L3 Grasshopper cross country ferry flight.

Final look over before departing T51 and heading north!

Final look over before departing T51 and heading north!

A couple weeks ago I was contacted by a friend about his neighbor looking to buy an L3 located in Texas, my interest was immediately peaked to say the least.   After a couple of phone calls to Russ about the airplane, and seeing the ad on barnstormers, the trip was sounding promising and the aircraft looked to be in great shape.

After getting the green light, a commercial airline ticket was bought and bags packed!  The initial plan was to

complete the pre-buy inspection Friday night, and deal with any discrepancies that night or Saturday morning (an advantage to sending an A&P/IA to ferry an aircraft), but the airline carrier had other plans.  A few hours of delay later, I arrived in Houston about 830pm local, so no inspecting that night.

Jim (seller) picked me up at the hotel in the morning and we went to breakfast to look over the logs while waiting on the sun to come up and the fog to lift.  Logbooks in order and off to the airport to see the airplane.  The pre-buy inspection went well.  An issue was found with the exhaust, but we were able to repair it.  My customer and Jim were both happy with the repair, so the deal proceeded as planned.  After a few quick laps around the pattern to make sure the airplane flew as expected we topped off the fuel, finished the paperwork and I blasted off to the north.  It was 5pm by the time I was airborne, but 2 hours of flying in a day is better than no hours.  Made it to Nacogdoches, TX, which I learned is the oldest town in Texas.  The FBO was closed when I arrived but fortunately they have a lock box with a key to the courtesy car that I used to go into town and get a hotel for the night.

Waking up bright and early, I got to the airport an hour before sun up, and once it did lift I was greeted by fog

Waiting for the fog to lift

Waiting for the fog to lift

that hung around until just about noon.  Checking the weather along my route showed that it was pretty widespread, time to sit and enjoy the coffee.  The airports wi-fi definitely got a work out as I was continuously checking weather at my destination, as well as other airports within range to see where it was clearing up at first.  Once the ceilings lifted enough to depart and were good at my destination, I punched north yet again.  A quick stop at CE Williams 3F3, to find their 24hr credit card pump not working and the FBO unattended, reaffirmed that I made a good decision in choosing airports that had other fuel options nearby.  Called ahead to Minden to verify they had fuel, and that I would be able to pump it and off I went.  I figured if that was the only issues I had on the trip, then I was doing something right.  From Minden, it was on to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where some folks in RV’s were having a sort of event.  Another quick top off of the fuel, check the oil and pushed on north!

West Memphis, KAWM nice facilities

West Memphis, KAWM nice facilities

I chose West Memphis, KAWM for an overnight stop.  While walking over to the, once again, closed FBO, a pilot from the local 135 charter saw me walking across the ramp and gave me a ride into town.  He was even nice enough to give me his card and told me to call in the morning and he’d pick me up if I had trouble getting a taxi, talk a bout a nice guy!

I don’t think I could have asked for better weather on Monday, I took off at sun up with almost zero wind at the surface, and once at altitude I had close to a 30mph tailwind.  The ole L3 was making over 110mph across the ground.  I was able to make great time and even change a couple of my fuel stops to longer distances while keeping the same amount of time in the air.

K62 was the only airport I landed at with the wind not straight down the runway or very light.  Even then, it was only a 12kt quartering crosswind, and the airplane performed just as I expected it too with no bad quirks showing up. That was my last fuel stop so I called the airplanes new caretakers to make sure that my destination airport was open, and that they would be there for my arrival.  I gave them an eta then hopped in the airplane for one final pushhome north.  Having put 13+ hours on the airplane and being in my home area, I was getting quite comfortable, so I put everything in the back, except for a chart so that I could make sure I stayed out of the Class B at KCVG, and headed on north to Waynesville, 40I.  After some talking with the new owners, and some debriefing from the flight, Rick wanted to go flying in his new airplane (can’t blame him for that!) So I hoped in the back and off we went, Rick did a great job and I know that he and Russ will not only take great care of the airplane, but fly it a lot too!  You may even see this airplane pop up in posts in the future…  Happy Flying!

Aviation is a Small World, and an update.

First of all, I am very excited to announce that Van’s is now offering Ferry Pilot services, I was raised in taildraggers, so contact me with any questions and to discuss your needs.

I received a phone call last week from a gentleman that is on the Taylorcraft forum http://vb.taylorcraft.org who I had spoken with the year prior about other Taylorcraft issues.  He said that he recognized the N-number of my airplane but couldn’t quite place it at first.  After looking back through his logbook he found that he first flew my Taylorcraft in October of 1961, and the last time he flew it was in 1962.  He owns a Taylorcraft still today, so that must say something about how great of an aircraft they are!  I have very good friends up his way in Ft Recovery, Ohio, so we made a deal that next time I’m up there we will get dinner.  Im hoping to drop into his private strip in my Taylorcraft.


The last week has been a great one at Van’s Flying Services.  A 1946 Taylorcraft that has sat dormant for 4 years has rebuilt tailfeathers, an overhauled tailwheel, overhauled magnetos, new liners on shinn brakes, and is just a couple hours of work away from a first flight.  The engine runs strong and the new tailwheel handles great on the ground.


Also, a 1941 Aeronca 65LB Chief is running for the first time in 6 years.  The engine was purchased by the owner off of Ebay, fortunately,  it was pickled very well and didn’t show any signs of corrosion inside the engine.  The rest of the airplane needed only minor work, nothing unusual for an airplane that has sat this long.  The engine runs very well, and I am looking forward to finishing the annual and putting a few hours on the airplane.

The video is dark because it was a late night in Ohio, but listen to it run, sounds good!

Here is the Chief in a little bit of light.

Aeronca 65LB

1941 Aeronca 65-LB ‘Super Chief’



I’m really looking forward to this annual inspection. A nice pre-war Super Chief, has original style gauges and a low time Lycoming O-145. These older aircraft usually need some special attention of one sort or another, but at first glance this one looks to have been well taken care of.

The down side to this beauty is that it has say dormant for a couple of years. For that reason, the owner asked me if I would be willing to do the post maintenance flight and put a couple of hours on the engine and airframe. Well, I suppose that it may reflect poorly of my confidence in my maintenance abilities if I declined and besides, who turns down the opportunity to fly a vintage taildragger?

Learning how to sell an airplane

Trade-a-plane and Barnstormers are great venues for getting word about an airplane for sale, but sometimes going beyond that can’t hurt, right? I’ve only received a couple of calls from the ads, mainly tire kickers, so I’m supplementing it with plan B: show the airplane off! Decided to join a group of friends for breakfast at an airport cafe that generally has a good turn out of people. So I got in contact with a friend and we loaded my kids in the back setting aim for Grimes Field, Urbana


We sure showed the utility available in the 172, the downside being most everybody in the restaurant flew themselves in, and aren’t looking for another airplane. More flyers and online marketing here we come!

Keeping vintage and antiques alive

One of my goals at Van’s is to do everything I can to keep  that older aircraft flying.  The Taylorcraft I fly is a 1946 that has been in my family since at least 1976.  Grandpa Big Jim VanDervort recovered the airplane in 1987.  It took him and a friend only 5 weeks from fly in to fly out!  I am now passing that tradition on to my children with the hope that they develop the same love for these aircraft that I have.



Taildragger fun

LJ’s first ride

LJ2 Maddy

Demo flight and photo opportunity

Words can’t describe the feeling that you get when breaking free from the earth, although some of these pictures might come close to doing it justice.  On top of that, every now and then the stars line up, and a good day of flying presents some awesome photo opportunities.  One of those opportunities presented itself while i was taking N8857B to I73 to show a potential buyer.  Shortly after landing at I73 and parking, a truck and trailer stopped me and asked if I would be there long.  I told them I’d be there 30 minutes to an hour, when they said they were launching a hot air balloon, and it should only take 30 minutes.  What are the chances that it would be the exact same colors as N8857B?  Well, it was.  Here are a couple pictures that i was able to grab. Yes, the Smiles are contagious!

Straight tail 172

Straight tail 172



The smiles are even more contagious than they look!

Ms Cherryl Jenny

Stinson 108 pre-buy inspection and flight home

_9079365 _9079371 _9079374 _9079386 _9079391 10649696_561193813985239_797610714121721908_n 10425136_328191610696005_4584944741820926600_nSunday 7 Sept, 2014 turned out to be a wonderful day.  Started off by heading down to I73 early in the morning to take my Taylorcraft around the patch a couple of time to warm the oil up for an oil change.  Then I met Allen and Scott V (Father/son) to head up to northern Ohio to do a pre-buy inspection and hopefully purchase.  The aircraft in in immaculate shape.  It is always great to see a classic aircraft go to a new owner that will not only take care of it, but fly it!  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves on the rest of the trip.

Excited to announce…

That Van’s Flying Service is now offering maintenance based out of Troy Skypark, 37I!  Currently accepting new clients, call with any questions and to schedule your maintenance.  513-668-2103.  Vans will still be able to travel to you, if you are located within the Dayton, OH area.