A Fair Child - the Cornell's First Flight

Isn't she lovely... Isn't she beautiful... Isn't she precious?” So goes the happy and proud lyrics of Stevie Wonder's song about his new born baby girl. Well, we feel the same way about our just-completed Fairchild Cornell. After a gestation period not much longer than a human's, she emerged shiny and new from the warmth and love of the Vintage Wings Hangar into the light of day for the first time no more than a couple of weeks ago. Little Cornelia Regina Eugenie Fairchild was born Friday, May 20th, 2011, at the Verdugo Memorial Hospital, weighing in at a little over 2,565 pounds. Baby Cornelia and the Vintage Wings mothership are doing well. She was born with the prerequisite two ailerons and two wheels and the family was happy that there were no complications... other than a little gas. She is already sleeping through the night and takes to a warmed bottle of avgas like a colt to a mare. Friends and family are invited to visit Baby Cornelia and in lieu of clothes, cash gifts towards her education are welcomed.

Now, like a foal standing for the first time, our little beauty has climbed tentatively into the air she was born to inhabit and, like proud parents, our hearts beam with pride and emotion. And, like those selfsame parents, we have a wallet fat with baby photos to share with you at the office cooler. Pardon us if we tell you we might have the prettiest baby Cornell in the land.  Thanks to the ever-talented Peter Handley, who was on hand at the rebirth, we can't wait to show you our baby pics. Did you want an eight by ten or a wallet-sized shot?

She will soon join brothers Harvard and Stearman and sister Finch for a short trip to visit the homeland.

AME Paul Tremblay goes over last minute technical details with veteran test pilot John Aitken. Both men will share the duties of the first test flight - Aitken, the flying and Tremblay, also a pilot, the monitoring of instruments and other functions. Photo: Peter Handley

Paul Tremblay is a man who really gets into his work. Part of the job of an aircraft maintenance engineer is to work in confined and difficult to reach places. Here he makes last minute adjustments prior to the first flight. Photo: Peter Handley

Fairchild Cornell 10712 waits patiently for her rebirth at the hangar door while a film crew goes over her and technicians and volunteers discuss the upcoming flight. Photo: Peter Handley

One look at the front end of this baby, and you immediately see the quality of the restoration work - perfect paint by Korrey Foisy and exceptional metalwork by Oscar Verdugo's team.  Photo: Peter Handley

Mechanic Andre Laviolette (L), F-86 Sabre pilot Rob Fleck and Swordfish pilot Bob Childerhose (R) inspect a large scale RC model of a Cornell built by Ed Durand - whose family once owned Cornell 10712. Photo: Peter Handley

Durand's model next to the real thing. The model is painted in the markings of another Cornell purchased by the Durand family after the war and restored by Ed's brother Bob. Photo: Wanda Kowalski

Prior to rolling the Cornell out to the ramp, Aitken completes his walk around. Photo: Peter Handley

While Tremblay (right) watches, Aitken fires up the Ranger engine. Photo: Peter Handley

In the air at last... Ulrich Bollinger in the Harvard chase aircraft slides beneath the Cornell so that photographer Handley can start shooting. Photo: Peter Handley

Wearing the markings she would have worn at No. 15 EFTS, Regina, Saskatchewan during the war, Cornell 10712 looks every inch the warbird she once was. Photo: Peter Handley

Aitken, a highly experienced test and formation pilot, moves up the port side of the Harvard photoship. Photo: Peter Handley

Aitken and Tremblay come alongside while Handley fires away. Photo: Peter Handley

Aitken slides the Cornell beneath the photoship and Tremblay clearly enjoys the view. Looking down in the cockpit of the Cornell, one can clearly see the checklists in both pilots' hands. Once again, the workmanship of the Vintage Wings team is easy to see. Photo: Peter Handley

Coming up on the other side, Aitken holds formation in tight through a left turn. Photo: Peter Handley

Over the lakes dotting the Gatineau Hills, the Cornell looks as she would have nearly 70 years ago. Photo: Peter Handley

Time to come home. Photo: Peter Handley

These days, it's pretty well impossible to surprise a Vintage Wings pilot or mechanic with a bucket of post-solo or post-first-flight ice water, so instead, a drive-up dousing station was set up.  Tremblay was forced to stand while Lilli Potter, assisted by her always helpful father, tipped four gallons of Ottawa River water over his head Photo: Peter Handley

“Why, I ought to . . ." Tremblay accepts congratulatory handshakes, but not before promising Lilli revenge. Photo: Peter Handley

Mission accomplished, Lilli scampers away. Photo: Peter Handley

Afterwards, Aitken debriefs volunteers - including Ed Durand (in Yellow t-shirt) whose family purchased a number of Cornells (including 10712) from surplus stores at Windsor Mills, Quebec after the war. Photo: Peter Handley

Soon, Cornell 10712 will vanish over the western horizon on her way to the West Coast. We will not see her until her return from Yellow Wings Tour duties in August. Godspeed baby. Photo: Peter Handley

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