There are not many Fokker Dr.I Triplanes left in the world.
How few are they? Well, actually, there are zero survivors of the thousands made. There are, however, replicas of varying quality, some of them, like this one, built from original plans and therefore quite good.
But it has a problem. Maintenance has been deferred for several years while museum management kept the once-flying bird inside on static display, and now that a new generation of managers want it back in the air, it needs a ton of work.
Which needs a ton of money ($90k). And with barely over a week to go, the plane’s owner, the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum at the Rockland County Airport in Maine is tens of thousands short of their goal on Kickstarter…
Moreover, this is the kind of Kickstarter campaign that is funded all-or-nothing — if the Kickstarter clock runs down and the Fokker isn’t Fokking funded, then the curators get zero for the project (and those who put up money get it back).
Here’s some of what they say about their fund-raiser.
We’re in the middle of the centennial of World War I, and the Owls Head Transportation Museum is embarking on a mission to return the Red Baron to the skies with its full-scale, flying 1917 Fokker Dr.I reproduction. This aircraft is one of the most iconic aircraft in history, and none are better known than those flown by Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron. Even 100 years after his death, people of all ages still recognize his name and can conjure the enduring images it provokes.
Since the doors opened in 1976, the Owls Head Transportation Museum has been a bastion of transportation technology in its truest form. As an operational museum, virtually every vehicle in the museum’s collection runs, flies, or drives. As one of our original pieces, the Dr.I was built in the 1970s by founding Trustee Kenneth Cianchette and has been seen flying over the skies of Owls Head, thrilling and teaching audiences for decades. That is, until recently.
In 2014, it was discovered that the Dr.I was in need of considerable repair and maintenance. From new fabric to cover the wooden wings and body, to repairs to the intricate and delicate wooden structures, and a complete engine overhaul, this airplane requires total restoration. Because there are no original examples in existence—and artifacts are few and far between—getting this aircraft running and back in the sky is especially important. This flying example is one of only a few in the world, and it is the duty of Owls Head to preserve its historical significance by returning it to airworthiness.
In telling the story of the infamous flying ace, the Owls Head Transportation Museum brings visitors face-to-face with the technologies that fueled the early 20th Century and teaches younger generations about why those technologies are still significant today. Once completed, our Dr.I will enlighten, entertain, and educate our visitors through first-hand interaction with the plane. Please help us return this piece of history to the skies as we honor the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I.
What is it worth to you to see the Red Baron back in the skies of
the Western Front mid-coastal Maine? Perhaps nothing, if you live far away. That’s OK; as always, when we plug some charity here, we have donated or intend to, even though we don’t always get out there to see it.
(We used to fly into this airport a lot, and so we had a membership at the museum. But that was over ten years ago).