Unique Lark of Duluth May Fly Again

Posted at: 04/25/2013 11:38 AM
Updated at: 04/25/2013 2:59 PM

The following is a transcript of the story about the effort to bring back the Lark of Duluth. The interviews are with the Project Manager for Lark of Duluth, Mark Marino, and Project Volunteer, Tom Betts.

Mark Marino, Project Manager, Lark of Duluth:

Yeah, I was building planes out of everything I could think of when I was a kid. I remember in third grade I made a plane out of corn cobs. I mean anything that I could fashion into something that resembled wings and tails. I was doing that as long as I can remember.

Mark: We're here at Hanger Ten at Sky Harbor Airport, one of the greatest little airports in Minnesota. One of the rarest because it has water runways, which is perfect for the project we're working on: the Lark of Duluth, flying boat. It has no wheels. We have to have water so Sky Harbor is one of five airports in the state that we could even operate.

Tom Betts, Project Volunteer: I've been helping to build a flying replica of the world's first commercial airliner, the Benoist Model 14. First flew off the bay here in July...July 12, 1913, and became the world's first commercial airliner. We'd like to fly it on the 100th anniversary, on July 12, 2013, right here on the bay in Duluth, just like they did back then.

It's quite a process. It's exciting to see this come together from two stacks of wood to what you see here.

Mark: What was interesting is that we had nothing to go on other than pictures written descriptions of the airplane. One was in the Duluth News Tribune that called the airplane "vivid green," so our green on the airplane is our interpretation of that description.

The fact that a Duluth airplane owned by two Duluth businessmen actually became officially the world's first airliner, we think is very significant to our city and that's why we're building this replica. It's an important piece of history. It gives us perspective on where we started in aviation.

We're trying to create a living piece of history that will be flown every year, for people to actually see what it might have been like 100 years ago. We don't want a static museum display, we want something that works.