POPLAR GROVE, Ill. (WTVO) — A group of pilots in Poplar Grove have built a brand new, flyable re-build of a 1918 Curtiss JN-4 plane, otherwise known as a “Jenny.”
“It was the first mass-produced aircraft. Like I said, they built 7,500 of them in over 18 months,” said Steve McGreavy.
The original plane was built by the Curtiss Aeroplane Company in New York and was first used by the U.S. Army Signal Corps as an observation and training aircraft.
It was later used for flying mail and barnstorming in the 1920s.
Building the new plane was a labor of love, put together by the Vintage Wings and Wheels Museum, at 5151 Orth Road.
It utilizes a re-built, WWI-era OX-5 engine, but the body of the plane is new, fabricated from scratch.
“Anybody that you know that’s a famous name from the past, Jimmy Doolittle, Bessie Coleman, Charles Lindburgh, all learned how to fly on a Jenny. So, the Jenny taught America how to fly,” said Don Perry.
Perry was the Jenny’s project manager, and says his family has close ties to this particular aircraft.
“My grandfather [Dominick F. Perry] learned to fly a Jenny back in the late teens and early 20’s. He owned a Jenny and learned how to fly in a Jenny,” Perry said.
The small group of pilots who helped build it say they take very exceptional care of their sweet girl
“Well, I was about 7 years old, playing in the backyard at my folk’s house and I heard an airplane fly overhead. Then I looked up and I said, that’s what I want to do when I grow up. Ever since then, I knew I was going to be a pilot,” said Ken Starzyk.
The “Jenny” will be on display this Sunday, May 22nd at 9:00 a.m. at Poplar Grove Airport.