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Picketts keep vintage planes in the air

Simply put, Airmotive Inc. of Clinton restores antique airplane engines. The company, run by brothers Roger and Roy Pickett, is one of about a half-dozen in the entire U.S. that works on old radial engines, made from the 1930s through the 1950s.

Airmotive uses World War II technology to fix the engines. Every 1,000 flight hours, the old planes need inspection and maintenance, Roger Pickett says.

“Old warbirds,” vintage WWII planes, are the main aircraft the Picketts work on, he says.

Airmotive works on engines and parts from across the U.S. and worldwide.

They disassemble and clean every part of the engine, from sand-blasting the cylinders to making sure the crankshafts are still round.

Pickett says parts are pretty easy to find, often still in their original boxes.

The company works solely on radial engines. (“That just means they’re round,” Pickett said to a confused reporter.) The last radials were produced in the 1950s. These days, planes have turbine engines, which are more reliable, he said.

Airmotive is a known worldwide, with clients in nations such as Colombia, France and South Korea.

Roger Pickett and his late father, Walter, opened the business in Alread in 1973. At its peak in the 1970s, the company employed 30 people. It now has a crew of about 10.

Walter Pickett was a WWII air force veteran, and got his start working on planes at a military base in Orlando, Fla., long before the days of DisneyWorld.

Roy Pickett joined his brother in the business in 1980.

Their business burned down in January 1990. They Picketts moved their business to its current location beside the Clinton Municipal Airport.

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