Monday, 18 October 2010

That Lady Jenny

1917 Curtiss Jenny JN-4D
“Did she smile?” one of the docents asked me repeatedly.
It was getting late in the day. I’d spent most of it walking around with video and digital cameras recording and photographing the six volunteers and Uncle Len putting her back to one.
First the upper wing, then the lower one. Right side, then the left. The struts. Then the rigging.
“Okay Leonard, rig it!” said Tom Cathcart of the Museum of Flight at one point.
There were cables and turnbuckles coiled up everywhere.
“There’s more cables then a Steinway,” he exclaimed.

Leonard King outside the Museum of Flight

Leonard had brought the Manual of Rigging Notes, Technical Data along with pictures of the original restoration in progress. He’d also slipped a magnifying glass into his pack which came in handy.
The docents of their higher years, many with glasses posed together over the photographs and the glass catching glimpses of the threading for the wires.
By tea time she was one.
The tail was lowered back to the ground. Ladders moved aside. There she sat in all her grandeur. No cover so the actual build and design of the 1917 Curtiss Jenny JN-4D was in plain view for all eyes. No pun intended.
Six years later she is complete again.
And yes, she has a smile.
The display re-opens Friday, October 22

1 comment:

A Fresh Thinker said...

Jane..Interesting...I received mail from Howard Lovering, former Director of the MOF calling my attention to your blog and your reference to the Jenny project along with remarks about "Uncle Len ". I am in the process of putting together a time line so that I can write "finis" to all of this. You did not mention that while Leonard was there at the beginning of the restoration...he was also there at the beginning of the end..not quite sure when I first called him to talk about putting the ship back together, around 2004 I believe. Later he was key to opening the door for funding from the Whittier Investment Co. Early on I had talked to the then newly installed President & CEO, Bonnie Dunbar, told her about the Jenny origin and the installation in the new exhibit wing without the wings due to space limitations. She set about talking to her exhibit staff to see if a modification might be made to display the Jenny with wings installed. An exhibit design was prepared in 2007 that would make this possible. Finally it came down to funding the change and early this year I talked to Leonard about calling the Whittier Trust Co...which he did. He was assured the funding was forthcoming and the museum staff was notified so that work would start on the modified exhibit..As they say, the rest is history.
Time now to move on...fade away...a passing spirit, that should come and go having reached our objective... leaving no trace only a magnificent airplane returned to its original glory, the damage of the past undone......let others bask in the light of Mission Accomplished.