1946 Piper J-3, Colorado to Ohio, for now..

I’d been talking to this customer for a couple months helping him sort through airplanes that weren’t going to meet his mission, and finding the best deal.  We found one that seemed promising, and after having the logs and records emailed to us, we decided it was worth going to look at.  Spent all day doing an annual and going through the aircraft, only turned up a couple of small squaks, and fortunately Univair was only an hour down the road and we were able to get the issues taken care of and get a short test flight in before dark!

Piper Cub, Ferry flight, prebuy, antique airplane, J3 cub

Post annual test flight

Piper Cub, Ferry flight, prebuy, antique airplane, J3 cub

Post annual test flight








With the annual complete and the aircraft fueled and ready for the flight home the next morning, we decided to go get dinner.  We went to the Blackbelly Market, and it was really good.  I’ll go back if I’m ever in the area again.  After dinner we found a hotel and went to bed, it had been a long day.

The next morning we got the airplane pulled out, preflighted and headed east.  Angelo decided to come along to get some good experience with cross country flying.  He had foreflight on his iphone, but I threatened that if he used it I was throwing his phone out the window, and I meant it!  It was a short 1 hour hop to our first stop at Fort Morgan, so we started off by using some dead-reckoning.  Found the airport no problem, and Angelo quickly became accustomed to using a paper sectional again.

We packed very light for this trip, a couple t-shirts, socks, and unmentionables both for us, so that we had enough weight left to make some use of the wing tank, that stretched our legs to 3 hours with a little fuel left.  Keeping the first leg to close to an hour, so I can verify fuel burn and make sure the oil burn isnt crazy either, we stopped at Fort Morgan.  Passed through here last summer in a Champ.  Topped off with fuel, fuel was as expected and off we went.  The goal in flying slow airplanes a long distance is to keep time on the ground to a minimum.

Shortly into our second leg, the pin for the trim crank loose, so we made a quick diversion to Wray Municiple.  Turns out that is Bill Tracy’s home town.  Topped off with fuel again after quickly fixing the trim, and off we go.  It was a pretty good day of flying, taped up all the gaps around the doors  and windows, and was able to stay on the good side of numb!  I wouldn’t call it warm by any means, but it was tolerable!

Piper Cub, Ferry flight, prebuy, antique airplane, J3 cub

Fort Morgan, CO

Piper Cub, Ferry flight, prebuy, antique airplane, J3 cub

Wray, CO








About halfway through Nebraska the weather started to turn on us, can’t get away with blue skies the entire way could we, thatd be way too easy.  We landed in Kelly, NE to take a look at the weather and find a way through that made sense and had options.  Norfolk, NE was above VFR minimums as well as points in between, so off we went to check it out.  Practiced a bit of ‘Class G airmanship’ and made it into Norfolk with no issues at all.  The FBO was great, had very reasonable prices for a heated hangar, crew car, and even gave us a way into the hangar before they opened so we could make an early start.

Ate at place in town called, Black Cow, Fat Pig and had the prime rib, I highly recommend it!  6.9 hours of flying for the day, not too bad.

The next morning we pushed on east, weather was tolerable, and we didn’t have any real complications other than some head winds, which is all the time in a cub.  Landed at Portland, IN sunday night and had my misses come pick us up and take me home so that I could make it to my day job the next morning.  A friend gave me a ride up to get the cub the next day in his Navion, a very sweet airplane!  The cub is now tucked away in a friends hangar, while i tidy up a few maint details on it.  The logistics worked out better and it will be on to its final destination in just a week or two!

Piper Cub, Ferry flight, prebuy, antique airplane, J3 cub

Norfolk, NE

Piper Cub, Ferry flight, prebuy, antique airplane, J3 cub


1946 7AC, Ferry Flight

I’ll preface this with the fact that has been one of the most miserable and yet adventurous ferry trips I have made yet!  I think this one really sums up just what can happen while ferrying an airplane like this across our beautiful country!

My customer this time is also a good friend, Patrick.  We’ve been talking over the last few months with him sending me pictures or barnstormers links asking for my opinion.  He finally found one that both he and I agreed on that sounded like a good deal and would be a great aircraft for him.Ready to leave Colorado

Once the deal was made, I hopped onto a passenger tube and headed west, yet again.  I had some miscommunication with a Marine buddy that lives close, and he picked me up at the airport, however, i didn’t realize how far he now lived from the airport the Champ was at, oops.  No big deal I think, after all, I am just outside of Denver in Fort Collins, there has to be a hotel close.  Wrong again.  A quick call to the FBO by the seller, and they let me use their pilots lounge to get a few hours of sleep in for the night, not the most comfortable, but it was inside and climate controlled, that is a pretty big plus in my book!  The next morning I give the airplane a good look over and make sure everything looks up to par before i hand over a stack of money to the seller.  I start packing the airplane as the seller is filling out the last couple portions of the paperwork, once we are both done we shake hands, and I walk towards the airplane to start taking the Champ back east to Patrick!

Aeronca ChampI try to keep the first leg of ferry flights pretty close to an hour for a couple of reasons; first, it gives me a real world idea of what to calculate for fuel burn and second, I can feel out the airplane and see what kind, if any quirks it may have.  Upon landing at Fort Morgan Municipal, (run by an Ag company) I notice that it can use just a little more up elevator, the local mechanics were more than willing to let me borrow a couple of tools to make the trip that much nicer.  The rest of fly went great that day.  Clear skies and light winds, only stopped at one airport that didnt have self serve fuel or anybody around, but I plan for that and had enough fuel to make it a bit further.

oops!My next to last stop was at another small un-named ag strip that was open to the public and had fuel.  The wind was starting to pick up a bit so I landed on their grass cross runway, that turned out to not be a legit runway after all.  However uneventful  of a landing, the airplane may have gotten a bit muddy, sorry Patrick!  Anyway, topped off and pushed as far east as i could, which was Burlington, Iowa.  Met another nice ag pilot whom gave me a ride into town and dropped me off at the Holiday Inn.  As it turns out, the fertilizer plants are running full swing this time of year and ALL of the hotels with in 45 miles have been sold out for the last month, and for upcoming month.  Good thing I brought a tent and sleeping bag with me.

Walked across the street to McDonald’s to grab some food and wait on a taxi to take me back to the airport.  When I taxied in at Burlington I noticed an open hangar with a cub in it, and a truck parked out front.  Lucky for me it was still there when i got back!  Not too sure what was going on, I left a note on the zipper of my tent, that i set up inside of his hangar, briefly explaining the situation and that I would be glad to move somewhere else if needed.  The worked out really well actually, I had a roof over my head, and electricity to charge my phone.  No shower, again, but I quit noticing the smell a few hours ago anyway.

StormsSunday morning is when the trip started to get really fun.  I was woken up by thunderstorms that were very close.  I disassembled the tent in record time and was packed up and ready to go in 10 minutes.  A quick look at the radar showed that I was on the very northern edge of the storms and they were moving mostly east.  Nobody came over night to check on the cub, so I put his hangar door down, would hate to see the airplane blown into his truck or worse.

It came down to decision time, the weather, both radar and visually, looked ok to the north so I decided to go for it.  Just as my wheels were braking ground, I noticed a few drops of rain on the windscreen, not  a lot, but they were there.  They quickly went away as I headed north and the weather turned to overcast with good visibility underneath.  I made it Illinois Valley Regional Airport and borrowed the crew car to go grab another quick bite in town.  Then fueled up and tried to push farther east.  I ended up returning to Illinois Valley and waiting a bit, everything south of the Illinois River was fogged in, and as it started to lift it actually got thicker, which made things a bit, interesting at times.

My second attempt I made it Fulton County Indiana where the thunderstorms were starting to be imbedded in the overcast, and I don’t play with those.  Patrick was starting to get pretty anxious at this point, it had been thunder storming in Ohio for a couple of hours, and he said something about not sleeping the past couple of nights, I took it personal that he didn’t really trust me to deliver it safely!  Which was all in fun of course.

imageContinuing to practice my Class G airman ship, I pushed on south to Richmond Indiana, where I made a call to my wife, whom was standing next to Patrick, and told her to have Patrick go outside in 30 minutes.  Then i text Patrick telling him I was at an airport about an hour and a half away waiting on weather to clear up.

I made sure to approach from my final destination from the north and just a bit high, so that I could keep the power low and do an extended glide in.  I had it timed just right and threw in full power for the image19-1024x768go-around just as I was coming around the tree’s and surprised Patrick pretty good!  Wish someone would have caught that on video, but that’s probably for the better!





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Crossing the Continental Divide in a 1940 J5

Recently completed a trip in a 1940 Piper J-5A from Upper Michigan to Dayton, OH and then on to California!


Pre-buy inspection/annual

Pre-buy inspection/annual

I go to Michigan and do a prebuy, bring it home through Wisconsin, it was in west upper Michigan.  Stop at a friends over night and get a ride in a 1929 new standard at Madison WI.

1929 New Standard www.biplaneridesofamerica.com

1929 New Standard


Overnight stop

Overnight stop

His place

Then on home so the new owner can get some time in it with his CFI, he just finished his sport and is working on his private.
Two days later I load up and punch west!
I have Nav lights that are batt powered, so I call ahead to Peoria, Ill and ask them to leave the lights on a bit longer.  No radio of any kind with me.  They do and I land just after dark!

Following the river to better weather

Following the river to better weather

Run into a front the next day and rain forced me down in Sioux city Nebraska at an ag strip, great guys!  Even had a dolly with a J3 on its nose for storage!
I hang there for a couple hours listening to everything they say, because I’m hoping to do some ag flying soon..

Rain stopped but ceiling were still low, so I followed a river out past the storms.  They don’t put towers in the middle of rivers 🙂

Made it to Torrington that night where the guys at Ag Flyers gave me a ride into town and coffee the next morning!  As well as let me use there truck and tools since my fuel shut off decide to be a fuel leak valve..

Fuel leak repair in progress

Fuel leak repair in progress

Got it fixed, and off I went that AM,  really wanted to stop in Medicine Bow, but I caught a huge lift and had the cub at 12,5, climbed 1,200 fpm to get there even!  (I have video evidence) so i didn’t want to give that up.  Landed at Rawlins where I had my introductory lesson to density altitude, 10,500.  Made it out safely, but not by much.  Ground effect up the mountain and then gain speed down to break away and keep climbing slowly.  I think if I wasn’t as familiar with small airplanes as I am, it could have turned out much differently.  At Evanston, I waited for it cool off some before I went to Salt lake City.

Ag Flyers

Ag Flyers



The way into Salt Lake City

The pass to SLC, was Gorgeous and the most terrifying terrain I’d flown over, yet…

Stayed the night in SLC #2, then off at sun up the next morning. Saw the salt flats, and stopped at Wendover Nevada, then on west.  I skipped over kMWC, and got out on the ground in lovelock about noon, only 2.5 hours till the destination… Photo won’t upload, it’s at the end… I sleep on the couch a couple of hours and wake up to check weather, still crap…  So I post here hoping to find a clear way west!  Gumpair gives me solid advice, and I realize I’m trying way to hard to ‘find’ good weather.  So I decided to go to town and get a hotel.  For a population of 2,500 they have 10 hotels!   The owner of the Cadillac inn, picked me up and dropped me back off at 0500, can’t beat that!!  Even though the ENTIRE town was closed for 4th of July and I had TV dinners from the gas station, oh well, I’ve had worse!

Next am I head to Reno, wow their airspace sucks with no transponder!  I try to follow 80, but I can see the fog that truckee is reporting in the first turn away from Reno, so I go to Reno stead and refuel.
Grandstands were fenced off, with an 8′ fence, so I couldn’t get in..



So I took off and followed gumpair’s route.  I’m glad I did!  It was lower and at 8,500 was super smooth.  As I was
Descending I head some really loud noises that scared the crap out of me!  Fire walled throttle (all ready there) added carb heat, good drop, so no ice.  Checked mixture, good.  Mags good,  then calmed down and realized I had a metal monster can that was collapsing from the added air pressure! Lol.

There was a TFR around Beale AFB, so I stopped at KOVE to make my one and only call to WX brief the entire trip.  It was basically the class C, so stay out of it and I was fine!  While flying over KOVE to check the wind sock I saw a 172 on downwind, no biggie, fall in behind him and land.  He should have been turning off as I was flaring, but instead decided to back taxi! Lol until he saw me and turned even faster around.  I made the first turn off, so we were never really close.  Until I left that is, when he didn’t see me again… And did a mid field departure cutting me off.  Oh well, worse had happened to me.  It’s amazing I saw him since I didn’t have a radio!!  A short 20 minute flight later and I was at my destination!62B9B539-731F-43A5-8482-ACD6B265D0FE_zpsabuzb6qd

Talking with the FBO owner Honeycutt Aviation, found out we graduated from the same highschool in Ohio!  We both had a class size of about 50, he graduated with my uncle.  I posted on FB that I was here and looking for a ride, with in 30  minutes I had a ride from a fellow pietenpol pilot!  Then a United flight and I was done!  29.2 hours from Dayton Ohio to Cali!

Spring time is officially here!

The weather is starting to break, I have been able to work with the hangar doors open letting some fresh air and

Goodfolks & O'tymes 1929 Travel Air

Goodfolks & O’tymes 1929 Travel Air

sunshine in.  Currently have a few irons in the fire as well.  Recovering an aileron for a Pitts, an annual on the L3 that I just ferried back, an annual on Goodfolks and O’Tymes Biplane Ride’s Travel Air to get it ready for the ride season that is looming ever so closer!  The 1941 Aeronca Chief that I did some engine work on over the winter is back together and had been test flown for just over an hour, and is doing very well.   I plan to put a few more hours on it for the owner, and helping him make sure the airplane is properly exercised in the coming months.

Wrapped up with a couple of customers last week as well, a leaky front crankcase seal on a 150 Franklin, as well as an annual on a Super Cub, both of them are great aircraft with even better owners.  Its nice seeing the airplanes I’ve worked on flying.

As for my own projects; The Taylorcraft’s engine is back together after replacing all the oil seals, and I am now in the process of rebuilding the baffles. The Pietenpol is starting to see fabric being glued on to the tailfeathers and more will be happening with it soon.  If you see the hangar door open, feel free to stop in and chat for a little bit or to just say hello!

Aeronca 65LB O-145 Lycoming

1941 Aeronca Chief, O-145 Lycoming


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?

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.