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City's historic plane has seats refitted

23 April 2014

By Carolyn Steeves, Enquirer Journal

Though she does not look a day older than 69, Tinker Belle had some work done lately. 

The C-46 plane, built in 1944, recently had her seats refurbished by ORO Manufacturing, the same company that made them before 1941 when they were in Adrian, Mich. 

Patricia Engel, Vice President of ORO, looked under the seats while touring the plane and was very surprised to see the stamp that said it was made in Michigan. Though she does not look a day older than 69, Tinker Belle had some work done lately. 

The C-46 plane, built in 1944, recently had her seats refurbished by ORO Manufacturing, the same company that made them before 1941 when they were in Adrian, Mich. 

Patricia Engel, Vice President of ORO, looked under the seats while touring the plane and was very surprised to see the stamp that said it was made in Michigan. 

The company moved to Monroe in 1961, so to see Michigan was “quite a surprise,” Engel said. 

Monroe bought Tinker Belle a little more than three years ago, using taxes from hotel stays. She travels to eight or nine air shows a year all over the East Coast. 

At the air shows, people tour the plane and often strap themselves into the seats to experience what the soldiers felt. 

“When we do the shows, we let people come onto the plane and we let people sit on the seats,” Monroe Spokesman Pete Hovanec said. “If we don’t have the seats, people are just walking by and not getting a real feel for the history of the aircraft.”  

“We’re very grateful to (ORO), and they’re a great company, a great corporate partner,” Hovanec said. 

Engel said they did not have to remanufacture the metal parts of the seat, and the nylon fabric was pretty much the only thing deteriorating. The metal parts that were reinstalled are mostly the same metal parts from pre-1961, Engel said. 

“We’re very proud of what we do here at ORO, we’ve been manufacturing seats since the 1950s ... we’re very proud of that,” she said. “(It is) something that we take pride in, supporting the war fighter, both back then and now.” 

The original seats had a 210-day warranty. Hovanec said it was a testament to their durability that they have lasted so far beyond the warranty. 

Hovanec said it was great to have a local company step up and show their support and be a part of preserving history.

“We’re very happy to support them in any way that we can,” Engel said. She said when Tinker Belle is on the road, people will know it is a local manufacturer. 

She added that the company is proud to support Tinker Belle and other war planes, past and present.

The company moved to Monroe in 1961, so to see Michigan was “quite a surprise,” Engel said. 

Monroe bought Tinker Belle a little more than three years ago, using taxes from hotel stays. She travels to eight or nine air shows a year all over the East Coast. 

At the air shows, people tour the plane and often strap themselves into the seats to experience what the soldiers felt. 

“When we do the shows, we let people come onto the plane and we let people sit on the seats,” Monroe Spokesman Pete Hovanec said. “If we don’t have the seats, people are just walking by and not getting a real feel for the history of the aircraft.”  

“We’re very grateful to (ORO), and they’re a great company, a great corporate partner,” Hovanec said. 

Engel said they did not have to remanufacture the metal parts of the seat, and the nylon fabric was pretty much the only thing deteriorating. The metal parts that were reinstalled are mostly the same metal parts from pre-1961, Engel said. 

“We’re very proud of what we do here at ORO, we’ve been manufacturing seats since the 1950s ... we’re very proud of that,” she said. “(It is) something that we take pride in, supporting the war fighter, both back then and now.” 

The original seats had a 210-day warranty. Hovanec said it was a testament to their durability that they have lasted so far beyond the warranty. 

Hovanec said it was great to have a local company step up and show their support and be a part of preserving history.

“We’re very happy to support them in any way that we can,” Engel said. She said when Tinker Belle is on the road, people will know it is a local manufacturer. 

She added that the company is proud to support Tinker Belle and other war planes, past and present.



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