New England Air Museum
Meet the P-51D Restoration Crew

They come form all walks of life and volunteer their time two days a week at the Air Museum to work on the P-51D Racer restoration project.

The members left to right are: Barry Cowles, Wayne Dow, Joe Kellog, Ed Patapas, Al Steinmetz, Silas Smith, Bob Upson, Rick Centore, crew chief Pete McConnell, Tom Palshaw, Bob Grzech, and Lou Rell.  Lou, the husband of former Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell, passed away March 20, 2014. We will remember Lou for his most interesting 10:00 a.m. coffee break stories of his outstanding pilots experience both in military and commercial service.

Our Mustang "N13Y" had such a glorious racing career that we all take much care to preserve her as she was in the 1949 Cleveland Ohio Thompson Trophy race.


Barry Cowles: Retired International Sales Manager For European Rigid PVC Manufacturer/Importer. US Army Vietnam Veteran; Crew Chief/Gunner on UH-1B 1965-66; Resident of Hebron for 39 Years; Married 44 years; Harley-Davidson rider.
Wayne Dow: Retired from the Government Accountability Office. Served a tour in the Air Force as a Missile Officer. Joined the museum in 2008, working on the Nike and F-104 restorations.  Has been flying and working on airplanes off and on for over 50 years. Has lived in Granby, CT since 2003.
Joe Kellog: Was in the U.S. Air Force 1951-56 as an A&E mechanic. Went to work for AT&T. Volunteered at NEAM after retirement. Worked on B-29, A-26C and P-51D projects.
Ed Patapas: Retired Project Engineer at Pratt & Whitney. Served in U.S. Navy aboard USS Missouri and USS Fletcher. Earned private pilots license while attending Mountain State University. Spent seven years on A-26C restoration project.
Al Steinmetz: Joined the U.S. Air Force in 1958 after High School. Worked in various aircraft maintenance fields for 38 years. Retired from the Air Force and Dept of Defense. in August 1995. In January 2009, became a NEAM volunteer working on the A-26C restoration project.
Silas W. Smith: Entered service in the U.S. Air Force July 1952-1972. After Air Force attended college AIC Springfield, BBA & MBA. After college worked for Department of Defense in Northeast as a Quality Assurance Inspector and Contracting Officer, 1994 retired from DOD. In 2010 volunteered at NEAM working on various restoration projects.
Bob Upson: Has had a lifelong interest in aviation, even managing to get a pilot's license in the early seventies. Most of his aviation experience comes from building an airplane, which he is still currently flying. Retired as a machine designer from Ensign Bickford.
Rick Centore: Retired electrician and was an avionics technician in the U.S. Marine Corps. After leaving the Corps, he was employed by the Kaman Corporation as an aircraft electrician. Joined the NEAM in 2009 and spent three years on the restoration of the A-26C.
Pete McConnell: Retired Senior Instrumentation Engineer employed by Pratt & Whitney. Worked on the Freedom Schooner "Amistad" at Mystic Seaport for several years before joining NEAM in 2006. Crew Chief on the P-51D project.
Tom Palshaw: Became interested in airplanes at age five and worked on NEAM airplanes at 14 as a CAP Cadet. He was an U.S. Army aviation mechanic in Germany. He retired from Canadair/Bombardier after 31 years. He is a commercial pilot with ratings in singles, twins, floats, and helicopters. He enjoys retirement by working with the other volunteers at NEAM.
Bob Grzech: From Dickson City PA, in the heart of anthracite coal country.  Had no desire to join his family as a coal miner and moved to Connecticut after HS Graduation. Worked at Automatic Signal Company and later at Southern New England Telephone Co. where he worked for 37 1/2 years, and retiring as a transmission analyst.  Has volunteered at NEAM for nearly 14 years, working on the Ercoupe Simulator, the Air Cam, and the A-26C. Now spends time between the P-51 Racer, & the A-26C gun mounts.
Lou Rell: Was a U.S. Navy pilot stationed aboard the aircraft carriers USS Forrestal, Saratoga and America. He retired from commercial service with Trans World Airlines and became an active member and president of the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company. Joined NEAM 2009 as a restoration volunteer and worked on several restoration projects before joining the P-51D team. He was the husband of former Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell. Lou passed away March 20, 2014.

P-51D Restoration Background


P-51D Restoration Diaries

- 2013 -
January | February | March | April | May | June | July
August | September | October | November | December

- 2014 -
January | February | March | April | May | June