By Lance Cpl. Liah Kitchen | 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Voices echoed through the old warehouse, bouncing off old, dusty military vehicles and aircraft in various states of restoration. Tucked away to the side of the warehouse rests a partially restored Douglas SBD-1 Dauntless dive bomber, thought to be the last surviving aircraft of its kind.
Robert Cramsie, a restoration volunteer with the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum and a board member of the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation, dedicated more than 2,500 hours since December 2012 to restoring the Dauntless, using only blueprints, salvaged parts and even fabricating parts by hand when needed. Cramsie is a former aircraft mechanic, who currently works at Northrop Grumman in San Diego as a production environmental test technician.
“When you start with a portion of the aircraft that is trashed and slowly build it piece by piece, seeing where you started versus where it is when you finish is the most rewarding part of this project for me,” Cramsie said.