This last April, it was finally time to bring our Douglas C-47 home and finish the trip that started last summer in southern England.  We recently completed a new storage facility that allowed us to make some room and get it inside.  I grabbed some of the crew from last summer and headed north to Oshkosh where we had left it on display in the EAA Museum.  By the time we arrived, it had been moved over to the Flight Research Hangar where we could begin working on it.

Back to a familiar place!

Once we got there, we did a quick survey of everything and got started.

About to begin!

Over the course of the next few days, we installed the charged batteries, re-installed the GPS, began inspections, did gear swings . . .

Preparing to cycle the Landing Gear

and began loading up what we needed to take home.

Loading up!

Once completed, we pushed it out into gorgeous weather to fuel it and prepared to make some smoke and noise.

Ready to Run!

The engines ran great and it looked as if we were getting close to flying.  The other pilot that crossed the Atlantic with me, Verne Jobst, was on stand-by a couple hours away but, unfortunately, had recently had some minor eye surgery and found out at the last minute he was not legal to make the trip.  Bummer!  I called Frank Moss in Florida, the father of Glen Moss, who had flown across the Atlantic with us last summer.  Frank and his kids run a DC-3 operation in Florida and is very qualified.  He was willing to help us and arrived the next day.

Unfortunately, after Frank arrived, we learned we were not legal to fly on the annual inspection we had done.  We needed to have an inspection program by approved our local Florida FAA!  This wasn’t something that was going to happen overnight.  Our only option was to request a ferry permit from the FAA to get home and sort out the proper paperwork later.  Unfortunately for us, it was Friday afternoon and the offices were closed!

Sadly, some of our crew went home the next day, as we could only legally fly with “essential crew only” on the ferry permit.  We hung around over the weekend making small tweaks to the airplane and visiting the EAA museum.  Monday morning came and we soon had our permit in hand.

We're legal!

Unfortunately, the weather was about to move in but not before we got a short flight in.  While the weather was somewhat marginal, everything checked out fine.

We got out the next day before more weather moved in but still had weather  south of us.  This forced us to head out across Lake Michigan to try and get around the east side of it.

Heading across Lake Michigan!

Crossing the last major water body from England, we dodged some weather in Indiana and eventually broke out into gorgeous weather.

Dodging weather in Indiana!

Flying through the mountains north of Atlanta

After about six hours of flying, we stopped for the night in Douglas, GA where we hooked up with some other warbird owners.  The next day was absolutely beautiful for our last leg to Fantasy of Flight.  We delayed our take-off to arrive in time for our daily Airplane of Day display at 1:30 pm.  Our Grand Arrival was greeted by many supporters and employees, as well as a couple of newspapers and news stations.

The final crew, finally home! Frank Moss, myself, and Wayne Root.

It was great to be home and I want to thank everyone that helped make our trip a successful and memorable one.  We met a lot of new friends along the way and each of us now has a lot of great stories to tell.

It’s interesting how life can be full of surprises.  Just over a year ago, I didn’t even know this airplane existed and now its safely on display at Fantasy of Flight.  A year ago, I never would have dreamed I would be crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a C-47 and would became the reason for me to finally get my instrument rating last January.

Pop, Pop, fizz, fizz . . . Oh, what a relief it is!

Once we get the final FAA approval, I’ll get my type-rating and look forward to showing it off!  One thing is for certain, this will be one adventure I will never forget!

Kermit

 

 

One of my mechanics recently found a really old spark plug in our spare parts that was apparently made by the “Wizard” Spark Plug Company.  He brought it to one of our aircraft meetings and presented it to me because of the “Wizard of Orlampa” title of a DVD years ago that’s for sale in our gift shop.

I immediately got the idea to create a little stand for it, which another mechanic made for me.  The spark plug combined with our mission statement, Light that Spark Within, now resides on my office desk!

 

A Wizard of an Idea!

Light that Spark Within refers to the potential that lies within each and everyone of us as it manifests into reality.  Kind of like the Universe coming from a Big Bang singularity.

Flight is the most profound metaphor of pushing our boundaries, reaching beyond ourselves, and freedom: not only in the world around us but also within, for we each, in our own way, can relate to reaching for sky and reaching for the stars as well as soaring in our imagination and flying in our dreams.  This will be the Fantasy of Flight future concept and product, where people self-discovery themselves for themselves through entertainment as they Light that Spark Within!  Now how cool is that!

Kermit

 

 

 

I recently got the opportunity to fly the Commemorative Air Force’s Boeing B-29 Fifi from Lakeland, FL to Tallahassee!  It was my third flight in a B-29 and my second flight in Fifi.  I had the opportunity to fly Fifi the first time when I was bringing my B-25 Mitchell Bomber home from California and stopped at the CAF show in Midland.  I’m a life-time member of the CAF and applaud them for what they do keeping their airplanes flying for the public and keeping the history alive.

On the ramp after Sun 'n Fun preparing to head north!

My first flight in a B-29 was in mine back in 1984 when we tried to move it inland from Oakland, CA and the salt air to Stockton, CA.  We were on a ferry permit but had a few problems about ten minutes after take-off and had to turn back.  In the end, it had some corrosion in the wing and I decided to disassemble it.  I later traded the US Air Force out of two spare airframes they had sitting at the China Lake NAS so we now have plenty of spares to help in the restoration.

Flying right seat in Fifi!

I’ll never forget taxiing out to the runway at Oakland on three engines because we were having trouble getting #3 started.  We thought we may have over-primed it so decided to taxi out and try to start it when we got out to the run-up area.  This time period was right after they had de-regulated the airlines and, as we cranked away trying to start the last engine, a large 747 airliner bound for Hawaii came taxiing by.  With smoke billowing from #3 as we cranked, a transmission came over the radio from the 747 querying Oakland ground control.  I could imagine the pilot peering down from his lofty perch with glasses down on his nose as he questioned, “Is this one of those new airlines that started up since the de-regulation?”  I cracked up, as even I thought it was funny!

My view from the co-pilot seat!

A few years ago I loaned the CAF one of our QEC’s (quick engine change).  They were doing a complete engine conversion to later engines and I think this was a nice way to repay me.  The new engines are really working well for them and I’m sure we’ll do the same when the time comes to restore ours, which unfortunately won’t be anytime soon.

On the flight to Tallahassee, I got to do the take-off and the landing and pretty much did all the flying.  Of course, we made a fly-by at Fantasy of Flight shortly after take-off.  The best way I can describe the experience is that it’s like flying the Empire State Building!

Kermit