Freeport, IL--In 1972, a 1942 World War II Hurricane awoke from its almost 30-year sleep when it was pulled from a swamp in Gander, Newfoundland. The Canadian-built fighter plane used in test flights in Canada crashed while on coastal patrol in December 1943.
A few years ago, the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston, TX acquired the plane's remains. In 1993, Colorado-based company Q.G. Aviation of America Inc. decided to restore and rebuild the Hurricane. The company discovered a large switch on the plane's up-and-down lock indicators on the landing gear labeled, "MICRO SWITCH BZ-YR3 FREEPORT ILLINOIS."
Phil Kniskern, an application engineer at Micro Switch, says Honeywell's Micro Switch Div. (Freeport, IL) manufactured the switch, which was used to signal to the pilot that the landing gear was up or down. Q.G. Aviation sent the switch to Kniskern, who could find no catalog listing for it. He finally found the original manufacturing specification on microfiche.
Kniskern then turned the switch over to Steve Severson of Micro Switch's Mars Hill, NC office, who found that the switch was operational but did not exhibit intermittent dead-break.
"The contacts in the switch were erratic, but still functioning," Kniskern says, who attributes the switch's preservation to the cold temperatures of the swamp, which did not allow oxygen to oxidate the switch. "We've never opened the switch, because it was such a unique specimen."
Even though the switch is technically still functional, it could not be used in a plane today, so the company created a replacement basic switch for use in the rebuilt Hurricane, the BZ-3YT. The recovered BZ-YR3 from the 1940s is comparable to the environmentally shielded line of EN switches designed specifically for the aircraft industry that Honeywell makes today, Kniskern adds.
Q.G. Aviation of America's restoration and rebuilding of the plane continues to take place. The rebuilt-from-the-ground-up plane will fly again as one of four Hurricanes in the world still in the air, with Micro Switch BZ switches in place of the swamped one, in the 1999 air show in Oshkosh, WI.