In 2012 Tom Woodhouse who at the time worked for Personal Plane Services under the guidance of Tony Bianchi, was put in contact with the owners of the Membury Estate in Berkshire, the Walker Family, who were looking for a C-47 aircraft that had flown from Membury airfield in World War 2. Originally Tom’s brief was to find a suitable aircraft for static display but Charlie Walker being a commercial pilot and with a keen sense of history showed enthusiasm when told of the possibility of finding an airworthy machine.
After narrowing down the likely candidates, Tom discovered the E-Bay auction for C-47 N308SF and traced the flights she had made in the last few years. With that information Tom found out that the current owners were Universal Asset Management. N308SF had flown from a small number of airfields that Universal Asset Management operated from and after searching those airfields on Google Earth, the shape of a C-47 revealed itself on the apron at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. This was the very same airfield that she had flown to at the end of hostilities on October the 30th 1945 when transferred to the Reconstruction Finance Company by the US Air Force. N308SF had gone full circle, had 52,000 hours on the clock to prove it and was potentially facing being scrapped again!
In December 2012 after having its wartime history confirmed with help from local historian Roger Day (Author of Membury at War), it was clear that this C-47 was 42-100521 and had flown from Membury Airfield. The aircraft was purchased by Philip & Charlie Walker and was flown from Walnut Ridge, to Punta Gorda Florida where the wings were removed to allow for road transport to Shell Creek, Florida for refurbishment to commence. Even though she was converted to cargo configuration and the interior bulkheads were removed, most likely while in service with the French Aeronavale, the aircraft still retains a number of rare features including all of the exterior formation-flying lights and many patch-repairs due to battle damage received during her service in the Army Air Force.
In 2016 Clive Edwards and Gordon Gray prepared the aircraft, still in an unfinished state, for containerisation and shipping to the UK, this was completed in March 2016 and Night Fright is now back in England with the restoration team led by Ben Cox at Coventry to return the aircraft to the sky and become a flying memorial to the men of the 436th Troop Carrier Group who fought and died for the liberation of Europe.
Eventually part of the original runway at Membury will be restored to allow her to operate from her original WWII airfield, the only C-47 in the World to do so. There are also exciting plans to build a museum on the Membury airfield site which will not only tell the story about Night Fright but also the history surrounding Membury and the wartime role of the area.