Restored WWll Hellcat plane coming to Beatrice, local veteran will sit in pilot seat

BEATRICE, NE — A 99-year-old southeast Nebraska man will get to sit in the pilot seat of the same model aircraft he flew in World War Two this weekend.

Evan Fagen is coordinating the flight of a restored F6F Hellcat airplane to the Beatrice Municipal Airport on Sunday. Fagen runs Fagen Fighters World War Two Museum in Granite Falls, Minnesota. He spent the last three years restoring the plane to look like the exact fighter flown by Don McPherson of Adams during the war.

McPherson, 99, will meet Fagen at the airport on Sunday to see the Hellcat land and get a chance to sit in the pilot seat. McPherson was designated as an ace pilot, meaning he shot down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat. He is believed to be one of two ace pilots remaining in Nebraska.

The Hellcat will touch down in Beatrice between 1:00-2:00 p.m. on Sunday. Fagen is flying in on his P51 Mustang shortly before the Hellcat.

Airport Manager Diana Smith says the public is welcome to come to the airport to watch the planes land or simply keep an eye on the sky in the early afternoon.