“Wonder what this airplane thought when it first saw the light of day,” yelled a boy.
Suddenly Cardin’s defenses fell, and there he was, a man transformed. “Two hundred and sixty-eight feet straight down!” he sang, working the crowd like a carnival barker.
Within a few hours the Rolls-Royce judges arrived. They peered into Glacier Girl’s cockpit, examined the wheel wells, jotted notes on their clipboards, and whispered to one another. By Sunday, thousands of people had gazed at the P-38, Cardin’s voice was hoarse, and the results were in: Glacier Girl had won the 2003 Rolls-Royce Aviation Heritage Trophy, as well as the National Aviation Hall of Fame People’s Choice Award, voted for by the airshow crowd. Shoffner, now using a wheelchair, was delighted. “Bob had motivation and I had determination,” he said, “but had I known beforehand what it would take, I probably would have been scared to death. I’d still love to fly her. Maybe some day I’ll climb in and just forget to apply the brakes!”
Five months after Dayton, with Glacier Girl restored and flying at last, you’d think Cardin might finally retire, or at least take a vacation. Not a chance. “This fall we had over 500 people a day in the hangar, and we’re working on completing a new museum next door,” he says. “When it gets warm, I’m gonna fire the engines up and then we’re going to do some airshows next year. I’m staying with this. There’s still too much to do.”