The B-25 in the Backyard

My Father’s Historic Airplane Sanctuary


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SKU: 9781476680668 Categories: , , Tags: ,

About the Book

Only in America could Walter A. Soplata, the son of penniless Czech immigrants, accomplish so much single-handedly saving historic aircraft from World War II and other periods. After a childhood spent building model airplanes while dreaming about having his own airfield, Soplata worked in a large scrapyard taking apart hundreds of warplane engines. Shocked to see a rare engine or sometimes a complete warplane on its way to the recycling furnace, he began collecting whatever he could find and afford. He eventually collected nearly 20 complete airplanes and countless pieces of others. One of his Corsair fighters included the experimental F2G Corsair #74 that won the Cleveland National Air Races in 1947. Among other priceless airplanes he rescued was an experimental XP-82 Twin Mustang, an F-82E Twin Mustang, an X-prototype Skyraider, a stainless steel BT-12, and an F7U Cutlass—Soplata hauled the Cutlass fuselage home by stuffing it inside a junked school bus for its 600-mile journey. The story of a workaholic father and his aviation-obsessed son, this book records the accomplishments of a rare bird, just like the many airplanes he saved.

About the Author(s)

Wally Soplata spent the majority of his Air Force flying career as an Instructor Pilot (IP) teaching in T-37s, T-38s and C-141s. Following his Air Force retirement as a lieutenant colonel, he enjoyed a second flying career with a major airline flying the Boeing 727, 757, 767, 777 as well as the Douglas DC-10 and Airbus A300/A310. After retiring from airline flying as a Boeing 767 Captain, he continues flying a variety of General Aviation aircraft as a flight instructor. He lives in Collierville, Tennessee.

Bibliographic Details

Wally Soplata

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 236
Bibliographic Info: 90 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8066-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4029-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
1. No Place Like Home 5
2. Airplane Siblings 13
3. Sky King 18
4. Scraping By 25
5. The Banana Bus 32
6. Walter the Conqueror 44
7. Heavy Metal 47
8. The ­­Mother-In-Law 51
9. Wild Cargo 59
10. The Flying Zoo 66
11. The Little Six That Could 71
12. Wings of the Night 81
13. Treasure Hunting 84
14. On the Outside Looking Up 92
15. Chicago Clone 98
16. Plane Crazy 112
17. Delusions of Flight 124
18. Plane Folks 126
19. Along for the Ride 134
20. High Hopes 142
21. Carrying a Load Not Measured in Pounds 150
22. A Hollywood Part 159
23. As Is, Where Is—The Fate of the Hunted 166
24. “Your Place” 178
25. In the Grip of Obsession 182
26. Mother Load 190
27. Chasing the Dream 199
Epilogue: Live and Let Fly 204
Appendix I: Walter Soplata’s Airplanes: Where Are They Now? 209
Appendix II: Aviatrix Marge Hurlburt’s Hidden Treasure: Air Race Corsair Lucky Gallon 213
Appendix III: The Global Reach of Walter Soplata’s Airplanes: Lockheed Neptune #40436 217
Sources 221
Bibliography 223
Aircraft Make and Model Index 225
General Index 227

Book Reviews & Awards

• “The trials and tribulations of working with his exacting yet nutty-professor father and his Rube Goldbergesque style of engineering as applied to the physics of dismantling an aircraft are amazing, funny, and in some instances, simply insane.”—Air Classics

• “[W]ill leave you marveling and in awe… . It’s a grand story; best yet, it’s all true! Man’s ingenuity at its best demonstrated. ”—