Great sunny weather on this utmost important day as SNAFU Special is about to recover its wings, turning into a real plane once again. Both wings arrived the previous evening and were carefully laid by the plane. Just like for any important phase of the build up, beside SNAFU Team hard core members, the benevolents showed up in great numbers, each and every one of theme having taken days off from work to be here. Olivier Cornet, a local farmer who brought considerable help to the fixing of the engines with his "Manitou tractor" is here as well. His task is this time a bit more complicated as he must position with the finest precision an eleven meters wing onto the fuselage. But first of all, the 2 by 3 meters chunk of wing broken down in Bosnia for transport purposes must be assembled. A first group of people hold the piece while the others make the adjustment ; once the two parts fit, some screws hold the wing together.
The right wing is ready first. It must be carefully hooked onto the fuselage. The balance point must be found in order to allow Olivier Cornet to lift it and place it at the very right spot. Many attempts are necessary, all led with the greatest precautions as everyone realizes the amount of pressure applied on a fragile piece of wing. As usual, one does with whatever means available and the pressure is relieved thanks to the use of wooden blocks found on the surroundings fields. Finally, the wing is lifted in a balanced way, a harness on each side helps keeping it horizontal.
Jean Pierre, Gérard and Michel climb on the fuselage, tools in hands, ready to lock the wing in place as soon as it is adjusted.
Underneath the wing, Jean Pierre and Patrick Dagorn are in charge of connecting the electric wires and to stick the aluminium joint. Wih the wing up on his elevator, Olivier Cornet slowly backs up and position the tip in front of the fuselage. Once there, he makes the requested adjustments inch by inch and according to the informations given. The men on the ground make the proper corrections using the harnesses. From up on the fuselage come the latest news; "Electrical connections secured. Joint secured. Move back half an inch, lower the wing tip a bit...." The two main bolts must be well adjusted, before tightening the next 380 that will keep the wing definitely in place. "Watch out with your fingers" warns Olivier, afraid one benevolent might give SNAFU a little more than expected..."Freeze" hollers someone on top... one, two, three, twenty bolts.... the wing is set and harnesses can be removed. Underneath and on top, everyone gets busy with securing the wing as good as it used to be.
In the mean time, the left wing is ready to be positioned. The first bolts are already screwed in. Everything seems to run smoothly until someone asks Olivier to lift it up one inch more to secure the side of the wing. A loud cracks echoes and the aluminium skin tears along a 15 cm breach right next to the lights. Amidst the general disappointment, Jean Pierre climbs up and gives us a reassuring verdict. A simple piece of aluminium will do and the breach will not show behind the light. The last bolts are screwed on and the Team backs up and admires the result.
As many pictures taken on that day will show, as per may 20th 2008, the Douglas 43-15073 is no longer a wingless plane...