PEACHTREE CITY, GA. (June 15, 2023) – A rare P-63 Kingcobra painstakingly restored over 18 years will fly this weekend (June 17-18) at the Columbus Air Show in Columbus, Ohio. The aircraft was one of the most advanced propeller-driven planes before the end of WWII. It arrived too late to see action with American pilots, but it became a test plane in 1945 for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), predecessor of the National Aeronautics Administration (NASA), and carries the word “test” in large yellow letters on its nose.
This P-63, completed by mechanics at Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Airbase Georgia in Peachtree City, Ga., had an extended history of restoration, partly because of a Mississippi River flood that damaged it early in its rebuilding years in Missouri. The parts were transferred to Airbase Georgia, where dedicated mechanics started work in 1999 and brought it to life in 2017. It flew that year at Wisconsin’s EAA AirVenture and in 2018 at Florida’s Sun & Fun event, where it performed a generations flight with a NASA T-38 jet. It has appeared in various other airshows, providing viewers with a rare glimpse of a little-known part of American military aviation history.
The aircraft was given a name, “Miss Betty” in honor of the late Betty Bishop, a “Rosie the Riveter” who actually worked on it when it was built in Niagara, N.Y., in 1944. She lived in Macon, Ga., and loved visiting the restored aircraft at Airbase Georgia, endearing herself to the Airbase members.
“We hope to demonstrate this unique aircraft at more airshows around the United States so many additional audiences can appreciate its history and the dedicated work that went into the restoration,” said Airbase Leader Joel Perkins. “We also have three other WWII aircraft in the restoration process, including a Stearman bi-plane, P-19 trainer and a P-47 Thunderbolt.”