The American Heritage Museum in Stow, Massachusetts is honored to announce that America’s oldest, original, and airworthy combat aircraft has returned to the sky. On Saturday, April 2nd, 2022, the museum’s 1918 Nieuport 28 took to sky in southern Sweden with World War I aircraft restoration expert, Mikael Carlson, at the controls. There are 5 original Nieuport 28s in existence today, making this accomplishment especially significant.
The Nieuport 28 was the first combat aircraft provided to U.S. airmen in World War I. The 27th, 94th, 95th, and 147th aero squadrons of the American Expeditionary Forces operated the type, with pilots like Captain Eddie Rickenbacker and Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt amidst their ranks. With 2022 being the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force, the return of an original Nieuport to the sky is most appropriate. It is literally America’s first combat fighter aircraft.
The American Heritage Museum’s Nieuport was constructed in Paris during the fall of 1918 and was imported to the United States after the war for use by the nascent Army Air Service. It was later sold on the civilian market and starred in numerous early aviation films, including “Hells Angels” and both versions of “Dawn Patrol.” It subsequently entered a private collection for 50 years.
Understanding the incredible significance and rarity of the aircraft, American Heritage Museum executive Director Rob Collings knew there was one person with the requisite skills and experience to restore the Nieuport to the level of authenticity and enduring quality required for long-term preservation: Mikael Carlson. Known world-wide for his restoration and operational experience with types like the Bleriot, Fokker Dr1, Fokker DVII, Pfalz VIII, and FVM Ö1 Tummelisa, Mikael’s understanding of vintage aircraft, their powerplants, and period construction methods is second to none. He also stands as one of the leading experts familiar with the unique intricacies involved with flying early aircraft.
The Nieuport 28 will return to the United States later this year and go on display at the American Heritage Museum in Stow, MA, where it will be available for public viewing and limited public flight exhibitions.