Mechanics from Wichita Air Services at the Newton City/County airport put pieces of history back together, restoring a classic 1930s airplane.

The plane "went through a lot of owners," Don Stancer, lead mechanic at Wichita Air Services, said.

"It's been around," Leeb Vonfange, shop manager, said.

Along with several other mechanics, they restored a 1937 Lockheed Electra 10A, a model similar to what Amelia Earhart flew on her final, ill-fated trip.

The plane was built in Burbank, California and purchased by the Bata family, owners of Bata Shoes, headquartered in Zlinn, Czechoslovakia. Founded in 1894, by Tomas Bata, Bata Shoes was one of the world's first multi-national companies and became known as "shoemaker to the world."

One of the premiere aircrafts of its day, the plane was flown worldwide on a marketing tour by a member of the Bata family.

In 1939, two days before Adolph Hitler's Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia, the plane was used to fly members of the Bata family to Poland. They later settled in Canada.

During World War II, the plane was used by the British government as an embassy shuttle, traveling between London, Amsterdam and Paris. It was later transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force where
it remained for the duration of the war.

After the war ended, it was sold to a private individual. It would pass through many hands over the decades, arriving in the United States along the way.

The plane, full of corrosions and worn out systems, arrived in Newton in December of 2010. Mechanics labored for four years, reskinning the fuselage, replacing the wiring and interior and applying fresh paint and polish.

"It's a hundred times better than when it got here," Stancer said.

Stancer and Vonfange talked in the garage while waiting for two Czechoslovakian pilots to land the plane outside. They were testing the quality of the plane, and after all these years, they would be taking it home.

A private collector in the Czech Republic purchased the plane. The aviators would soon be taking the 5,000 mile, 10 day trip across the Atlantic Ocean and into Europe where they would land it at an airport in Prague.

"It probably won't be back to the states," Vongange said.

Around an hour after they took off, the pilots - Milan Vacik and Nikola Lukacovic - landed back at the machine shop.

"It makes the pilot happy," Vacik said of the plane.

Lukacovic said, "It's a nice airplane to fly, not to difficult to land, cruises at a nice air speed. It was a top notch airplane of the '30s - ahead of its time."

Vacik said he hopes the plane's owner will fly it in air shows in Europe.

"But the most important thing is it will be in Czechoslovakia," he said. "It will be a wake up memorial for Bata and what he did for Czechoslovakia."