Even before her entry into World War II on December 7, 1941, numerous private fund-raising programs were conducted in the United States in support of the British cause.
One of these programs began with the donation of a single Piper Cub J3 by W. T. Piper and Franklin Motors to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. This plane (CAA license number NC 1776) was to be raffled off. Piper distributors nationwide were then encouraged to provide one Piper J3 for each of the then 48 states for a wider fundraising program.
These 49 aircraft were painted in a special silver color scheme with RAF insignia and dubbed 'Flitfires', a wordplay on the RAF's famed Supermarine Spitfire fighter. All 49 aircraft were gathered at La Guardia Field in New York in April, 1941, and christened the 'Flitfire Brigade'. Except for the NC 1776, each was named for one of the states.
A number of these aircraft have survived to the present day in private hands, including the NC 1776. Now on display at the Peddycord FAC Flying Museum in Asheboro, NC 1776 was won by New Yorker Jack Krindler on April 29, 1941. After an ownership change, NC 1776 served the War Department in the US Civilian Pilot Training Program during WWII, and Orville Wright was known to have piloted this particular airplane in 1943.
Today, the Alamo Liaison Squadron has a replica of this very plane located at Cannon Field. In a famous photo, the Flitfire is shown flying in front of the Statue of Liberty at Ellis Island in New York. This aircraft was used as a primary trainer for many pilots who received their first flight lessons and tail wheel endorsements. It is a joy to fly from the back-seat with the right side clam-shell door and window open.