Messerschmitt Bf 109s: Keep Them Flying!

Fighter Plane

Yes it is true, “Bigger in Texas” is the way it is, or was, for the number of warbirds one man owned. Wilson Connell “Connie” Edwards earned his private pilot certificate in 1951. He has approximately 20,000 hours of flight time under his belt. In 1968/69 he worked for United Artists as Chief Stunt Pilot for the “Battle of Britain” film. Other film work of his includes flying the “TBM” in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and Bermuda Triangle. The story goes: United Artists (UA) owed “Connie” at the end of shooting of the “Battle of Britain” a sum of money and UA wanted to give him an IOU. Mr. Edwards has said “do not take an IOU from a film company, you always get stung”. He told them (UA) he would take airplanes for payment, which he did, 16 Messerschmitts to be exact. Being a man of means, he had them dis-assembled and shipped to his Texas ranch. Jesse found this incredible story and wanted the world to see! Thanks Jesse for sharing this interesting find.

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Edwards has owned or flown an impressive array of warbird aircraft, including the B-17, B-24, B-25, B-26, AT-11, JU-52, C-46, C-47, C-54, Spitfire, Mosquito, P-38, P-40, P-51, P-63, F4U-4, FM-2, F-6, F-7, TBM, AT-6, F-104, F-18, Albatross, PBY, and Sunderland Flying Boats.  Mr. Edwards’ family land holdings in Texas happen to contain mineral resources that have allowed him, and I believe his business sense, to amass great wealth.

Once in the ’70s a fly-in guest to the Edwards ranch came to quail hunt. This guest, the founder of Wal-Mart Sam Walton, became friends with Mr. Edwards. He invested in Walmart in the early days and the rest is history. Edwards’ over 100,000 square foot and expanding hangar complex is where this group of warbirds and collector cars were stored. He says that he is not a collector, but that they have collected him. This is not a museum and isn’t open to the public. Mr. Edwards isn’t interested in hearing other pilots war stories. He is not in the airplane business, he is in oil, ranching and stone businesses. The airplanes are merely for fun.

Mr. Edwards is in his 80s now has said that you have to pay “his price” if you were interested in one or more of his holdings. He has said that if a person is willing to pay “his price” they will probably have enough in reserve to restore them. Boats and airplanes are much bigger black holes then most barn find cars, which goes without saying. Speaking of which, in the complex there was also a ’64 Corvette, ’58 Cadillac El Dorado Brougham, VW Thing, police Harley-Davidson and some mini-bikes, no images of these are available.

In 2013 Mr. Edwards’ son Wilson Connell “Tex” Edwards Jr. died in an automobile accident. Edwards Sr. was going to will all the warbirds to his son. Since his son’s death, Edwards decided to clean house. The collection of warbirds was sold in August of 2014 after sitting in West Texas for over 40 years for approximately $17M to a European dealer. The buyer plans to restore several of them for himself and others may be sold. Keep the Warbirds Flying! You can see more photos and information about Mr. Edwards and his planes here on AOPA.org!

Cheers,
Robert

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Comments

  1. Steve Link

    During the late 80’s, when the Breckenridge TX Airshow was still going on, I was lucky enough to hop a ride in Connie’s PBY down to his ranch/castle, which is HUGE!!!!! While there, he gave us the BIG tour which included most of his hangars. Tex, his son, was our driver in a halftrack to the different spots. At the time he had at least 4 of the box stock unrestored Dominican P-51’s, even still had the WWII radios behind the pilot! There were several of the Buchon’s there also that this article is about. One hangar must have had around 40 RR Merlins in it in crates and on pallets. It was one of my favorite warbird flights for sure….almost as much fun as my flights in different P-51’s!!!! I am at work or I would post some images….maybe later.

    Like 1
  2. Quinton B.

    How much.. I’d keep one flying!

  3. Steve Link

    I think the Spanish Buchon single seaters sold for around $250k each with the dual control one(very rare) going for a bit more, the Spit went for about $1.5m as did the P-51D IIRC. Connie made a smart investment….he’s also led quite a life.

    Like 2
  4. Steve Link

    On September 21, 2014, Hispano Buchon (HA-1112-M1L), s/n 220, N4109G, was pulled out of its hangar on at Connie Edwards’ ranch for the first time since 1973.
    After a thorough servicing and pre-oiling of the engine, the Buchon’s Merlin engine fired up for the first time in 41 years
    Check out the YouTube video of the first engine run up and landing gear check.
    You can skip the fluff and go straight to the good part at 1:56:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmPw1GEpveU#t=109

  5. Joe Howell

    Wow!!!!!!! As a Warbird buff and pilot of puddle jumpers with all of one hour of stick time in a P-51 all I can is “Wow” again!

    Like 1
  6. Steve Link

    I went thru some of the old e-mails on this and had forgotten much of the details….
    Press report says the Buchons and Spitfire have been bought by a “European dealer” for almost £10 million.
    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/502635/Battle-of-Britain-fighters-fly-again-after-40-years-in-barn

    • CjA

      That is awesome!!!

      After 40yrs in his barn this 109 was just oiled up & it started! This video is from when they pulled it from his barn to fire up and test the landing gear.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GmPw1GEpveU

      I wonder if any of the P-51s or other American or Brit birds cranked so easily. Those germs knew how to build them

      Like 1
  7. Steve Link

    Some of the planes for the movie Battle of Britain….quite a gathering.

    Like 3
  8. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Steve L….damn…..sure loved those Breckenridge shows…..we usually” were camped out at the end of the “off” runway where the C130’s parked….great memories….glad some of his “good’s” are finding new home’s…..

    Like 1
    • Steve Link

      Yep, airshows at Breckenridge were the best. Kind of a get together for the pilots and crews to kick off the season. And the BBQ’s in the evenings with the low passes over the hangar…..loved it. We would get there on Wed and stay thru Sunday. That was where I got the most of the warbird rides in my life, one with 7 other P-51’s and one Sea Fury. What a ride that was. Had to dodge a storm to Eastland then run for Amarillo. Spent almost 2 hours in the back seat of Bob Burns “Rascal”. Loved every minute of it, esp playing follow the leader! The mission was to hook up with Michael O’Leary in Howard’s T-6 but it never happened. By far some of the best times of my life. I plan to fly my PT-23 there and visit the guys someday!

  9. Brad

    There’s something wrong with these photos — they look a LOT like CGI models, like you’d find in a video game. The pools of light under the wheel, the uniformity of the texture on the walls and garage doors… something is off here.

    Like 1
  10. Steve Link

    Brad, trust me they are not CGI….I have touched them. Those pix were taken by someone who could give the photos a certain effect. Here’s a link when they were for sale….
    Buchon’s: http://www.platinumfighters.com/#!ha-1112-m4l/cmor
    Spitfire: http://www.platinumfighters.com/#!spitfire-mh415/c12uh

  11. Steve Link

    Here’s one of Connie’s P-51D’s…..like I was saying earlier…..box stock time capsule.
    http://www.platinumfighters.com/#!p-51d-n38227/c132k

  12. Cj

    The 109 pictured looks like P-41 in Nazi livery. I guess I missed something there.

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