French aircraft restored in Texas
On Saturday September 13, a group of volunteers gathered at the La Porte Municipal Airport, just east of Houston, to observe the 70th anniversary of the first flight of a Morane-Saulnier MS-500 “Criquet” aircraft. Monsieur Sujiro Seam, Consul General of the French Consulate in Houston, was a special guest at this anniversary observation.
This particular aircraft, MS-500 construction number 04, was one of approximately 900 MS-500 aircraft operated by the Armée de l’air and the Aéronautique navale. When Dr. Stephen Hoffman and these volunteers began restoring this aircraft in late 2001 very little was known about its history.
MS-500 construction number 04 just before restoration began in 2001
With the help of several correspondents and specialists in France, who share an interest in aviation history, it was learned that MS-500 number 04 served in the Armée de l’air between 1944 and 1958. The aircraft made its first flight on 15 September 1944. It was then assigned to Section d’entraînement aérien et de liaisons (SEAL) at Issy-les-Moulineaux, France from September 1944 to June 1945, then to Groupe Aérien d’Observation d’Artillerie GAOA.2 and GAOA.22 at Saigon, Indochine from October 1946 to August 1955, and finally to l’Escadrille d’Aviation Légère EAL.74 and l’Escadrille d’Aviation Légère d’Appui EALA 4/70 at several locations in Algerie from September 1955 to April 1957. The aircraft was retired from service in the Armée de l’air in October 1958 and, as best as can be determine, has not flown since that time. The disassembled MS-500 number 04 was imported to the United States almost 40 years ago but restoration was not started until it was acquired by Dr. Hoffman in 2001.
Dr. Hoffman introduction of Consul General Seam at the anniversary observation
Dr. Hoffman and Consul General Seam discussing the history of Number 04