Time, Money, and Historic Research Needed for WWI Airplane Restoration.

August 29, 2013 Updated Aug 29, 2013 at 10:14 AM EDT

By Ed Reilly

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August 29, 2013 Updated Aug 29, 2013 at 10:14 AM EDT

Wheatfield, N.Y. (WKBW) In mid-July, the Niagara Aerospace Museum helped remove a biplane from the Rich Renaissance Center in Buffalo where it had hung on display for nearly three decades.

Many people thought it was a version of the WWI-era Curtiss Jenny - a famous plane that was built locally.

But it turns out that it is not.

"Even I was fooled and I thought it was a Jenny," laughed Nelson Faso from the Niagara Frontier Vintage Aircraft Group.

After being examined by the Aerospace Museum, it has been determined that the old plane was actually a J-1 trainer originally built for WWI pilots by the Standard Aircraft Corporation in New Jersey.

The J-1 trainers had a terrible reputation for flying.

Research shows that the US Army Air Corps cancelled a contract to buy 2,600 of the planes, opting instead to buy the Curtiss JN-4's (Jenny's) being manufactured in Buffalo.

The plane is now at the Niagara Aerospace Museum restoration area in Wheatfield.

While it does carry a Curtiss engine, the engine mounts are not original and look to be fabricated from common hardware store materials.

Inspection of the plane shows that the wings and tail pieces seem to be authentic but much of the plane's fuselage contains non-standard parts such as motorcycle wheels, exhaust vents from home air conditioning systems, no instruments, and common plywood substituting for a radiator and seats

The plane is owned by the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society.

Niagara Aerospace Museum officials said they are in contact with the society to determine the airplane's future.

The Aerospace Museum would like to eventually restore the old plane and put it on display, but museum officials admit that it could take years and a lot of historic research to figure out how to return the aviation antique to a more authentic look.