Burnelli CBY-3 “Loadmaster”


“With few exceptions, aircraft were not designed to last for 75 years and this month – July 2020 - marks the 75th anniversary of our CBY-3. It has had a hard life and it is amazing that it has survived at all. It once had a belly landing, it had been abandoned in Maryland where it was stripped of its engines and many parts, it survived the 1979 tornado and had been stored outdoors for 40 northeastern winters. All of this took its toll on the aircraft...Slowly but surely we have brought the CBY-3 back to display condition and we are within sight of completing the restoration.”

- Harry Newman, Burnelli Restoration Crew Chief

NEAM’s Burnelli CBY-3 “Loadmaster,” nearing the end of its extensive restoration, is a unique aircraft. Built in 1945, it is the last of the lifting wing aircraft, designed by Vincent Burnelli. The fuselage of the aircraft is in the shape of an airfoil, which provided additional lift to the wings. Although Burnelli’s design allowed it to lift heavy payloads, it was never put into production. NEAM’s Burnelli is the only surviving example of this design and the only CBY-3.

The Burnelli came to the museum in 1973, driven on a truck from Maryland where it had been left abandoned. The aircraft had extensive damage, and had been stripped of its engines, mounts, and cowls. The aircraft was awaiting restoration at the museum when the tornado of 1979 ripped through the outdoor display. Although the CBY-3 was spared destruction, it did have outer skin damage from the experience.

Major restoration began on the Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster in 2014 under the direction of Crew Chief Harry Newman. "These old airplanes throw surprises at you all the time," says Newman. "Expect surprises and you won't be disappointed." The crew did just that. With a core crew of around eighteen volunteers and a full crew of close to forty, the Burnelli has seen around 50,000 hours of volunteer labor. Nearing the end of its restoration, the Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster is now on display in the museum's Civil Aviation Hangar.


 

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