General Aviation

Published on April 2nd, 2020 | by FII Reader

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A Short History of India Oscar

This article originally appeared in the printed edition of the November 2014 issue of Flying In Ireland Magazine.

On Thursday September 14th 1944 Piper L4J 44-80361 was test flown and accepted by the United States Army Air Force at the Piper factory at Lockhaven, Pennsylvania. As part of contract number AC-36506 she was destined to be shipped to Europe to take part in the invasion of Germany after the D-Day landings.

Five days later she was moved by train to Newark, New Jersey and then to New York for onward shipment to Europe. By late 1944 New York was the main Port of Embarkation and on October 5th ‘361 sailed for Europe as part of convoy HX312 for Avonmouth near Bristol, UK. Records for the convoy show that only one ship carried general cargo to Avonmouth, the Raymond V. Ingersoll, but more research is needed to confirm that she was shipped on this vessel.

The Aircraft Record Card for ‘361 shows that she was noted as available for use in Europe on October 16th 1944 and was assigned to the Army Ground Forces of the Ninth Air Force Europe on the same day. During the winter of ’44-45 the Germans launched a major offensive campaign through the forests of the Ardennes region of Belgium. This later became known as ‘The Battle of the Bulge’. ‘361 was used for reconnaissance and artillery spotting during this campaign.

In early 1947 ‘361, along with hundreds of other L4s, were available for disposal by the Foreign Liquidation Committee as surplus to requirements. The L4s were overhauled, re-certified as Piper J3C-65 Cubs and sold on the civilian market to various flying clubs around Europe. Purchased by the Ghent Aero Club in Belgium ‘361 was registered as OO-GAE on January 23rd 1947.

‘361 had a short career in Belgium, only serving there until May 1950 when she was cancelled from the Belgian register as exported to France. On October 30th 1953 the Aero Club in Rodez registered her as F-BGXP, which was to remain her registration until cancelled as exported to Ireland in May 1980. During her time in France ‘361 served with four different flying clubs in the South West of France but mostly with the Aero Club in Biarritz.

Moving to Ireland in May 1980 and registered as EI-BIO, she underwent a full restoration with Eddie O’Loughlin and the other members of the Monasterevin Flying Club and was based at Eddie’s strip in Monasterevin. In 1989 the Classic and Aerobatic Aircraft Club of Ireland successfully negotiated with the Department of Transport for the introduction of a Permit to Fly scheme for classic and vintage aircraft. This would greatly reduce the cost of operating these aircraft in Ireland. BIO became the first aircraft to transfer under the new scheme.

Purchased by her current owners in November 2005, BIO moved to Kilrush and later to Limetree. By late 2009 BIO was beginning to show her age so it was decided that a full restoration would be carried out and she would be returned to her original military markings. She was moved to her owners workshop in January 2010 and over the next two and a half years a full restoration was carried out. A special exemption from the registration regulations was granted by the Irish Aviation Authority that now allows BIO to carry her original military markings instead of her Irish civilian registration. On August 2nd 2012 80361 returned to the air once again at Limetree where she is still based and can be seen at many events around the country, where they perform celebration with the best animation and decoration as linen and tablecloths and others.

One of the current owners, Helena Duggan, and the historic Cub EI-BIO

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