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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 6:49 am 
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What's the full story of this collection - i.e. how did he get his hands on all of these planes? Are they still there? Just curious.....


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:15 am 
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Soplata is basically a junk collector who also has an affinity for airplanes. He purchased his aircraft as scrap back in the 50s and 60s.

There are some informative posts right here on WIX about him, including Mike Henniger's compilation of the Soplata airframes (taken from numerous sources).

Here's a post I made to USEnet rec.aviation.military back several years ago when I visited Mr. Soplata.

Quote:
Subject: Walter Soplata Colection Visit Report
From: Randall Haskin
Date: Mon Jul 01 07:44:48 2002


I had a chance to visit the Walt Soplata farm this past week...a very interesting experience.

For those who don't know about the Soplata Farm, Mr. Soplata is a junk collector who also happens to share an affinity for airplanes. The results of his 50-years of saving airplanes from the scrap heap and smelter are resting next to his house in Newbury, Ohio, along with all the other junk he collects like cars, books and magazines, trucks, old computer and electronics, and other scrap. It is not a museum -- the airplanes are not there for display, but are the personal collection of Mr. Soplata. The airplanes are all in derelict condition -- wrecked, in pieces, and rotting away exposed to the midwest US weather. He purchased these airplanes over the years as his own hobby, and in many cases, has saved some one-of-a-kind airplanes from destruction when nobody else (especially the US military) cared about them.

First of all, I was glad that someone had posted directions on how to find his place here on USEnet, otherwise I *never* would have found it. It is buried away from sight off a dirt road. When I got there, I was amazed by the sight from the dirt road in front of his house...what a junkpile! I'd seen photos of the Soplata farm on other webpages (http://www.aircraftresourcecenter.com/Fea1/101-200/Fea182_Walters-Farm_Williams/part1/Fea182.htm), so I had a general idea of what to expect when I got there. What I didn't know, however, was what would actually be there, since I'd heard of at least two airplanes from there being sold off and restored (http://www.airrace.com/corsair74.htm). In addition, I'd read here on r.a.m. that Mr. Soplata was possibly dead.

Anyhow, I walked up to his house and knocked, but nobody answered. I heard of others visiting Walt's farm and just walking through things without asking, so I thought I'd go see what I could without being too intrusive.

Even right there at the house, and I was amazed with what was there. On his front lawn was a wingless T-6...in front of his door, a T-33 fuselage and the cockpit to a Victor...in the driveway the cockpit to a DC-7. I started strolling up the path through the junkpile, passing on the right side a B-52 fuselage on it's side, a Howard DG-A fuselage, a BT-13 fuselage, and a complete F-86F. On the left side of the path were a T-28 fuselage, what looked to be an AT-11 (I could just see the bombardier nose) and a Boeing commercial airliner cockpit. I spotted what I initially believed was a P-51H, but on closer inspection, it turned out to be the left fuselage of the XP-82 (44-83887). I snapped a few photos, then left the main path to the right and waded through the tall grass toward a complete FG-1Corsair with the wings folded. Next to the Corsair was one of the Skyraider prototypes (XBT2D-1, BuNo 09103). Also scattered around were a complete B-25J, a F7U Cutlass jet, and a P-47N fuselage. Further to the west was a C-82 fuselage and a Sikorsky helo of some kind stuffed amongst the trees.

It was at this point that Mr. Soplata walked out to find me...he is still alive and well and "working" on his collection. Initially he was not happy that I was out looking at his junk, and was *really* not happy that I was taking pictures! Apparently Mr. Soplata has had some problems with people visiting his farm and the IRS thinking he "runs a museum". So, he asked me to stop taking pictures, and to not publish the photos in any publications, which might encourage more people to come visit his airplanes. He asked me to leave, so I apologized to him and I followed him back out to my car on the dirt driveway. On the way, however, he asked me who I was and why I was there. During the course of our conversation, he must have realized I was an airplane enthusiast just like him because soon he was leading me on a guided tour of his collection and talking away about every single airplane!

Anyone who meets Mr. Soplata may get the impression that he's a doddering old man. It's true that he doesn't come across as the brightest individual, but after spending an afternoon talking with him about his hobby and his airplanes, I realize that he's really just old and eccentric. He has an amazing memory when it comes to aviation, and especially recalling specifics about his airplanes. Every airplane we'd walk up to, he'd give me a detailed history of where he got it, how much he paid for it, and even specific service histories of the airframes he had. It's very evident that he cares about his airplanes -- he does what he can to protect them from the weather by covering up cockpits and canopies, and building small shelters over some. He even talked quite a bit about how he was going to "put them all back together", which is obviously an overly ambitious project for an elderly man given the condition of some of the airplanes.

We talked about people buying airplanes from him -- I tried to talk him into selling me his T-6 or his BT-13 -- and he indicated that he didn't like to sell off his airplanes. "It's my hobby," he said, "and I paid for these with my own money." He said that people have come to him many times and offered to buy individual items or even the whole collection. "There's a guy in Texas who wanted to buy everything, and he even offered to build me a house down there just so I could still live next to my airplanes!" Another collector offered him $3 million for everything "and maybe I should have taken him up on it, I dunno." Recently he has sold off a P-82 Twin Mustang and an F2G Corsair, "so I could pay off the IRS," he said. He's especially against having any of his airplanes fly again -- he mentioned several times how angry he was that rare warbirds that have been restored to flying condition and are flown on the airshow circuit get destroyed in crashes. Apparently there was a stipulation with the sale of the F2G Corsair racer that it never be flown again. Other than that, he has no intentions of selling much of anything as long as he's alive.

When he dies, however, he says "everything will be for sale in Trade-a-Plane" with the money going to support his children. He mentioned who he planned to be the executor of his will and who will arrange the sale, but I don't remember who it was.

So, Mr. Soplata spent the rest of the afternoon showing me the rest of his collection, including his famous YB-36 which is sitting there cut up into many pieces. I also saw a complete TBM Avenger, F-86E, F-84, T-50, and Fleetwing (which he says is the only one still in existence). There were also fuselages for a Canberra, an F-105, a few T-28s, another TBM....there are just too many to list from memory.

All in all it was a very interesting visit. I sincerely hope that these aircraft find their way to a museum or into better care before they're gone.


This is the Google Earth view of the Soplata Farm:

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Here are the few photos I did get of the Soplata Farm:

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 7:59 am 
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Tks for sharing the pics Randy.

This is the first recent set I have seen.

Mind me asking ?????? :)

Errrrr. Any more to share ?

Tks again.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 8:54 am 
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Michel Lemieux wrote:
Errrrr. Any more to share ?


Nope, I wish I had more. Mr Soplata asked me to stop taking photos, and I complied with his wishes.

I could have taken several hundred shots out there...but I didn't.

This is the first time that I've put all of them on the 'net.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:07 am 
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Here's a link to some more photo's. Found this on the B-36 post.....

http://www.aircraftresourcecenter.com/F ... Fea182.htm


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:22 am 
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After looking over my photos, I sat down with the Google Earth photo and plotted out the approximate locations of some of the aircraft I remember seeing.

I don't know if anyone has a map of the property or any better photos than this, but perhaps some astute person with a good drawing hand could plot out the property and the approximate locations of everything.

EDIT: Changed the photo based on the angled-look shots from below.

Image

Image


Last edited by Randy Haskin on Sun Jun 11, 2006 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:37 am 
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Wow, theres a house in there!?! :roll:


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 10:51 am 
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So let's talk about this for a little bit.

Walter has stated before that he has no plans to sell his collection and that they will all be in his estate to be inherited by his children. Now 1st I hope that Walter lives a long and fullfilling life. But I had few speculative questions regarding the events that will take place after his eventual passing. I imagine that his children will liquidate his collection after ample morning time. Perhaps they won't, the aircraft are apart of their childhood. But for the purpouses of my questions, lets say they do sell off the collection.

How will they determine the appropriate value of all the aircraft?

Also I magine that when Walter passes that news of it will spread through the Warbird community like wild fire and that every Tom Dick and Harry will be calling and descending upon the Newbury farm. This obivously would be in poor taste considering that the family would be grieving and might put and bad taste in the mouths of the family when the time comes to part with the collection.

Does anyone else see this as the case? Or do others see these events playing out differently?

Would it be better for Museums and persons interested to correspond with Walter and the family now? Sort of get you foot in the door. Or not?

Like I stated before i hope that Walter lives for many years to come. Aircraft or not, I would preferr to have time with my Father and Grandfathers over some tin cans out in the yard. I'm not trying to usher anything just wanted to discuss this since it really hadn't been touched. The warbird community and generations to come will owe a lot to the forsight of folks like Walter. Thanks Walter

Shay
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Last edited by Shay on Sun Jun 11, 2006 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 11:37 am 
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Microsoft also has a satellite image application which offers an eagle eye viewpoint in some location, some of the screens from Soplata's place..

Image
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 Post subject: walters place,
PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 11:51 am 
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What is the address for the microsoft satelite image site.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 12:20 pm 
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Forgot to add the url:
http://local.live.com/


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 12:39 pm 
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Great shots!


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 3:09 pm 
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The selloff of Soplata's collection is destined to be the free world's last great warbird auction. From what I understand, Walter expects that his kids will waste no time selling the stuff off.

IMO, the coolest thing that could occur would be for some intrepid (and wealthy) warbird enthuisiast to approach the family and buy the entire collection outright, then use it as the basis for the "Walter Soplata Memorial Flying Museum". All of the potentially airworthy aircraft would be assigned to various restoration shops around the country where they would be returned to flying condition, while the remaining partial airframes would be restored as best as possible for indoor static display dioramas. An ex-military aircraft hangar in the Ohio area might serve as a great home for the collection, allowing everything to be organized under one roof. You could create a one-of-a-kind time line display in one section of the museum detailing how Walter went about acquiring and recovering each plane. His methods for relocating the planes back to his residence would be worth the price of admission alone. ;)

You'd have one of the most unique warbird collections in existence, not only because of the rare types, but because of the extraordinary back story. How great an achievement would it be to have this unparalleled collection of bona fide Americana transformed from junk to jewels and displayed all under one roof? 8)

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 3:42 pm 
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Quote:
The selloff of Soplata's collection is destined to be the free world's last great warbird auction. From what I understand, Walter expects that his kids will waste no time selling the stuff off.

IMO, the coolest thing that could occur would be for some intrepid (and wealthy) warbird enthuisiast to approach the family and buy the entire collection outright, then use it as the basis for the "Walter Soplata Memorial Flying Museum". All of the potentially airworthy aircraft would be assigned to various restoration shops around the country where they would be returned to flying condition, while the remaining partial airframes would be restored as best as possible for indoor static display dioramas. An ex-military aircraft hangar in the Ohio area might serve as a great home for the collection, allowing everything to be organized under one roof. You could create a one-of-a-kind time line display in one section of the museum detailing how Walter went about acquiring and recovering each plane. His methods for relocating the planes back to his residence would be worth the price of admission alone.

You'd have one of the most unique warbird collections in existence, not only because of the rare types, but because of the extraordinary back story. How great an achievement would it be to have this unparalleled collection of bona fide Americana transformed from junk to jewels and displayed all under one roof?

I agree with you completely. It would be great if the collection could stay together. Restore the various pieces of aircraft (fuselages, wings, etc.) maybe add his cars and other "junk" into the collection as well. For example they wouldn't necessarily have to find wings, engines, tec. for the KC-97, they could just restore the fuselage and display what Walter had rather than something someone else added. Just my $.02

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 4:54 pm 
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His homeowners association must be pissed!!!!


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