Purchasing the Wingster Airplane – Update
Offer Accepted. Now that I got that out of the way, I’ll tell you how it all went down. I have been using the major airplane listing agencies to track the 195’s that are on the market. After doing my research, the pool of possible candidates was quickly narrowed to 5, now this is roughly half of what is on the market, so I didn’t narrow myself too much in the beginning. First, there was a 195B model in Santa Monica. This one made the list because it was a 6 minute flight from me and made for an easy education. The second one was a 195, model not really known, in Salinas. Again, only a short flight from home, well worth the fuel to look at it. The next three were in Wyoming, Florida and Minnesota. With all three being an airline flight away, I was really going to have to do my homework. I don’t have the time or finances to be galavanting around the states to fly some really fun airplanes.
These three airplanes were distinctly different in equipment and price. The Florida airplane was listed for about $85K, Minnesota for about $100K and Wyoming for about $120K. They were all “B” models which is what I was looking for, more flaps, more power, all good. Florida was the least equipped, inline with the price and to be honest this was the airplane I was most interested in. Wyoming had something that was strange with a modification that was done in the 50’s, this I was going to look into more before I flew out to see it. Finally I called on Minnesota, which was my third choice. It was the most equipped of the three, which I wasn’t looking for, I wanted to install my own radios and interior and any airplane I purchase will be painted immediately, so paint is not of value to me. But, when I called on this airplane and talked to the owner, I instantly knew I was talking to someone that knew these airplanes. I wasn’t talking to a broker that didn’t know the airplane, I wasn’t talking to the friend of an owner that was just trying to help a sick friend free up some finances, I was talking to a guy that obviously loved his airplane. His reasons for selling it will stay his, all I know is I could hear his pain at the thought of letting the airplane go.
After the 1 hour phone call I wanted to go and look at this plane immediately, I felt if I didn’t get out there, someone was going to snatch this airplane out from under me. Little did I know at the time, the airplane had been tied up for 6 weeks in a deal and had just come back on the market after that deal fell through. It was Thursday and I wanted to take a Friday or Saturday flight. Unfortunately, when I started pricing airfare it was going to be $800-1000 roundtrip. This slowed down my process a little, I just couldn’t justify going out there for $800+ dollars without doing more research on the airplane from home. I emailed the owner and asked him to send me all the photos and information
he had. I also told him that I was planning on coming out but that I needed to book my ticket a little farther out in order to obtain better fares. He emailed me back shortly later to let me know he was a 747 captain and that I could have a buddy pass if I wanted to come see the airplane. A $270 buddy pass was something I could justify and so I planned on leaving the next night on the midnight flight to Minnesota.
Someone should have reminded me that it was spring break week. I don’t have any children so I regularly forget when the school holidays are. The midnight flight was overbooked and I didn’t get on. I went home, got a few hours sleep and went back to the airport at 4:30am in an attempt to catch the 6:10am flight. This flight had 35 seats available, unfortunately I was number 49 on the standby list, Bumped again. Ok, I can still be there by noon if I catch the 9:30am flight – denied. At this time, with the sellers help, I decided to jump a flight to Phoenix and try to make a connection from there. This worked, sort of. I caught a 10:00am flight to Phoenix and started looking for connections from there to Minneapolis. 11:45 flight to Minneapolis, Nope. 1:30 flight to Minneapolis, sorry – full. This was not fun. At this point the seller was feeling really bad because he recommended I go to Phoenix instead of staying near my house in Los Angeles. If I didn’t get on a flight, I would be nowhere near the airplane and still paying for hotels. The seller called in a favor from one of his airline friends and got me another Buddy pass on one of his competitor airlines. I tried one more flight on his airline at 2:30 and then I headed to the other terminal to catch a 3:30 flight. Finally, I was on an airplane heading to Minneapolis.
I arrived in Minneapolis at about 7:00pm, I wasn’t going to make it out to the airplane that late so I decided to bunk down near the airport and relax after a long travel day. Just after I got the keys to my rental car the seller called, “Hey Michael, glad you made it, what would you like to do?” I knew that he lived 45 min away, so I told him that I was just going to check into my hotel and relax. He then informed me he was already on his way and invited me to dinner. He also offered to give me the airplane logbooks so I could start my review. Wow, this was really awesome, I didn’t get to see the airplane but at least I could start the logbook review. We had dinner near my hotel and he continued to tell me the story of the airplane.
After dinner I went back to the hotel with 10 pounds of logbooks to dive into my review. I got about 2 hours in that night before I decided to go to sleep. When the sun came up I was so excited to see the airplane that I was instantly awake, unfortunately, the weather was 500 feet overcast, not good for our type of flying, so I brewed a cup of coffee and dove back into the logs. After another 3 hours with the books I couldn’t take it anymore, I packed up and headed for his local airport to see the airplane. 30 minutes later, when I was approaching the airport I called the seller to let him know I was getting close. He informed me that he was about to fuel the airplane and asked me to meet him at the pump. As I parked the car I saw the airplane for the first time in real life. It was so much better than the pictures can convey. It must be 7+ feet tall at the front and it was standing there proud, my heart rate literally went up, I was pumped to fly this airplane.
I introduced myself the the seller and he was very welcoming, he immediately started to proudly tell me all about his airplane, he told me about everyone that has worked on it and anything he thought it could possibly need. We talked for an hour or so while the clouds burned off and then it was time to go flying. We started out with the seller in the left seat and me along for the ride in the right seat. We departed to the Northeast and flew at a altitude of 1000 feet above the ground. Fifteen minutes later we were approaching a small uncontrolled airport. We made our approach and landed then we taxied back to the runway and departed for a lap in the pattern. A few minutes went by and we were touching down again on the same runway. The seller was happy with his landing and decided it was time for me to fly. We switched seats, briefed our departure and my heart rate went up again, it was now my turn to fly his beautiful airplane. My departure was not the smoothest ever but it was successful. I was flying N3050B for the first time. It was a mixture of pure exhilaration, terror and wonderment.
He pointed me in a direction and I flew without question, so much was going through my head. I have never flown one of these airplanes before, I didn’t want to embarrass myself or make any mistakes. In just a matter of minutes he was pointing out the runway, if you can call it that, which we were going to land on. It was 2500 feet of grass with tall power lines at the approach end. Oh my goodness, my first landing in a 195 was going to be on a short grass runway with real obstacles, it was time to concentrate with everything I had. Power back, turn final, judge height and speed, everything looked good, make small adjustments, continue over the power lines, reduce power smoothly to idle, gently touchdown about a third down the runway, keep it strait and slow it down. I couldn’t believe it, my first landing was actually really good, all of my training kicked in and I flew the airplane all the way to a stop and it worked as planned. What a magic experience that I will never have again, my first landing in a Cessna 195, I will never forget it.
I did two more laps at that grass runway and then we headed back to his home airport. We were only gone for a little over an hour but this experience is something that will stay with me for the long haul.
We parked the airplane and started the next task, taking off the cowling, several wing panels and the baggage compartment panels so I could inspect the airplane for damage and corrosion. I spent a couple hours doing this and was fortunate not to find anything major. Even though this airplane is 60 years old, the engine was last overhauled in 2008 and the airframe has been well taken care of over the years and repaired as needed. We put the airplane together and I was sold, I knew this was the airplane for Wingster and I now had to negotiate the best deal I could.
The seller knew what he had and he knew I wanted it. The negotiation only took 20 minutes, we worked out the fine points and shook hands, offer accepted.
The only thing that stands between Wingster and this airplane is the pre purchase (annual) inspection. I will explain later why I have chosen to have an annual done instead of a pre purchase.
So much to do, so little time. My goal is to have this airplane equipped, painted, tested and in attendance at Oshkosh 2012 July 23rd through 29th. Stay tuned for updates on the progress.