Gene Strine is the vice-president of the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum (MAAM). During World War II, he served in the US Navy after completing aviation machinist mate school, flight
engineer and gunnery school at Jacksonville, Florida. He was
transferred to squadron VP-74 at Floyd Bennett Field in New York
flying anti-submarine and convoy coverage in the North Atlantic.
His squadron was transferred several times as it operated along
eastern coast extending to South America, Panama
and the Galapagos Islands.
Recovery of a Black Widow
After seeing photos of a crashed,
but intact "Black Widow" in 1979, his second great
adventure in life was his recovery and ongoing restoration
Black Widow 43-39445. Gene learned about the plane from a friend
at an airshow, who described a P-61 crashed in the mountains,
and had faint photographs of the plane - xeroxes of another
traveler' pictures. From this lead, he launched an expedition
to locate and recover this wreck.
The museum's restoration shop is filled with
pieces of the P-61 "Black Widow". The story of the plane
encompasses a history that began when it crash landed into
the Cyclops Mountains near Hollandia (today, know as Jayapura),
in West Papua, on January 10, 1945. Only three P-61's are
in museums today. The MAAM's is then the fourth black widow
know to exist in the world. The others are: (1) Fragments
in China from a plane that crash landed there. (2) P-61C 43-8353 displayed at the
USAF Museum (3) Smithsonian's
Paul Garber Facilty in long term storage.