Norseman Warbird Restorations USA

Above photo – Vultee BT-13 Valiant in foreground. February 15, 2023.

As a follow on to the last blogpost, we will look at a couple of the restorations presently occurring in the USA. There certainly is no shortage of Norseman rebuilds going on and first up is Noorduyn serial 163 at Boulder, Colorado.

This UC-64A model was delivered to the USAAF as 43-5172 in July 1943 and after the end of WW II went onto the US civil aircraft register in mid 1946 as N61853, the same registration it carries to this day. After a time in Minnesota it went north to Wien Air Alaska in 1951, then eleven years later it was purchased by Parachutes Incorporated and modified for use as a skydiving jump ship. In need of a major overhaul, N61853 sat idle from 1980 to 1984 and was in poor shape when sold at auction in October 1984 to Wanda and Glen Courtwright.

Over a few years they restored the Norseman to its military configuration and painted it in the totem insignia of the Alaska Rescue Unit of Air Transport Command.

In 2006, J W Duff Aircraft acquired the airplane and in April of 2014 ownership was transferred to its present owner, Dave Elliott who intended to fly the Norseman but unfortunately or perhaps fortunately some barely visible cracks were discovered in a wooden wing spar. Fast forward to 2023 and two sets of brand new wings are being created to get this Norseman back in the air! Interestingly, 853 might take up skydivers again and provide flight seeing along the front range in Colorado.


Next up is another UC-64A with Noorduyn serial 139, USAAF serial 43-5148 in Yanks Air Museum located at the Chino airport, California. Immediately transferred via Lend-Lease to Canada this Norseman became a standard RCAF Mk VI model, serial 790. Although it was never actually operated by the USAAC or USAAF, Yanks will likely finish it in markings as 43-5148.



Not surprisingly, the revived flight instrument panel of serial 139 looks very similar to serial 163. Norseman production was ramping up fast for the war effort and only a few weeks separated their delivery dates.

The following history is repeated from a previous post on December 10, 2021;

After serving as RCAF 790, it went to Georgian Bay Airways of Parry Sound, Ontario in August of 1955 becoming CF-IJG on the Canadian Civil Register. Unfortunately, the aircraft sank on July 18, 1966 after a hard glassy water landing on Antiguois Lake, Quebec. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

Apparently in the 1970’s, Lloyd Street bought the Norseman “as is” from the insurance company, made temporary repairs with the assistance of Gordon Hughes and ferried the aircraft out from the lake. For many years it languished on a farm near Gravenhurst, Ontario until being moved to the FAA registry for Yanks in the summer of 2010, now N420QN.

Excellent craftsmanship is apparent in this ongoing restoration. Photo taken on February 28, 2023.

There is no definitive timeline for the completion of this project but in due course we should see yet another Norseman up and flying. As of this March 2023 there are eleven active airworthy Norseman in the world and the status is changing with increasing interest in warbird reincarnations. Even though they usually only fly during the warmer times of the year, the many exciting developments going on will probably increase the future chances for a Norseman enthusiast to go for a flight in one!