Monday, June 5, 2017

AirLake Aviation at Camdenton Memorial Lake Regional Airport (KOZS) purchases training planes from Australia

A combination of a great pricing deal from Australia and the ability to offer a new service was the catalyst for Downey to pull the trigger on the planes, despite not being able to physically inspect them before the purchase.





A Cessna 172 XP single-engine airplane manufactured in Wichita, Kan., sold to an individual in Arizona and then taken overseas to the Australian Outback has found a new home just 200 miles away from where it was first assembled.

John Downey, owner of AirLake Aviation at Camdenton Memorial Lake Regional Airport, recently bought two planes from Australia as the 22-year veteran pilot looks to expand flight training to serve a niche for the entire region. Downey also provides pilot training, charter flights and banner flying services out of Camdenton.

The extra-horsepower Cessna was built in 1977 and was housed in Arizona until it was purchased by the Australian government in 1989 and then by Downey a couple of months ago.

Disassembled, the Cessna and a twin-engine Piper Seminole were shipped via barge from Australia to Long Beach, Calif., where they traveled by train to Missouri. From Kansas City, they were placed on a 50-foot wide flatbed trailer and hauled to the Camdenton airport.

“This one, the Cessna, because it was extra horsepower, they were actually developed for the Air Force. It was called the T-41. They made about 500 of them for the Army and Air Force and then started making them for the public,” Downey explained. “We’ve been working on them for about a month and a half. This one actually runs, but we’ve got to wait a little bit for the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and their paperwork.”

The Piper, built in 1981, was designed and primarily used to train pilots, but may have had a rather unusual use in Australia. Downey said when they received the Seminole it had several black boxes and a high frequency technology system he was unfamiliar with, theorizing it could have been used for GPS mapping or surveillance services.

The Seminole, still being assembled, is a twin-engine plane for a rather difficult flight training program that is significantly more advanced than a single-engine pilot license program. The twin-engine flight training program Downey is putting together will be the only one of its kind in the region.

“The only place people can get their multi-engine license is St. Charles or Overland, Kan., and they’re pretty expensive,” Downey said. “You don’t start out getting a pilot license for a double-engine. Most only have a single-engine (license). We’re offering a three-day course for about $2,700.”

On a normal day there’s no real difference in flying a single-engine versus a twin-engine airplane, Downey said. However, if one of those engines were to fail, especially during take off — the critical phase of flight — a significant problem would arise.

“If one of these engines fails there’s a whole lot of drag out there. The airplane is not going to fly right. If the propellers are still windmilling it’s like a big sheet of plywood,” Downey said of dual-engine planes. “If you lose the engine on a single, it basically becomes a glider and you get a little more latitude to bring it down in a field.”

A combination of a great pricing deal from Australia and the ability to offer a new service was the catalyst for Downey to pull the trigger on the planes, despite not being able to physically inspect them before the purchase.

“I wanted to expand the services, but when New Zealand went bankrupt the whole Australian economy took a dive, so we got these for 50-cents on the dollar,” he said. “We did have to pay to have them shipped and put together, but it was still a worthwhile investment.”

Downey said he relied on pictures and maintenance records, but once the planes were delivered reality sank in — as expected.

“What you see in pictures and print is a whole lot different than when you get them here. We had to replace some things, nothing major, the plastic pieces were like brittle. We had to put the wings and tail on, redo the interiors. They didn’t look anything like this,” Downey said. “It’s just kind of a cool story how they were built here, sent over there. Kind of full-circle now.”

Original article can be found here:  http://www.lakenewsonline.com

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