is the man behind the stick in "Korean War Hero," but
rather than the owner, he considers himself more the
caretaker of this beautiful warbird and her storied
history. An avid pilot for over 40 years, Jim takes
great pride in carrying the legacy of the veteran
Corsair to airshows all over North America. He lives in
important that we keep the history of these aircraft and
the men that flew them alive and active," said Jim in a
recent interview. "The role these heroes played in
securing democracy and our freedom cannot be measured.
We owe them a great debt, and it is an honor and
privilege to carry on for them and tell their stories."
began flying at the age of 9 years old flying his dad’s
Stinson 108 and acquired his pilot’s license in the mid
‘70’s. His dad purchased a 1943 North American SNJ-4 in
1980 and Jim started to fly that plane in 1981. Since
that time, Jim has flown many different Warbirds such as
the B-25, T-28, L-5, B-17, P-51, F-18 Super Hornet,
PBY-5 and others. Currently, Jim flies his Mitsubishi MU-2 Solitaire all over the US and has flown
this type since 1987.
years, Jim & Joe have owned many different aircraft such
as F8F-1, F8F-2 Bearcats, T-28, Goodyear Inflatoplane,
300 & 400 series Cessna’s, C-152, C-172 and others.
amassed over 5000 hours of flight time, many at the
controls of this military icon. He also flies his SNJ-4
at airshows when not flying the Corsair.
father Joe served in the United States Marines, and
instilled his love of military aircraft in his son.
After Jim attended college, the two set out to find a
warbird to restore and fly. In 1981, they found a
Corsair in a lime and avocado orchard near Homestead,
FL. Completely dismantled, the aircraft's 10,000 lb
weight made for quite a project to relocate, much less
restore, but Joe and Jim made the purchase, took the
aircraft home to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and began an
the "Korean War Hero" flew again, and both Jim and Joe
piloted the airplane at airshows all over the East Coast
until November 2002. Sadly, while on the way to an
airshow in Columbia, SC, Joe developed engine trouble
and died in the resulting crash. Onlookers said he made
a heroic effort to steer the plane away from as many
homes and populated areas as he could, ultimately
crashing into a grove of pines.
stored the wrecked plane parts for six years, then
decided to put it back in flying condition. He worked at
it for a year himself, laboring over the project while
finding the parts and materials he needed. Then an old
friend, Bill Klaers of Westpac Restorations in Colorado
Springs convinced him to send the aircraft to him to
finish the job. Finish he did, and two years later the
"Korean War Hero" took to the skies once more.
Jim now performs at 18 or
more airshows per year, bringing tears to the eyes of
veterans and awakening the curiosity of upcoming
generations to learn more about the fight for freedom
waged by those who came before. He also is proud to
participate in the U.S. Navy Legacy Flight program, in
which he flies alongside a modern Navy F-18 Super Hornet
fighter in a poignant display of military heritage and
Jim Tobul and "Korean War Hero"
thumbs up from the cockpit of "Korean War Hero"
- photo by Heather Alexander