MISSOULA, Mont. It takes a great movie to tell the story of a community that came together to restore an iconic plane to Montana skies. This weekend, Missoula will host the premier of “Miss Montana”, a documentary about the community that brought the plane back to Montana.
“Return to Montana: Miss Montana to Normandy” tells the story of the plane’s recovery, as well as a glimpse into Montana’s pioneering world of mountain flying.
Eric Ristau, filmmaker: “We were delighted to find photos from nearby collectors that help us to tell that story.” “The state photo archives, and the items we were able to collect on that plane, are remarkable. People will be interested to see things back many, many decades.
“We are making the film at a very high standard these days. It was difficult to balance that. However, many of the older photos were of exceptional quality.”
The film covers all of the historical highlights, starting with the tragedy at Mann Gulch to the near-fatal crash that almost destroyed the plane, and continuing through years of neglect.
Volunteers tell the story about what the plane did in Montana over the years.
Stan Cohn, a local historian says that the plane flew chicks across the country.
Perry Francis, a volunteer, says that the plane carried chickens, auto parts, and in and from Mexico. He also added that he was able to transport people.
Ristau informs us that under the images is a key news item from the KPAX archives.
“KPAX plays a part in this in this movie because Ian Marquand went on the run in October 20 years ago to bring Miss Montana back to Montana 20 years ago.”
“On Monday in West Memphis, Arkansas, Missoula’s Museum of Mountain Flying took possession of the most famous C47 aircraft ever to fly through the skies of Montana,” Marquand reported.
Bryan Douglass, Miss Montana’s Miss Montana, told Normandy and Beyond that it was a great experience and that they interviewed a lot of people. “Volunteers and anyone else you can think of who has had anything to do with this plane. You would be amazed at how many people arrive on this plane.
The effort was put into finding parts, making plans, and bringing in the Rosies’, many of whom were women and girls.
“From things like scraping this gunk out of the belly with spatulas to people licensed airplanes and power plants, who, under FAA rules, could actually work on this plane. Work on engines. Work on controls,” Ristau recalls.
And the sprint in the final seconds to get away.