From the beginning, there was little interest
in creating a plane that only looked like a Me 262; the objective
was to create precision duplicates of the jet. There were significant
technical challenges to overcome: surviving airframes were rare
indeed and technical drawings were incomplete -- not to mention
scattered across two continents.
Without a master pattern to follow, it
simply could not be done. What was desperately needed was an original
Me 262 that could be torn apart, analyzed, and duplicated, piece by
piece. Nothing less would work. Could such a plane be found?
The ideal candidate aircraft was found
in an unlikely setting: a solitary example of an un-restored and original
Me 262 was sitting outside of Willow Grove Naval Air Station in eastern
Pennsylvania. The aircraft, once known as "White 35,"
was a rare Luftwaffe trainer, complete with dual-controls.
Having spent decades on outdoor display, the jet was deteriorating rapidly.
Unless it could be properly restored, its days were clearly numbered.
This made it the single best hope for use in a restoration/reproduction
project. It was soon discovered that the U.S. Navy owned the aircraft,
but lacked the resources to give the old B-1a a quality restoration.
Recognizing the possibilities, Snyder entered
into a two year negotiation process with the Navy. The Navy was
offered an attractive proposal: permit the old warbird to be dismantled
and used as a template, and they would get back a fully restored aircraft
at no cost to the government. The Navy accepted the deal, and
the search for a suitable fabricator was mounted.
Originally, plans called for subcontracting
all new aircraft construction to a private group in Germany; however,
a requirement to keep the "reference aircraft" owned by the
U.S. Navy within the U.S. forced Snyder to find an alternate contractor.
After a review of several potential restoration groups, Snyder contacted
the Texas Airplane Factory (TAF) in Fort Worth.
The expertise needed to build the jets
was found in Herbert Tischler, TAF's owner. Tischler quickly agreed
to take on the project, submitted formal cost estimates and began setting
up a production timetable. With TAF on line as the prime initial
subcontractor, construction began on July 1, 1993.
The Me 262 Project was at last a reality