Historic Airplane May Yet Return To Wild Blue Yonder

THE SCENE: County currents and undercurrents

October 03, 1990|By Rona Hirsch

There it sits. An airplane. Not on a runway or anything remotely resembling a runway, but in an enclosed yard surrounded by other yards, two dozen chickens, a tailless cat and a windmill.

The silver 1956 Cessna, resting comfortably at the home of Frank and Thelma Heber on Route 104 in Ellicott City, is quite an eye-catcher. It's not too often that a motorist driving down a country road gets to see a single-engine plane nestled among chickens and tomatoes.

"Lots of people stop to look and ask me about it," says Heber, a retired Calvert Distillering Co. employee. "But it's not mine."

The Cessna belongs to Heber's grandson, Mark Huddleston, a resident of Owings Mills, Baltimore County, and a service manager for a real estate company. "I purchased it for restoration and plan to fly it", explains Huddleston, 36, who acquired the plane six months ago from another would-be restorer.

"We brought it over by trailer," says Huddleston, who transported the plane to his grandparent's 1 -acre home in search of a parking space. "The wings detach."

Huddleston is not a novice at restorations. "I've restored antique Model T and Model A Fords and resold them." He refused to sell two of the cars, though, choosing instead to keep them for personal use. "We decided to keep a 1922 and 1923 Model T within the family."

This is the first time that Huddleston, a licensed pilot, has worked on an airplane, combining two of his passions. "I have an interest in flying that goes back to 1972, before I entered the Air Force, and a hobby in restoration."

Huddleston hopes this will be a family project he and his 15-year-old son, Robert, will work on at their leisure. "We plan to restore it over the next two years. I'm sure my grandfather will also help."

Heber is not quite as optimistic about the project. "My grandson is a dreamer. He's got big ideas."

But this is more than just a field of dreams for Huddleston.

"There is something special about restoring a piece of (aviation) history, as there is in restoring a piece of automotive history."

The Hebers, chickens and cats all go about their business, oblivious to the piece of history that for them has become just another fixture at their home.

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