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!

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