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Man wants to see Zero fly again over Japan

March 29, 2013 at 2:40 PM

TOKYO, March 29 (UPI) -- A New Zealand man originally from Japan says he is taking steps to fly a World War II-era Zero over the skies of his homeland where it was built.

Masahide Ishizuka bought an airworthy Zero fighter plane in 2009 for $3.72 million from a U.S. investor, The Asahi Shimbun reported Friday.

The plane is one of only four Zeros capable of flight known to exist and they are all in the United States. About 10,000 Mitsubishi A6M Zeros were produced in Japan during World War II.

Ishizuka plans to transfer the plane's registration to Japan, but there is no guarantee it will ever fly there.

Japan's aviation authority requires planes to be structurally sound and capable of meeting 21st century safety regulations. Pilots must have sufficient knowledge and skills to control the plane.

Ishizuka, 52, has found a 40-year-old Japanese flight instructor qualified to fly his 70-year-old plane in the United States. Even so, maintenance costs will be high -- an anticipated $318,000 a year. He hopes to cover part of those costs by exhibiting the plane at air shows, but he's also seeking sponsors.

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