Friday, June 07, 2013

Havasu, Arizona: Residents restore plane

Greg Moberly/News-Herald
 Jim Lasley, on the left, and Richard Griffitts, stand beside the GB/1 Special that they are restoring. The duo is hoping to have the plane restored in the next 60 days.

Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013 12:01 am

By GREG MOBERLY Today's News-Herald

Jim Lasley was busy toiling away in Richard Griffitts’ garage Thursday afternoon at the 2200 block of Ajo Drive, but they weren’t performing routine vehicle maintenance. The work was more involved than that.

The friends were restoring a 1971 Glen Beets Special or GB/1 Special that they uncovered in January at a private airstrip in Havasu Heights. They got the plane for nothing, but by the time they are finished refurbishing it to its former glory they anticipate spending between $22,000 and $23,000.

Lasley, 81, is a retired motion picture and air show stunt pilot and Griffitts, 73, is a retired agricultural pilot. Although retired, both have held on to their love of aviation as a hobby.

“We’ve taken it down to the bare frame,” Lasley said of the work they are doing.

Griffitts said he figures they are refurbishing about 50 percent of the plane and they’re using all original material.

Bill Mosser with Eagle Wood Works is helping the duo with the wood restoration on the plane.

“We’re refurbishing it (to last) for another 30 to 40 years,” Griffitts said.

They want to restore the plane in order to fly it recreationally and show it off a bit as well.

“The good lord willing and the creek don’t rise, we’re going to fly it,” Lasley said.

Lasley mentioned that he would like to display the plane during the London Bridge Days parade in October as well.

But Thursday they were doing what they have been doing for several months now, working out of Griffitts’ garage on the parasol monoplane.

Every weekday, the two are busy working on the plane.

So far they have put about $15,000 into the single seat plane’s restoration and they are anticipating completing the work in about two months.

They are looking for a pair of wing struts for the plane, but are expecting they will have to shell out $3,000 or so for another set.

The duo also is looking out for small shop with “reasonable rent” where they can complete the work, which includes more painting among other things.

The colors of the plane won’t be restored to the original red and white. Instead, the duo plan on painting the plane red and black and the red will be a brighter red than the original red, Griffitts said.

Glen Betts, the original designer and builder of the plane, completed the plane at Flabob Airport in Riverside, Calif. He and his wife have since passed away and the plane has bounced around the country through different owners, heading east to Florida and more locally to Bullhead City, before eventually ending up in Havasu Heights, Griffitts said.

After the plane was originally completed, it was put on display at the Experimental Aircraft Association event in Oshkosh, Wis.

Griffitts and Lasley have no plans of getting rid of the plane once they’ve completed the restoration.

For Lasley, he said he’s restored probably about 100 planes since he was 12 years old. The GB/1 Special is Griffitts second restoration effort.

Once the refurbishing work is complete, the plane will be able to travel about 600 miles on the two tanks of gas and it can climb about 2,000 feet in a minute, Lasley said.

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