The Commemorative Air Force's Bell P-63F Kingcobra took to the skies again on April 14, near Houston. The Kingcobra had been grounded since October 2013 due to a forced landing. Although the aircraft did not suffer much structural damage in the forced landing, the engine, the propeller and the reduction gear box needed a good deal of expensive reworking. P-63F 43-11719 is maintained by the P-63 Sponsor Group and one of only two of the variant ever built. She is also one of only three flying Kingcobras in the world (the others being the Palm Springs Air Museum’s P-63A 42-68864 Pretty Pollyand the Legacy of Flight Museum's P-63C 43-11223).This aircraft sat disassembled in a hangar for 18 months following the accident, while the P-63 Sponsor Group planned and raised funds for the restoration work, which began in Spring 2015.
The restoration team had the wings reattached and the aircraft back on its gear again in August and reinstalled the rebuilt engine last November. The freshly rebuilt propeller and reduction gear box arrived in February and from that point on the aircraft moved quickly back to airworthy condition.
We spoke briefly with a Mark Allen, and they made this report about the first flight, "It took two high speed runs down the runway before the aircraft took of the first flight. The flight was 20 minutes long, circling over the Pearland (Houston area) airport at 2,000 feet. During the flight, time was spent checking the systems, specifically the fuel system and the landing gear, including a gear down flyby. Engine pressures and temperatures were monitored very closely. Some minor squawks where found and fixed before the next flight the following day."
It is great to see her back in the air. Expect to see her a good deal on the airshow circuit this year.
There is one other example of the Kingcobra in the CAF fleet, P-63A 42-68941 with the Dixie Wing in Peachtree City, Ga. The Dixie Wing P-63 is nearing the end of a decades-long restoration effort, and they expect her to be flying again in the coming months.
Watch this space for more information and updates!
Commemorative Air Force | 877-767-7175 | P.O. Box 764769 Dallas, Texas 75376