When Steve Barber got his hands on a Mitsubishi Zero A6M that had been found in an Indonesian jungle, he was excited. And as the ex-Marine explained to Stuff magazine in 2010, the Japanese World War II plane had also been “a lot of fun to fly.” Even so, as Barber later revealed, this model of aircraft had its downsides.
You see, for all its ability to turn like a top, the Zero was something of a deathtrap. Barber told Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine in 2007, “The Japanese government didn’t care if the pilot survived. They were looking for climbability and maneuverability.” The airman has a deep understanding of the Zero, too, and this knowledge has yielded a rather shocking secret.
The Zero that Barber has flown, though, was originally shot out of the sky in 1941 during World War II. Having crashed into the Indonesian jungle, the plane was then pulled out of its resting place 50 years later. Apparently, whoever had recovered the craft had intended to fix it back up, but the job was not complete; now, the Zero is the only plane of its type that can still fly.