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FrontRunners: Fight Club

For an Allied pilot in World War II, few sights were as fearsome as that of the German Messerschmitt Me 262, a speedy jet fighter known as the Swallow (because it is shaped like one). Rare is the pilot today who can claim an Me 262 type rating on his license, but the Collings Foundation (www.collingsfoundation.org), an aircraft preservation organization in Stow, Mass., offers an opportunity to earn that distinction or just experience a ride in a re-creation of the jet. Scheduled to begin operations next summer, the Messerschmitt Flight Program plans to offer 30 hours of flight training, which is sufficient for the type rating, for a donation of $250,000. As for original Messerschmitts, none are airworthy. Chief pilot Rob Collings explains that the war was waning when these aircraft were employed, and “Germany was operating on a three-month plan, with no emphasis on corrosion control.”

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