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Retired businessman donates model PT-19 to Hagerstown museum

December 20, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

Jack Garrott, a retired Hagerstown businessman and architect, was the honored guest Wednesday night at Discovery Station's holiday gathering.

Current and former politicians, local businessmen and others crowded into the Hagerstown Aviation Museum's ground-level room at Discovery Station at Hagerstown to watch Garrott unveil his handmade Fairchild PT-19 flying model airplane.

"It's a wonderful addition to our museum, and its history is really strongly linked to Hagerstown," said B. Marie Byers, president of Discovery Station.

Garrott spent hundreds of hours over four years building the model. It is a 1/4-scale exact replica of the Fairchild-built plane that was used to train Army combat pilots during World War II.

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About 6,000 PT-19s were built for the Army in the early 1940s. More than 5,000 of those were built in Hagerstown, said Kurtis Meyers, president of the Hagerstown Aviation Museum.

"It was one of only a few planes that cadets used in learning to become combat pilots," Meyers said of the plane that affectionately was nicknamed the "Cradle of Heroes."

Garrott flew the PT-19 in World War II.

He said Wednesday that he always has been fascinated by planes and has built other models.

After building the remote-controlled PT-19 model at his summer home in Florida and flying it once, he decided to donate it to the museum.

"They do a really nice thing here, and it's a plane that was built by a company that at one time had a big impact on this community," Garrott said.

Many of the attendees at Wednesday's event said the same thing about Garrott.

"He is one of the quiet pillars in this community," said Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington. "He does a lot and gives a lot, but not in a way that makes people aware of what he's doing."

Garrott perhaps is best known for his efforts to keep The Maryland Theatre alive in the 1970s. He was part of a group that fought against its destruction after it was damaged by a fire in 1974.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, who also was at Discovery Station on Wednesday, said Garrott has championed several causes that have "made Hagerstown a better place."

"He's been a real force for good in this community," Munson said.

The PT-19 now is on permanent display. Although it belongs to Discovery Station, it is being displayed in the Hagerstown Aviation Museum's showroom.

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