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Rick Pellegrino- Taildragger Restorer and Pilot

Who hasn't dreamed of finding a P-51 in a barn and then taking the plane home? Such a discovery is the aviation equivalent of finding buried treasure. For Rick Pellegrino and partner, their version of this dream came true when they located three neglected Luscombes in Hilo, then brought them back to Honolulu for restoration.

If you are unfamiliar with the Luscombe, please allow me to make the introductions. Luscombes are small, aluminum taildraggers produced about a half century ago. Two people can fly side-by-side in this economical airplane.

There's more to the story, however. These delightful flying machines have long wings and alluring tail feathers. They have slender lines. Luscombes and P-51s have sticks, Cessnas and your mother's station wagon are controlled with wheels. The main gear supports the airframe the way a pair of lovely legs supports the most beautiful of ladies. Polish the aluminum, and the radiance of the plane's youth shines through. The whole process of rebuilding a tired Luscombe is similar to finding a movie starlet who once captured your heart, but she is in the most abused condition. You painstakingly clean her up, bring her back into athletic condition so those original lines display true once again, and watch as the radiance and fire of her youth reappear. Then the two of you fly off into the sunset together.

Perhaps now you can understand why there are people who restore Luscombes. The time required to remove corrosion and rebuild the airframe will never adequately be reflected in the dollar value of the finished product. The restoration work can honestly be called a labor of love.

Rick enjoys flying the one Luscombe which has been completed. The cockpit is clean and as original as possible. It even has these cool doors which can hide radio and transponder and return the panel to its original look. He is a man who smiles easily around the plane, and there should be little wonder why.