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N39911, 1945 bc12-d

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  • N39911, 1945 bc12-d

    Hello, I’m glad to be part of the group. I hope my experiences and engineering time with Cessna will allow me to contribute to the benefit of all.

    I’m joining as the new owner of N39911, BC12-D, SN: 6564 and I’m currently located at 3GV. It is however a bittersweet ownership as she was my Father, Lee’s, since 1960 and he passed away suddenly this February. Some of you knew him and he considered you great friends. I’m one of the luckiest sons alive, my brother and I could not even in our wildest dreams have imagined a better father. He was amazing at being Dad, teacher, scoutmaster, outdoorsman, aviation advocate and of course aviator. He taught me to fly in 39911 and used her to fly to my PPL check ride in 1982.

    As I get reacquainted with her and her paper work I would like share a bit of the history of this now 70 year story of an airplane and my Dad. Combined, my Dad and now I have had her in the family for 80% of the time since she rolled off the line in July of 1945. Conformity papers were signed off on July 28th so I am assuming that she came off the line on 7/27 with W&B at a svelte 727 lbs. This will be my story as the 27th of July is my birthday, that’s what she weighed and I’m sticking to it. The logged test flights test were flown by P. H. Dietz on the 27th of Nov., one for 30 minutes and one for 10. Fortunately we do have all the logs & 337’s back to the first test flight except for the engine log prior to June, 1956.

    AW Certificate was issued 11/28/45, sold and signed for by Bernard Russ, VP. Taylorcraft Aviation Division, Detroit Air-Craft Products, Inc. to Critchfield Flying Services of Tecumseh, NE. Two ferry flights were needed to get to Tecumseh, 6 and 3.5 hours. The first pilot-owner bought it the next day, a Mr. W. H. Hilt with his bill of sale noting he was born on Nov. 1894 and a Student Pilot. However he must have not been as enamored with her as Dad was because he sold her less than six months later.

    Between 1946 and 1951 finding a long time hangar to call home was tough. It took nine owners to get to a partnership between Clarence Veach and Carl Spindle of Columbus, NE to have the same tie downs for more than two years at a time. Although most of that time was actually spent at Grand Island, NE with all those owners. Sale price listings were always $1.00 on the bills of sale. I do have paper work that the Solar Flying club paid $2400 in 1956. Even the factory bill is just a dollar and “other consideration”.

    Migrating to a new owner in Iowa in 1953 from Grand Island lasted only 150 days, then to Sigourney Flying Services who resold her to the only female owner listed, Joan Johnson. That lasted less than a month where upon William McKean of Des Moines became the proud new owner for two years. Then it was on to the Solar Flying Club of Des Moines in February of 1956; Solar FC is still in existence.

    Dad started to learn to fly in 1959 after dreaming about it since he was a toddler on his parent’s dairy farm in NE Iowa, Lamont. Lessons were at Oelwein, IA in Taylorcraft N26669. Next spring was the first introduction to N39911 during a one hour lesson on May 1st, 1960. He couldn’t fly again until June, 15th but this time it was two hours by himself in what would become the aircraft for a lifetime.

    Mr. Black of the Solar Flying Club sold it to Dad on June 28, 1960 for the sum of $1050 before he had earned his Private License with an airframe time of 607 hours. Of Dad’s two grandmothers, one was of the thinking, “if man was meant to fly…” the other loaned him the 50 bucks to seal the deal. Who do you think went for the first ride when he brought her home to the family farm?

    39911’s new home was in an open hangar with “thru the fence” access to the cow pasture landing strip with tall oak’s on both sides of the south end of the runway (serving as both end and width markers), a wet slough on the side in the middle to note “runway used” distance and it featured fine dairy cows as Turf Care Specialists. The Specialists more often than not needed to be persuaded to move to the side for departures and arrivals. The hangar, even though considered convenient by virtue of “thru the fence” location was not convenient to running water for aircraft washing because it was on the other side of the fence. On “good wind” days and when the corn was short or harvested Dad would land with the rows, making sure not to break stalks, taxi up close to the buildings, wash and then fly back to the hangar on the other side of the fence. Dad was a really good “Stick”, really smooth. Always said, “A first time, nervous passenger should not know what a control, trim handle or throttle does”.

    39911 had a role in making Mom think Dad might be a fine catch and it apparently worked. Because after his folks sold the dairy farm, relocation was completed to the new in-laws farm east of Lamont. The new runway was wider…some 75 feet between the planted corn, no bog in the middle, no trees and pretty flat. You did have to remember the power lines across the south end and that 50’ wall of limestone cliff in a quarry at runways-end to the north. This was finally the first long time home for 39911 and would prove to be so for the next 30 years. However the Turf Care Specialist title was transferred to guess who, when old enough to drive the mower? A “far as the eye can see” 1800 ft. strip is a lot of mower saddle time on a 36” cut but it happily earned airplane rides as kids.

    My first introduction to both flight and 39911 was when mom was two months pregnant. But I had to wait all the way until I was two for the next flight, how terrible of a wait was that! Dad had me flying as much as I could even when very young. We even made and tried stilts with notches to go around the rudder pedals but they didn’t work at all. I used her, a C150 & C172 to finally get my ticket at age 19 along with my cousin at the same time. Proving I could actually learn from my dad, I gave my future wife, Anne, her first ride in 1985 and we have been married nearly 22 years.

    Not much flying was done in the late 80’s as we lost mom to cancer. After Dad restarting flying it was getting quite evident a full restoration was needed. At 1510 total hours she was stripped bare to metal and wood, including a major on the engine. Restoration was completed after 10 years with the check flight on Christmas Eve and first flight was done with Dad on a very cold December 30 in 1999. The following summers were some of the best Dad ever had!

    A Sun-n-fun trip, then to Oshkosh 2001 winning a Bronze Lindy! Then Best Taylorcraft 2002 and cover of Trade-A-Plane in 2004. Then trips to both coasts and all over the country putting tach time at 3164.

    Dad happily remarried in 1990 to Linda and they flew everywhere all over the Midwest and in the lower 48. His logs include: visiting 43 states, over 2400 hours of flight time, most loops in a row, 3, highest flight, 14,000 ft., longest trips, western wagon trails trips to California and Washington. Including a gorgeous CAUV day flight down the Hudson River past the Statue of Liberty.

    He introduced many hundreds, maybe over a thousand people to the joys of flight. Those flights launched careers in aviation, mine at Cessna, my cousin’s with the FAA, others to commercial flight, instruction and airport FBO operation. Dad is truly missed by everyone that I know and I would gladly give the airplane back if I could have him back. Thanks to the local flying friends for doing the missing man formation flight over his internment and to Jim Zangger, long time best Taylorcraft friend, for flying “Green Three” 39911, as the missing man aircraft. It was a tribute he would have loved as he did many formation flights for Memorial Day and 4th of July parades.

    Hopefully I can continue his aviation legacy with mine, my brother’s family and this group. Thank you for letting me share our story.

    Maintenance logs and 337’s are pretty light but some interesting items are as follows:

    5/47. Avionics upgrade! New Motorola Airboy Receiver installed in RH glove box by persons unknown, Safe Flight Indicator, (2) Hot Shot batteries.

    The Safe Flight indicator is a stall warning install, it would have been one of that company’s first products. I have it and it still works! Safe Flight tech support did support my emails with drawings and info on it. My recommendations are to them for support as you would expect. And that buzzer is really annoying, original bulb works too; I never remember dad having it connected and that’s why.

    4/48. New, used metal prop. She was delivered with a Sensensich wood prop.

    4/49. Avionics & electrical upgrade. Removed old batteries, installed Pierson wind driven generator on wing strut, moved battery pack to back of seat and RCA AVT 112-A transmitter to the front of seat. AND installed "wheel streamlines" as per 337 dated 4-30-49. New wheel pants to look good, I still have and use them. But E.W. is up to 775 lbs. Placarded to 5 lbs baggage and NO wing fuel with passenger.

    4/50. Avionics down grade. Removed following equipment: Power Pack, battery, battery box, transmitter, generator & receiver. Weight is back down to 733, weight placards removed.

    4/52. Avionics upgrade. Installed adjustment knob on sensitive altimeter and Motorola Airboy back in. Interesting log note, “McCauley 1A90 CF 7443 SN: 14725 Prop has been installed by parties unknown at a net increase of 16 lbs. See 337 this date”. Weight now up to 753.

    9/55. First full recovering of the aircraft, Horizontals and Stabs were done two years prior.

    Yikes! 1956. Someone put her on her back. Repair bent prop. Straighten upper cabin cross members and upper vertical and rudder. R&R upper wing fabric, refinish spars, install new right, rear spar. New outer RH 3 wing ribs and new inboard 2 compression ribs and new RH outboard LE skins. Fabric covered with 8 coats nitrate & 4 coats silver dope. Solar Flying Club was owner at this time.

    4-58. Engine Major @ 1117.35 hrs.

    10/60. Repaired 2nd rib inboard from LH wing tip, patched fabric. Repaired left aileron at same location and patched fabric. Hmmm, Dad never mentioned this. Fencepost? Boy, did he drill safe taxi practices into me as a kid and never quit teaching (thanks!).

    8/71. New recovering. Never a mention of when the position lights were removed or removal of the 2nd install of the Airboy radio although panel wiring was declared “un-airworthy unless repaired” in 1956. Logs were updated as to removal by persons unknown. I have the original vertical fin light, wing tips lights are lost. Lights will go back in on next recover.

    9-72. Top overhaul @ 1733 hrs. 2/82. Top overhaul @ 2063.35 hrs.

    12/99. Goal, full award winning restoration, Superflite 102 fabric. Juneau White and Sacramento Green. Stall warning and ammeter removed and replaced with vertical speed indicator and G-meter. Slick Mags. Maule tail wheel. Major overhaul on engine & new Millennium cylinders @ 2291 hrs. All AD’s complied with. (1174 SMOH.)

    11/14. Engine Major @ 3813 hrs. (1522 SMOH, might have made 1800 but had week cylinder.)

    7/28. Today, 70th anniversary of manufacturing conformity. >3870 airframe hours.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Mark Bowden; 07-28-2015, 09:43.
    1945 BC12-D
    N39911, #6564

  • #2
    Re: N39911, 1945 bc12-d

    Wow. Great History! I'm sorry to hear about your dad passing. Welcome to the tribe.
    Tim Hicks


    • #3
      Re: N39911, 1945 bc12-d

      I have seen your dad at an AOPA FAA sponsored seminar about 8 years ago at Kirkwood college in Cedar Rapids Iowa , I have also seen his (your beautiful airplane) at The Island fly in on Labor Day weekend at Guttenburg Iowa a few years back.


      • #4
        Re: N39911, 1945 bc12-d

        Saw your dad and his airplane at LaGrange TX fly-in about 2005. I still remember his beautifully embroidered Taylorcraft shirt. Sorry to hear he's passed. Like you, I am a second generation caretaker of two airplanes (not Taylorcraft) I inherited from my dad. Plus, l bought the Taylorcraft dad owned when I was a kid. He taught me to fly in it and I later helped him restore it. Many fond memories. It is an honorable responsibility to carry on the legacy and perhaps pass it on to the next generation. Will you be at Blakesburg? Hope to meet you. When and what was your engineering role at Cessna? I was in Wichita at Learjet as a Powerplant and Fuel systems engineer on the model 45 during the flight test program from 1996 thru 2000. Sounds like we share more in common than our last name.
        Terry Bowden
        Last edited by barnstmr; 07-30-2015, 03:40.
        Terry Bowden, formerly TF # 351
        Consultant D.E.R. Powerplant inst'l & Engines
        Vintage D.E.R. Structures, Electrical, & Mechanical Systems
        BC12D, s/n 7898, N95598
        weblog: Barnstmr's Random Aeronautics


        • #5
          Re: N39911, 1945 bc12-d

          Add to my last post my condolences for your father