Jack Spanich


Skyraider Warbirds

Story and photos
Harry S. Gann

Anyone who has even passing knowledge about Skyraiders that have found their way into the civilian sector will recognize the name, "Spanich." Jack Spanich was one of the first collectors to acquire Douglas Skyraiders and to fly them as civilian registered Warbirds. The following material was contributed by Harry S. Gann, long time aviation historian and author, and an acknowledged expert on the history of the Douglas Skyraider.

 Jack Spanich used to live in Southern California in the 1960s and early 1970s and he owned a Goodyear FG Corsair. However, he always wanted to get a Spad. After he moved to the Detroit area, he had an opportunity to bid on the French AD.

He only wanted one but the minimum bid was for 10 aircraft so he bid on a lot of 10 aircraft and his offer was accepted. He prepared 5 for delivery back to the States and stored the remaining 5 overseas. The French then wanted to buy them back and Jack resold the remaining 5 back to the French. Back in the States, Jack put 4 of the Spads up for sale. Kal Aero bought one and used it on a contract to tow targets.

Jack's first aircraft that he used to attend various shows was marked with VA-35/USS Saratoga colors. After a landing accident [AD-4NA 126882], Jack chose a second aircraft to fly and this was restored with USAF/TC970 markings [AD-4NA 126970]. This was the Spad in which he had his fatal accident.

The news story below appeared in the Detroit News on Tuesday, Nov 6, 1984


 Jack Spanich in TC970 - AD-4NA 126970

French Skyraiders bought by Jack Spanich

 Model  BuNo  N number  Current Operator
 AD-4N  124156  N91935  Wiley Sanders
 AD-4NA  126882  N91945  Summerfield Aviation
 AD-4NA  126970  N91954  Crashed 4 Nov 84
 AD-4NA  126997  N92053 (N409Z)  Cinema Air
 AD-4NA  127888  N92034  Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum

Va. plane crash kills Livonia pair

A Livonia businessman and his wife were killed in the flaming wreckage of his vintage World War II military plane after a Virginia air show. Jack N. Spanich and his wife, Mary Ann displayed the Douglas Skyraider at an air show in Virginia Saturday and crashed in the Shenandoah, National Park on their way home Sunday, according to Karen Wade, of the park staff. Spanich's two-seater attack bomber was one of the last of the propeller-driven AD-4NA aircraft produced for Navy carrier warfare in World War II, associates

"But it was an absolutely sound plane," said Nancy Lockwood, treasurer of the Yankee Air Force Museum and club based at Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti. "He flew it to air shows just about every weekend this summer." Spanich was president of Spanich Bonding Co., a Livonia. welding firm. He was a director of the Yankee Air Force Museum and was recently elected to take office as vice president in January according to Frank Modlinski, a director of the club, which has nine World War II planes in the museum and a membership of about 1,900 pilots and buffs.

Friends said the Spanichs who have four children, took a commercial flight Friday to Pennsylvania, where his antique plane was grounded two weeks ago because of bad weather.

"WE HEARD they were at an air show in Virginia and started to return on Sunday", Modlinski said. The crash occurred about 15 minutes after takeoff. The plane took off from Williamsburg Airport and went down about 10 am. Sunday when hikers, and a nearby landowner saw a low flying plane and then hard
a crash. said Ms. Wade. Searchers, hampered by rain and fog, could not find the burning wreckage until about 5:45 pm, she said.

From News staff and wire service reports.

Jack Spanich in AD-4NA 126882

Jack Spanich "over the numbers" in AD-4NA 126970.


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