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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
Fairchild PT-23 Cornell
The Fairchild PT-23 Cornell is one of the most ambitious restoration projects taken on by the Air Zoo. Staff and volunteers invested thousands of hours and more than eight years to restore it.
The PT-23 is based on the PT-19. It was intended to fill a number of training roles-basic civilian training, government primary pilot training and basic instrument training.
The design of the PT-23 allowed a wide track landing gear, which would help prevent ground looping so often seen in the Stearman Kaydet and N3N Yellow Peril. With the "duramold" process for molding plywood and early plastic, flight surfaces of the plane were smooth and had a seamless appearance. Some mechanics have been known to say, "Rebuilding a Fairchild center wing section is a post-graduate course in aircraft woodwork." Extensive work was done to design the trainer to behave predictably and hold up to novice pilots' abuse.
The standard PT-23 instrument panel contained a typical array of instruments for its day: airspeed indicator, compass, clock, engine gage unit, tachometer, turn and bank indicator, and rate of climb indicator. The Air Zoo's PT-23, however, also has an artificial horizon (front only), transponder, loran (navigation radio and instrument), transceiver, circuit break panel and a battery box.