The Story of the FG-1D Corsair "Whistling Death"
N209TW was delivered to the US Navy as BuNO 92489. The exact MFR is unknown. 92489 was stored at NAS Litchfield, AZ until 1957. The government in El Salvador was building an air force and was buying airplanes from other nations. After the signing of the Rio Treaty in 1947, the El Salvador Air Force started receiving aircraft including F4U-5 and FG-1D Corsairs from the United States. 25 FG-1D Corsairs were sold to El Salvador in total in 1957. They stayed on active duty until 1976 with the Escuadrón de Caza and later by the Escuadrilla 2 of the Escuadrón Caza y Bombardeo out of Ilopango Airport. The serial numbers started with #1 as aircraft entered service. The Museum’s Serial # was FAS 209 being the 209 plane added.
Frank Arrufat was a 32 year old ex-Navy Pilot working with TWA. He had read an article in Trade a Plane about surplus Corsair’s being available in El Salvador. Frank wanted a restoration project and more importantly a Navy plane. Frank picked out the best plane of the lot, FAS 209, and included a laundry list of parts that were needed. he went back and forth from his home to El Salvador to get all the necessary parts.
Frank Arrufat out of Los Angeles, CA started purchasing the Corsair in 1972 and finished buying parts from El Salvador in 1974. Frank and his wife Kathleen, originally from El Paso, moved back to El Paso with their family and started restoring his Corsair and continued to do so for thirty years. Due to other obligations, after the original purchase of 4,000 for the Corsair, Frank wasn’t able to start working on the plane until 1983. Unknown circumstances arose but in 1990 Frank started storing the Corsair opposed to restoring it.
In 2000 Frank retired from TWA and after having already invested 6,500 hours into restoring the planes, was looking into ways of completing the restoration faster. In 2001 he hired John Lane of the American Airpower Museum to finish restoring the bird. John Lane would also restore the museum’s TBM-3E Avenger in Jerome, ID.
In 2009 with completion of the plane close, Frank was running out of funds and time, and eventually sold the Corsair to John O’Connors whose intention from the start was to bring it to EAA Airventure at Oshkosh, WI in 2010. The plane was finished as originally intended to resemble an F4U-1A or F4U-1D from the late years of 1943 – early years of 1944. The plane included the name Kathleen in honor of Frank’s wife and the N number of 209TW in honor of serial the plane had while in service in El Salvador and TW for Trans World Airlines in which Frank retired from after decades of service. The 489 on the side is the last three digits of the BuNo.
In 2010 after N209TW won Grand Champion World War II restoration at Oshkosh, O’Connor sold the Corsair to the Texas Flying Legends Museum. The plane was kept the same with exception of the names being removed from the cowlings.