April 19, 2012

Pheasant Airplane to be Welcomed Home on April 21st



Dr. Harlo Donelson is photographed with the Pheasant airplane in New York before it was dismantled for its return trip to Memphis.


Just months after the idea was formed to return one of only three remaining Pheasant airplanes to its birth place in Memphis, the dream is coming true.

A special welcome home celebration has been scheduled for Saturday, April 21st at 1 p.m. on the east side of the Memphis square. The town's newest resident will be unveiled, as the plane will return to its home and be unveiled following a lengthy truck drive from New York.

Organizers are planning to unload the fuselage and wings, which will then be towed to the Wiggins Family Museum (the former Farley's Furniture Store) on Highway 136, where the plane will be reassembled for display.

The next step for the committee, which organized the plane's purchase and return to Memphis, will be identification of a permanent home for the flying machine that was built in Memphis more than 80 years ago.

In the late 1920's Memphis was home to the Pheasant Airplane Company. An untimely accident involving the company's founder compounded with the onset of the Great Depression, cut the high note in the small town's history short.

In December of last year, Dr. Harlo Doneslon was visiting family in New York, when he made contact with the owner of the historic Pheasant aircraft and learned that it was available for purchase.

It took less than three months for the community to join together and raise the estimated $75,000 to buy the plane.

The community's piece of history is one of only three pheasant airplanes believed to still be in existence.

The plane was purchased from Tim Dahlen of Vintage Aero Collection.

The plane was originally restored by Bill Schwenk of Southampton, NY.

According to a November 22, 2007 article in the Southampton Press, the then 94-year-old sold the plane to Dahlen and his partner, Ed Katzen. As part of the transaction, Dahlen concluded Schwenk's 77-year-long love affair with the plane, by taking him for a flight in the 1927 biplane.

Now the plane is headed back to its birth place.

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