Museum Director, Jim Jenkins, details the incredible odyssey revolving around the acquisition of Staggerwing N25K by the North Cascades Vintage Aircraft Museum. Jim’s multi-part blog begins with a little history.
by Jim Jenkins, Museum Director
The North Cascades Vintage Aircraft Museums connection with Staggerwing N25K goes back to April of this year with my trip back east to look over the late John K Desmond Jr. collection of historic and iconic machines that Mr. Desmond began collecting in the mid 1970`s.
Barry Smith our museum president had been personal friends with John Desmond for over 20 years and got to know John and his collection quite well, and on occasional trips back east Barry would always pay a visit to see what his friend was working on.
It was during one of the these trips that John showed Barry his treasured and just recently restored Beech D17-S Staggerwing N25K, resplendent in all her orange/red and maroon livery with the typical Beech Speed Bird paint scheme.
During subsequent visits Barry saw that the Beech had not been flown since completion, Barry thought that this was peculiar but would later find out that J. K. Desmond was more of a restorer and collector than flier and collect he did. John`s vast collection grew over the years, 40 plus to include many rare and historic machines.
President Barry had been made aware of the provenance this particular Staggerwing had–she was kind of a pedigree in her own right as N25K was manufactured by Beech on 04-11-44 as a military variant of the prewar D17-S and following completion was flown with three groups of Staggerwings to various bases in the northeast United States for their planned boat trip on a lend lease program slated for Great Britain and WWII. Our N25K flew into Fort Dix, NJ., was disassembled and loaded on a ship bound for England.
Staggerwing s/n 6881, N25K served with the 781 Squadron and ferry pool, Registration FT511, R.N.A.S. Lee-on-Solent, England. She was flown 282:00 hours from July of 1944-December 1944, upon wars end the Staggerwing was shipped back to the US and declared surplus by the War assets administrator.
On August 12, 1946 the C.A.A. ( now F.A.A.) took over ownership of N25K and flew her another 210:00 hours flying N25K from Washington , D.C. to Bangor , Maine and from LaGuardia, N.Y. to Pittsburg ,PA then selling her to A.S. Wikstrom Inc. of NY state who operated N25K up to 1956 and piled up another 1024:00 hours.
Sometime in late 1956, N25K went in to dry storage till November of 1977 when J.K. Desmond became the second civilian owner and would own her until NCVAM would take over the reins on 10-02-15, with a total time of 1490:00 T.T. on the original engine and airframe.
Here is Jim’s next post in this multi-part blog on the Staggerwing N25K about how the museum was able to acquire the aircraft when Jim thought it virtually impossible.