The Mid Florida EAA Chapter 534 recently made their yearly visit to JKE Works in Mount Dora to observe the progress of a remarkable project: the restoration of a 1929 Lockheed Vega 5C. JKE Works, a family-run business specializing in aircraft restorations, has earned a reputation for bringing vintage aircraft back to their original glory. The company’s expertise dates back to the 1960s, founded by Jim Kimball and now led by his son Kevin and grandson Kalin. Over the years, they’ve restored a variety of aircraft, including the Staggerwing Beech, Stearman, Gee Bee Z, and Travelair.

The ongoing project, a 1929 Lockheed Vega, holds significant historical value and is owned by Kermit Weeks. Previously displayed at the Fantasy of Flight Museum in Polk City, the Vega is undergoing a meticulous restoration to return it to flying status, adhering strictly to its original 1929 Lockheed plans. This adherence ensures the aircraft remains certified and avoids any unnecessary delays that seeking Federal Aviation Administration approval for deviations might cause.

Restoring such a vintage aircraft is no small feat. It often requires recreating tooling and parts that have long since ceased production. One challenging aspect was sourcing the Sitka Spruce plywood for the wing skins—a task that led Kevin Kimball to Alaska in search of the rare wood. After securing the necessary trees, the wood was shipped to the mainland for precision cutting to meet the unique specifications of the original plans. This endeavor was both time-consuming and costly but essential for authenticity.

Metal parts from the original aircraft were salvaged wherever possible, and modern adhesives replaced the outdated Casein glues used in the 1920s. The team’s commitment to authenticity extends to the minutest details, ensuring that the wood grains and finishes precisely match those of the original construction.

The Lockheed Vega is a plane steeped in history, made famous by aviators like Wiley Post and Amelia Earhart in the 1930s. Although this particular Vega started as a model 5C, it is being reborn as an Executive Model 5A, embodying the luxury a businessman of the 1920s might have enjoyed, complete with a desk and a specific Smith-Corona typewriter listed in the original parts inventory.

With the wings and tail feathers already reconstructed according to the original plans, the project is nearing another milestone. The fuselage’s restoration is well underway, with one side already in place and the other awaiting final adjustments before it can be completed. This project not only showcases the dedication and skill of the JKE Works team but also highlights the passion and commitment within the aviation restoration community to preserving the legacy of historic aircraft.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *