Flying High

P-51 Mustang JUN14

Entering the hangar owned by David Marco at Craig Airport is like walking into a slice of aviation history.

“Generations in Aviation” is the theme of the Marco hangar, which houses sev eral iconic aircraft dating back to the oldest, a 1938 lockheed 12A, which have been fully restored and are actively flown.

In restoring these vintage planes, Marco also pays homage to the three generations of pilots in his family. His father Seymour Marco, who flew B-24 bombers during World War II, exposed David and his brother Michael to flight at a young age, piloting his family frequently around the country and later to the Bahamas and south America. from there, the two boys became hooked on flying and took it up themselves. the two even took part in flight acrobatics as young men—and their father allowed them to fly themselves to locales in the Caribbean and to the western states.

David’s son, Michael, took up flying at the age of 14. Now 22, he’s following in his father’s footsteps (or flight plan, if you will), flying to various points throughout the United states and even piloting an airplane to college. Michael also serves as an aviation instructor at Craig Airport.

The hangar is where the family’s adoration of flight is on display. Upon a floor that is kept pristinely clean sits a collection of aircraft that hearkens back to the bygone years of barnstormers and adventurers in the air. Though it’s not open to the public, the hangar can be leased for weddings and special events. Below are a few of the highlights of Marco’s collection.
The Lockheed 12A
The oldest aircraft in Marco’s collection, the Lockheed 12A, was restored to the original design it had when used as a corporate plane by the Phillips Petroleum Company. Built in 1938 and referred to as the Electra Junior, most would remember the iconic aircraft from the final scene in the movie Casablanca where Ingrid Bergman boards it with her husband as she leaves Humphrey Bogart in the African fog.

The eight-seat, six-passenger all-metal twin-engine plane was designed for use by small airlines, companies, and wealthy private individuals. However, primarily due to World War II, Lockheed deemed it more critical to produce the larger aircraft that could better serve the war effort. Production of the Model 12 ended in 1941, with only a total of 130 planes produced.

In the months leading up to the war, some Model 12s were modified to serve as spy planes—flying undercover as British Airlines over German and Italian military installations for mapping and secretly taking aerial pho- tographs. During the war, many civilian Lockheed 12s were requisitioned by the U.S. military.

The Lockheed s/n 1250, built in 1938 and housed at the Marco hangar, is one of only eight worldwide that still fly today.
The Beaver
The Canadian de Havilland DHC-2 (the Beaver) is a single-engine, high-wing, propeller- driven aircraft manufactured by de Havilland Canada, primarily known as a bush plane.

During its heyday, it was typically used for cargo and passenger hauling, aerial application (crop dusting and aerial topdressing), and was widely adopted by the armed forces as a utility aircraft.

Over 1,600 Beavers were produced until 1967 when the original line shut down. The bush plane, which can easily be fitted with wheels, skis or floats, is capable of landing on water, snow or land. It’s designed for flying into rugged and remote areas, with large dual cargo doors on either side that can be used to fill the plane to the roof with supplies.

A few of the several hundred purchased by the United States Army are still in service, used by the Civil Air Patrol for search and res- cue missions. Notably, the Royal New Zealand Air Force Beaver supported Sir Edmund Hillary's expedition to the South Pole.

Super Decathlon
First introduced in the 1970s, the Super Decathlon is the final and most powerful aircraft in the American champion line of aircraft. The fully restored, bright yellow Decathlon at the Marco Hanger has all the original features, including tandem seating and classic stick and rudder controls, and is constructed of welded metal covered with fabric to keep the aircraft light.

A slump in the general aviation industry at the end of the 1970s forced the Decathlon out of production within a decade of being intro- duced. However, since its re-introduction in 1990, the Super Decathlon has sold steadily.

Decathlons and Super Decathlons remain popular as aerobatic trainers, as beginning and intermediate aerobatic aircraft, and as personal aircraft.
The P-51 Mustang
The family’s respect for the airplanes and vehicles used during wartime is also reflected in the corner display for the P-51 Mustang, a fighter plane which David says “was instru- mental in helping us win World War II.”

The North American Aviation (NAA) P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single- seat fighter and fighter-bomber introduced during World War II. Built to specifications provided by the British Purchasing Commission, the P-51 was first flown operationally by the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a tactical-reconnais- sance aircraft and fighter-bomber.

The addition of a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, which is also on display the Marco hangar, transformed the Mustang’s performance at altitudes above 15,000 feet—where it could match or better Germany’s Luftwaffe fighters. From late 1943 on, the Ninth Air Force used the Merlin-powered Mustangs as fighter-bombers, to help ensure Allied air superiority.

The display also includes the Willy’s Jeep—the small, four-wheel drive utility vehicle manufactured from 1941 to 1945 that is con- sidered the iconic jeep of World War II.

Paying further homage to World War II, on an upper level floor that juts out from the north side of the Marco hangar is a replica of a World War II Quonset hut in England. Camouflage covers the outside of the hut, and inside there’s a small bar that includes gen- uine artifacts of the early 1940s—including an authentic Nazi poster used as a dart board, along with a photo of Gerald Montgomery, who piloted the P-51 Mustang “Sizzlin’ Liz” that Marco purchased and restored.

By restoring and protecting these items, Marco says he wants to preserve and honor the memories of all the U.S. and Allied wartime veterans.

Each aircraft and vehicle procured, restored or collected by Marco is a true reflection of his passion about various eras of aviation— and the love of flight by three generations of a family.