August 28, 2014
By Dave Hirschman
This Supermarine Spitfire actually flew in the Battle of Britain. Edwards received the aircraft as payment for his participation for flying in the 1969 movie Battle of Britain. Photography by Mike Fizer.
This Supermarine Spitfire actually flew in the Battle of Britain. Edwards received the aircraft as payment for his participation for flying in the 1969 movie Battle of Britain.
This North American P-51 was payment for Connie's flying for the Nicaraguan government in their Civil War.
This rare two-seat Messerschmitt Bf-109 was taken as payment for Connie's involvement in the 1969 movie Battle of Britain.
Shown are Edwards' seven single-seat Messerschmitt Bf-109s, six with the wings removed, taken as payment for Connie's involvement in the 1969 movie Battle of Britain.
Shown is Edwards' single-seat Messerschmitt Bf-109, taken as payment for Connie's involvement in the 1969 movie Battle of Britain.
Shown are Edwards' collection of various rare engines, wings, and other warbird parts and P-51 Mustang canopies.
Shown are Edwards' collection of various rare engines, wings, and other warbird parts.
Shown is Edwards with his rare two seat Me-109.
The rare fighters from the 1969 Battle of Britain movie have been sold to restorers in the United States and Europe, according to the agent handling the sale.
Wilson Connell “Connie” Edwards, the irascible 80-year-old pilot who coordinated the movie stunts and took the airplanes as payment, has stored most of them in a dusty, west Texas hangar for more than 40 years.
“All of the airplanes have been sold, and they will be gone by the end of the year,” said Simon Brown of Platinum Fighters, which handled the sale. “We had multiple full-price offers for each airplane. They are going to three different buyers who plan to restore them to top flying condition.”
An original Mark IX Spitfire that actually flew in the real Battle of Britain is the jewel of the fleet and will return to England. Six Buchons (Bf-109s built under license in Spain) will go to a collector in Europe. And an original P-51 Mustang (that didn’t appear in the movie) will be restored at a U.S. restoration shop. Brown declined to identify the buyers.
“These are barn finds—the last unrestored aircraft of their kind in the world,” Brown said. “They went for about 20 percent more than flyable aircraft because they are so completely original.”
Edwards and his many and varied aircraft were featured in the August issue of AOPA Pilot magazine (A tall tale that’s true). Edwards had intended to give the movie airplanes to his son, Wilson Connell “Tex” Edwards, but the younger man was killed in a traffic accident about one year ago.
Edwards made a fortune in the oil, ranching, and stone business and kept his aircraft on a private strip at his Big Spring home. He has more than a dozen other rare aircraft including a Grumman Albatross, Mallard, and two Consolidated PBYs that weren’t included in the sale.
Edwards unapologetically set high prices totaling more than $15 million for the Battle of Britain airplanes and absolutely refused to negotiate. Brown said the tactic worked.
“Connie got his price,” Brown said. “In fact, he got a little more than he was asking. The Buchons were sold in 24 hours, and the rest were under contract within four weeks.”
Warbirds to depart Edwards Ranch
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
Movies and Television,
Hang around aircraft restorers and you’ll inevitably hear tales of priceless historical relics hidden in barns, buried in shrink wrap, or otherwise stuck in time awaiting discovery.
As the cold weather chills AOPA’s Headquarters in Frederick, many of us are inside generating new resources for flying clubs.
In my house, every Friday night is “Movie Night.” While the movies are rarely educational (I don’t think I learned anything from the Lego Movie), we look forward to the weekly opportunity to spend time together. Why not use the same concept for your Flying Club (with the addition of education, of course)?
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