Paul Murray's dreams have always been as high as the sky.
This week, Murray will chase another one.
Murray, a retired farmer, has restored a 1952 Piper Super Cub PA-18 to fly with fellow pilot Dr. Paul Barber to the International Experimental Aircraft Association convention which started Monday in Osh Kosh, Wis. The event is regarded by flying enthusiasts as the biggest and best aircraft convention in the world.
How Murray came by the Piper Cub is a story in itself. The 125-horsepower Cub was built in Lock Haven, Pa., and originally owned by the Civil Air Patrol at Spence Airfield in Moultrie, Ga. The plane was a war bird, originally assigned to sub-chasing duty. It next went to a broker in Pottsville, Pa., before Hilder Kruger of George bought it.
The Cub remained in the barn for 42 years until Murray's brother, Gene, heard it would be sold the next day.
"I just had to have a project," Murray said. He bought the plane from Steve Kruger of George who had inherited it from his father. Murray put his bid in a bag with a number of others and came out the winning bidder. Despite the fact that it had been stored for the vast majority of its life, Murray found the plane had only 1,900 hours on it.
Right away, Murray tore down the Cub for restoration in his garage at Lake Creek. Helping were his brother Bill, a dentist in Sioux Falls, S.D.; another brother, Gene, a priest in Marcus; and a third brother, Ed, also a priest, in Denison. Also helping were Barber and Murray's neighbor, Floyd Gustafson, who has himself restored several aircraft.
Murray undertook a five-year project, having the engine worked over at a shop in Webster City before reassembling the plane. Everything is original except the radio. Murray also carries a handheld GPS which acts as a compass and tracks his speed and position.
"It's been a real fun project," Murray said. "It's paid me more than I've paid it."
With a maximum cruising speed of 110, the Cub has a maneuvering speed of up to 94 and a flap speed of 80. At 1,070 dry weight, the plane can take a payload of about 450 pounds, or one pilot with a passenger and baggage. The plane can go six hours on a fill.
Murray still has the original data plate and air worthiness certificate which double the plane's value. Murray said the Cub, which originally sold for $43,000, would now bring $70,000 to $80,000.