ZEPHYRHILLS — Embattled Turin Aviation won't be flying a WWII plane to Europe this summer as planned.
According to a Facebook page associated with the company, "the needed last-minute funding to see the dream to its conclusion did not materialize."
Turin had been promoting its restoration of a 1943 Douglas C-47 warbird — nicknamed "Hit or Miss" — throughout the past year, soliciting donations from the public for the project. The company, based at Zephryhills Municipal Airport, claimed the plane had been donated by Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum in Bradford County.
But a Tampa Bay Times investigation in March revealed that the plane was caught in a battle between Turin and the museum, which did not donate the plane.
The report showed that Turin's owner, Ed Franco, wasn't certified to fly the plane he claimed he'd pilot. And as Turin was asking people for money, the company owed former workers more than $52,000 in back pay and owed a Tampa airport more than $75,000 for unpaid rent and fees, the report showed.
The museum's director, Robert Oehl, said at the time that Turin had mismanaged its restoration of his plane, the title of which he had agreed to transfer if the fix-up was successful. Franco said Oehl violated the agreement and said he and his company had been wronged by Oehl, the former workers and the Tampa airport.
Franco and another Turin employee did not respond to two emails sent by a reporter requesting comment.
Oehl was not surprised to learn the plan wasn't going to Europe, he said recently.
Oehl said he has secured attorneys to fight to get the plane back and to contest a lien Turin placed on it.
Contact Justin Trombly at email@example.com. Follow @JustinTrombly.