of history! I am still in awe that something this big can fly so gracefully. Brad was doing his best to get to our event and was weathered in the night before. I drove up to that location to retrieve him since it looked like he would be weathered in another day. I never imagined that the ceiling would lift just enough for him to make it to GRE within an hour and that he would ask me to ride along since I was familiar with the area. Opportunity of a lifetime! Although the weather was less than cooperative at the Greenville event, everyone will remember that day thanks to the presence of the TBM Avenger and Brad's effort to get their despite the weather.