The Fairchild Time Machine – Hangar Flying

By Aaron Dabney, EAA Lifetime 547930.

The little silver trainer stopped me in my tracks. It wasn’t the curviest or the most colorful among all the Art Deco masterpieces parked in the Vintage area at AirVenture Oshkosh 2023, but the lines weren’t what caught my eye. On the left side, just aft of the cowling, was stenciled a reference to a small town in central Texas. I’m not from there, and I’ve only driven through once or twice, yet this town holds great significance to my family.

“Coleman Field,” it read.

The Fairchild PT-19 was a mainstay primary trainer of the Second World War. In some ways, it was more advanced than its biplane cousins like the Stearman PT-17, but it doesn’t seem to have accumulated the same mystique and adoration over the intervening years. Still, nearly 8,000 PT-19s were built and they birthed many of the combat pilots who took on evil and saved the free world.

I knew one of those PT-19 students well. My grandfather, Joe Canion, completed primary training in the PT-19 in 1943. He earned his Army Air Corps wings later that same year. Through a fortuitous twist of fate, he completed advanced flight training at a base in our hometown and my grandmother got to pin them onto him.

He graduated up to the P-39 Airacobra and later the…


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