Javier Arango, a renowned authority on World War I aircraft, and aircraft collector, died in the crash of a replica biplane April 23 in Paso Robles, California, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office. He was 54.
Arango’s aircraft collection was highlighted in a March 2009 AOPA article about places where aviation devotees could have an opportunity to view and learn about aircraft of the World War I period.
It noted that Arango was an investment consultant and avid pilot in Los Angeles who had majored at Harvard in the history of science. Having concluded that knowledge of aircraft from World War I was limited, he decided “to obtain and fly a discriminating selection of these unique aircraft.”
The project, and his aircraft collection, began with the construction of a Fokker Dr.I Triplane in the late 1970s. The collection focused on “the differences between the three most successful lines of aircraft produced by the aviation war powers,” that included Fokker, Sopwith, and Nieuport.
He said a goal was “for the collection to obtain enough of the Fokker, Nieuport, and Sopwith models to complete a valid study of their evolution.”
The collection has come to consist of aircraft constructed from original references, or restored, by Antique Aero of Paso Robles. In some instances, modern materials were used to add strength to designs that were not originally created for long aircraft life, it said.