AT-6 TEXAN - BILL LEFF
The AT-6 “Texan” was the most widely used advanced trainer in the world during WW II and the Korean Conflict. During WW II, almost every fighter or bomber pilot, whether single-engine or twin-engine, won his wings in a North American Trainer or AT-6. In gunnery and bombing practice; in formation and instrument flying, and; in coast patrol and semi-combat duty, the Texan proved its versatility.
Approximately 15,495 AT-6s were built between 1938 and 1945. The USAAF procured 10,057 AT-6s; some went to the Navy as SNJ’s and others went to more than 30 allied nations. In 1948, Texans still in the USAF service were re-designated as T-6s when the AT, BT, and PT aircraft designations were abandoned.Bill’s purchased and authentically restored his T-6 “Texan” in 1975. His Texan was manufactured in 1943 as an AT-6C and saw service with the Army Air Corps at Victoria Army Airfield – Victoria, TX.
In 1951, the plane was “re-manufactured” as a T-6G and was then assigned to Goodfellow AFB TX and then Malden Air Force Base in Missouri. It was used as a trainer until 1955 when it was retired from service to make way for a new era of flight training that prepared pilots to fly jet aircraft. In 1959, the plane was sold as surplus for $771.11.This T-6 was restored to its original Korean Conflict military configuration with the help of the Air Force Orientation Group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Bill’s hometown of Dayton, Ohio.
Bill has made improvements to the aircraft to accommodate its new job as an air show plane. These improvements include an inverted oil system, modern radio and navigational systems for long cross-country flights, a smoke system, and, of course, the special equipment for the Starfire Night Skyshow
Bill Leff has had a passion for aviation ever since he was old enough to talk. Perhaps that passion was born in him or maybe it came from the energy emanating from his hometown, the birthplace of aviation, Dayton, Ohio.
As a young boy, Bill delivered newspapers in his neighborhood, including Hawthorne Hill (the Wright Brothers Home), to raise money—-not for candy or toys, but for flying lessons and later to buy his first airplane. All his earnings went to aviation. At the age of 15, Bill soloed in a glider and then pursued and obtained his Private Pilot license at the age of 16.
Bill’s aviation career includes more than 30 years of corporate flying, several years as President of an internationally known corporate aircraft maintenance company, and flight instructor for Trans World Airlines. Today, he also does test flying for defense related research projects as well as initial and recurrent training in Aero Commander aircraft.
He has been in the air show business since 1976 and developed the Night show act in 1989. He has flown more than 170 different types of aircraft from warbirds to airline transport aircraft and has well over 20,000 hours of flying time, including more than 4,000 hours in the T-6.
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