Or a Screw in your wing?
Jim Odenwaldt -Elliott Aviation Aircraft Sales Manager
Last month we touched on technical expertise and use of available resources during pre-buy (otherwise known as survey). We have all had bumps in the road as we move deals towards completion. Sometimes, it can be tough to get sellers and buyers to agree on price and terms when the pre-buy list is distributed. Here is a short story illustrating how the use of these skills assisted in delivering the best possible outcome.
Earlier this year, we had a light jet at an OEM service center for a pre-buy. It had come directly from a well-known non-OEM service center facility where a complete inspection had just been conducted for the seller, based on the calendar requirements of the maintenance program, prior to the deal being structured. The seller assumed that no major issues would be found as this inspection had just been completed.
At the OEM service center, during the pre-buy, however, a section of the leading edges was removed for a detailed inspection of the area. It was discovered a countersunk screw that was ¼" too long had inadvertently been installed in the corner of the panel. As this fastener was headed toward being flush on the outside, it was gouging into the structure underneath. The damage was beyond the allowable percentage of skin thickness. The service center had to call OEM Engineering to devise a repair, which could take up to three weeks at an undetermined cost. They did offer a 30 flight hour waiver so we had the option to move the aircraft to P&I, the next scheduled stop after closing. Either way, it had to be fixed.
The non-OEM shop that conducted the inspection sent representatives and ultimately took responsibility for the improper fastener. They agreed to cover the cost of the repairs but found it unacceptable to wait three weeks to get a repair scheme from OEM Engineering with no cost estimate. The buyer was willing to close and have the repair made during P&I but the company who offered to pay the bill, understandably, wasn’t going to offer their checkbook carte blanche.
I went to the buyer and presented the idea of having an independent DER devise a repair procedure and take the aircraft back to the non-OEM facility to conduct the repairs. This would accelerate the schedule and allow them to fix their own mistake. Thankfully, they agreed! We finished the inspection, settled the bill and had the aircraft towed back across the airport. The DER was able to quickly formulate a plan, and the work was completed in about two weeks. We were very fortunate all parties were very reasonable. Everyone proceeded with integrity and patience so this one was able to get done.
Jim Odenwaldt has extensive flying and technical experience with all Beechcraft products and sales expertise with all models of Hawker/Beech, Citation and Gulfstream. After graduating from Embry-Riddle in 1989, Jim worked as a CFI and maintenance technician. While with American Beechcraft Company, he was responsible for aircraft sales in the mid-Atlantic region. In addition to his ATP, Jim is an A&P and type rated in the Beechcraft Premier.
Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).
The Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education (KIAE) is a one-of-a-kind endeavor, currently networking 20 high schools in the state to provide students direct experiences in aeronautical engineering, flight, aircraft maintenance, and space systems. When I asked Tim Smith, Director of Frankfort High School’s Aviation program and CIO for KIAE, why this was important, he said, "Programs like these will lead to more students enrolling in post-secondary opportunities in flight/aeronautics, aircraft maintenance, aeronautical engineering, space systems engineering, aerospace computer engineering, air traffic control, and aviation management/operations. Another important element of expansion is that potential grant opportunities and other sponsorships examine viability and scale of the initiative. So, it is important to show its implementation in a variety of environments. In short, the more students that are studying aerospace, the more that will enter the workforce."
Three of their students got to experience a different end of the spectrum when they rode along with a gathering of Yakolevs at Bowman Field in Louisville, KY (just outside GlobalAir.com’s office). See more on the gathering itself here. I spent a few minutes with Michael Dahl, Jason Smith and Seth Padgett just before they climbed into their respective cockpits for a bit of formation flying.
Michael Dahl climbing into a Yak to experience formation flying.
GlobalAir: What inspired each your interests in aviation?
Michael Dahl: My uncle took me flying in an open-air cockpit bi-plane right here at Bowman Field when I was 11 years old, and that summer I flew on a commercial airliner on our vacation to California - all that exposure to flying in a short amount of time got my attention. When I found there was an aviation-related program at Frankfort High School, I made sure to get involved!
Jason Smith: My mother often took me to the airport as a baby to let the sounds of aircraft calm me, so I’ve been interested a long time! I knew after seeing "Top Gun" that I wanted to be a fighter pilot – I even dressed like Maverick for Halloween once.
GA: You’re too tall to play Tom Cruise!
JS: (laughs) Well, this was a while ago. Then I got involved with the aviation program at school. I was also motivated by learning about the various mission aviation programs that exist when I was at Oshkosh, so I’ve also become interested in contributing there.
Seth Padgett: I was born in Germany, so I’ve been on aircraft since I was a child flying back and forth to visit family. I became more seriously involved through an aviation camp where we did flight planning, and from there Tim Smith turned me on to the KIAE program in Frankfort.
Jason Smith receiving a safety briefing on riding along in the Yak.
GA: What have been the biggest obstacles for each of you in pursuing your pilot’s licenses?
MD: I was always concerned about "what if there’s a problem during flight"? I had to tell myself to get past it and stop being afraid to try.
JS: For me, it’s the number of hoops you have to jump thru, plus the financial burden. But, even though it’s a cliché, you truly can do anything you set your mind to do.
SP: It’s so much easier to get a driver’s license – take a test, drive an instructor around, and you’re done. Earning your pilot’s license is such a time investment; it’s easy to get discouraged. You have to remind yourself that you will get there, just be patient and stay focused!
GA: We, in the aviation industry, already know that bringing youth to aviation is vital to growing the industry. So what would you want to share with kids your age that may be interested, but intimidated, by flying?
SP: Statistically speaking, flying is very safe. When you see how many check-ups and tests you have to do to become a pilot and take care of your aircraft, you’ll see there’s nothing to be intimidated by.
MD: If you’ve never flown before, or are scared of flying, find an airport and see if anyone is willing to take you up and experience it for yourself. Learn more about airplanes & how they work - that’s how I got hooked!
JS: I agree – get up and fly! Talking about it isn’t enough!
Seth Padgett scoping the taxi path as they maneuver for takeoff.
GA: Lastly, what do you plan to do with your licenses – personal enjoyment, or career aspirations?
MD: Right now, mostly personal enjoyment. It’s still a little early for me to look beyond to career options.
JS: I mentioned earlier about being a fighter pilot and doing missionary work – which requires mechanical knowledge as well, so I’m putting focus there too.
SP: I’d like to fly for the Air Force initially. Afterward, I’ll likely transition to flying for services like UPS, FedEx, Delta – many options! But also personal enjoyment for sure!
Shortly after our conversations, all six pilots met and discussed formations, with the three boys listening intently. The students then met with the pilots of their Yaks and got personal instructions for their safety and knowledge about occupying the second seat. I marveled at the focus they all had on the task at hand as I snapped a few pictures – my presence wasn’t even registering anymore. They were now sponges, soaking in everything about the aircraft they were climbing aboard!
A few gallons of avgas were added, the Yaks (and their accompanying Cessna 172R and Christen Eagle II) taxied out and took to the air. I managed to catch a couple of passes over Bowman Field before I had to leave for another appointment, so I didn’t get to stick around to get their impressions afterward. But I think it was safe to assume that it was nothing but joy and excitement all around!
Watch the Yaks, 172 and Christen Eagle taxi out for takeoff!
This year was my first trip to Oshkosh for EAA AirVenture. I knew going in that there would be too much to see in one week – especially when I was seeking great stories to take in and put to print. But volume wasn’t my goal – a rich experience was what I needed. And on Thursday, I received the richest experience that many people don’t – even experienced pilots. I took my first ride in a seaplane!
I rode out to the Seabase, wondering how many patrons have never set foot in this area of Oshkosh. After all, it is a bit of a drive – about 20 minutes by bus (free to get there, $3.00 to return), and since the warbirds and airshows are all right there and easily accessible, the temptation to "go with what you know" is strong.
But once I emerged from the walking trail from the parking lot and campground to the base itself, I couldn’t help but wonder what those that have overlooked it know what they’re missing! The lush green land overlooking Lake Winnebago exudes a naturally relaxing atmosphere. The shelter house, built to handle maybe a couple hundred visitors at once, plus a giant fire pit on the shore still smoldering, reminded me of many of my scouting experiences. If Henry David Thoreau was alive today, this is where he’d hang his hat.
While there were docks around, all were in use. So when pilot Jeremy Williams of Tubreaux Aviation (pronounced "Two Bros") landed and floated up in his 1959 P-18 Super Cub, I shucked my shoes and socks and waded on out. It’s no easy trick for a large guy like me to slide into the rear seat, but I wasn’t deterred! Once I was strapped in and headset was in place, we glided out into the lake, accelerated, and off the water a moment later.
Now I’m not a big fan of heights (I know, I picked an odd profession then, didn’t I?), but Williams’ skill on the stick made the ride as smooth as glass, and I never once felt uncomfortable. He offered to let me try my hand, but I was enjoying myself way too much to change it up. As with anything that’s truly great, the ride was over way too soon, and I climbed down the float back into the water.
Shortly thereafter, I sat down with Wyche Coleman, co-owner of Tubreaux Aviation, to find out more about what makes them tick. I was surprised to find that giving fluffy journalist seaplane rides was just one thing they do!
"Luke Lambard and I built a hanger together. I was constantly being approached by people wanting to learn how to fly, since there wasn’t a place in Shreveport at that time training for licenses. So rather than sending people to Dallas for instruction, we decided to branch out. Jeremy was our first instructor – now we’re up to five full-time instructors."
Coleman and Lambert didn’t stop there, however. "When crew chief Dax Wanless expressed a desire to open his own maintenance shop, we saw the need and made the investment. Now we have three full-time mechanics with 20+ years of experience as an A&P/IA, we’re seeking a fourth, and looking to add avionics as well. We recently added acquisitions and sales to services offered, although we’ve been doing this for years already. There is no other place in Northern Louisiana that can teach you to fly, help you buy your aircraft, hanger and maintain it, all in one place!"
Coleman, an ophthalmologist by trade, has been coming to Oshkosh for a while, first flying there as a part of the 2003 Stars of Tomorrow (all pilots under 30 at that time). Now his brother Kevin, at 23, was flying in the airshow for his second year.
Once our conversation had ended, I wondered around to get a few photos, take some more video, change batteries in the camera, etc. – anything I could think to do to remain at the Seabase just a little longer. When we return in 2014, you’ll likely find me there again!
Check out the video of the Super Cub coming in for a landing, from the open door cockpit!
180 degree panoramic view of the Seabase in Oshkosh, 2013