Harry Hansen was a Continental Airlines co-pilot in 1961 flying from Dallas to Abilene when his captain pointed down to a decrepit airplane parked next to a farmhouse near Lake Worth.
An aficionado of old aircraft, Hansen was intrigued. After the flight, he learned that the farmhouse was on Amon G. Carter Sr.’s Shady Oak Farm. Hansen happened to know the civic booster and newspaper publisher from a previous job flying for oilman W.A. Moncrief. So Hansen called Carter and told him he was interested in the aging airplane.
“He asked me, ‘What do you want that old piece of junk for?’” said Hansen, now 79. “I said I wanted to restore it one of these days. And I was there the next morning to get it.”
The aircraft that Carter gave him was a Travel Air 5000, a rare and iconic plane that today is considered the oldest known piece of Carter’s aviation legacy in North Texas, according to the Veterans Memorial Air Park in Fort Worth. It was one of only 14 such planes built and was operated by National Air Transport when it first added passenger service to its Chicago-to-Fort Worth airmail route in 1927.