“The Golden Age Air Museum was started just to preserve aircraft from the golden age of aviation, which is the time between World War One and World War Two,” says Paul Dougherty, the museum’s president. “We have since branched very heavily into times older than that, World War One being one of them.”

And this weekend the museum will hold one of its annual events-the World War I Fly-in.

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“Pilots and aircraft owners from around the state, around this part of the country are invited, fly-in, show their airplanes off, just like a car show. And our big event is, we’re theming it to World War I, we’ll have World War 1 re-enactors, World War 1 one aircraft that we have here on display.”

The highlight of the fly-in will be the dedication of their newest airplane-a 1918 SPAD 13 fighter. It’s very new-they built it themselves.

“It’s been almost 13 years ago we decided to build a replica of the famous French SPAD 13,” says Dougherty. “So we acquired blueprints and studied every known SPAD photograph there is and looked at a couple of original airplanes that survived behind ropes today.”

“All the fabric work, all of the woodwork, all the welding, all the painting, you name it, everything else was done here.” says museum director Michael O’Neal. “That all came off of the blueprints, the original blueprints, and of course, the modern blueprints that we used that were developed from the original.”

The replica is accurate right down to the paint.

“This is paint that we mixed here using the original pigments that were produced by the original French pigment manufacturer, It’s still in business from World War One, in the proportions that were required. Plus, the secret ingredient in this paint mix is aluminum flake. That’s what gives it that kind of wet fish shine to it. The French were the only ones doing this.

But this is not what you would call a “generic” SPAD.

“This aircraft that we replicated was flown by an American by the name of Charles Biddle, who was from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and lived through the war and wrote a book about his experiences,” says Dougherty.

“It’s a SPAD 13 that was flown by Major Charles Biddle when he was a captain. Biddle later was promoted to major commanding officer, 13th Squadron,” adds O’Neal. “And as you can see on the airplane, for the US the paradigm was for squadron commanders to have the zero on the side of the airplane and there were red white and blue commander stripes that you see.”

The 13th Aero still exists, as the 13th Bomber Squadron, USAF, and they still use “Oscar” the “Grim Reaper” insignia from WWI. Adding it to the plane will be part of the dedication. It’ll be a family affair for descendants of the World War 1 flyers.

“We’ve got access to the original template,” says O’Neal. “We’re going to trace that onto the airplane. And then, the reason that the grandchildren are here is our plan is for that dedication at 1:00 in the afternoon, is to have the grandchildren each have a paintbrush and they get their opportunity to put paint on the art.

The one disappointment – they won’t be able to actually fly the plane this weekend. There’s a very important part missing.

“We had to have a very, very special propeller built, and the propeller is not completed. The propeller that’s on it right now is actually an original World War One SPAD XIII propeller. And so it’s just all in there for show.”

For more information on the Museum and the fly-in, click here.