Walter’s Airplanes

Persistence yields rewards.

Some time ago, an opportunity arose for me to survey the private assemblage of aircraft belonging to the late Walter Soplata. Once employed at a scrapyard tasked with dismantling numerous planes post-World Wars and the early Cold War, Soplata, disheartened by the routine scrapping of rare airplanes, procured land east of Cleveland in 1947. From that point onward, he devoted the remainder of his life to amassing aircraft and their engines, commencing with a late-1920s American Eagle biplane. Successively, he acquired a Vultee BT-15 trainer, a Vought/Goodyear GF-1D Corsair, and a G2G Corsair featuring an experimental R-4360 engine.

Typically, each aircraft was acquired for a mere few hundred dollars, equivalent to the scrap value of the immobilized unit. Numerous airplanes from his collection have since found homes in aviation museums across the United States, such as the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Florida, the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland, and the New England Air Museum in Connecticut.

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