Friday, May 20

{CoffeeShop Family Flying Circus Adventures}: Chapter 3, "Salvage Yard Queen"

Interested to read more of the {CoffeeShop Family Flying Circus Adventures}?


We had been shopping for a family plane for close to a year. After driving all of the way to East Texas to look at the "perfect" aircraft only to find out it was a "Hanger Crash Queen", we decided to take a little break from plane shopping. 

But that didn't keep us from visiting local airports. Every nice weekend we would head out in our car to watch airplanes with the boys. And it was a lot of fun.

But I was still keeping an eye out on local aircraft ads and one day came across a Piper 1973 Challenger for sale that met my three major requirements (decent engine, no major damage history, all logs). It also was fully decked out with a GPS and autopilot, local, and priced to sell.

I called up the owner and he told me that he bought two planes recently for his daughter; a 172 Cessna (high-wing plane) and the Piper Challenger (low-wing plane). She was training to be a pilot and apparently had a generous dad.

He said that she preferred flying the Cessna so he wanted to sell the Piper. I asked my normal questions and everything seemed great until I asked him about the " No major damage history" part of his ad. After being burned the last time I wanted confirmation that a hanger had not fallen on the plane.

He told me that it had no "major" damage history, and when I tried to follow up on the "major" part he suddenly had to get a call. Interesting. So there was damage history, just nothing he considered major. And he didn't want to discuss it, which is a major warning bell.

I need to count how many times I used the word "major" in this post. I majorly like the word "major".

We decided to go ahead and look at the Piper since it was only 30 minutes away. If he was being cagey that was a problem, but we would look over the plane and the logbooks.

The aircraft was quite nice with a brand-new shiny paint job and a completely new interior. However, it had several instrument upgrades that should have made this plane much more expensive than the listed price, which gave me some major pause.

I snuck in another "major". Did you notice?

Why was he selling this plane so cheaply? Was it simply because he was rich and wasn't concerned about losing money or was something "off" with this Piper?

I called the owner from the plane and confirmed he had all of the logbooks on site and told him I wanted to see them. Then I questioned him again about the damage history.

"So you mentioned there was no "major" damage history, but has there been some minor damage history?" I knew the brand-new paint job/interior could be hiding something.

He paused and said "There hasn't been any major damage history, the plane is in great shape." Then he changed the subject. Again.

I was getting frustrated AND suspicious, so I decided to Google the N-number of the plane with "plane wreck, damage" in the search and instantly got a hit on the Texas Air Salvage site.

!!! Major Damage History Alert !!! 

 I clicked on the link and up popped some images of a decrepit, peeling paint, hail-damaged, flat tire, original torn and filthy 70's interior-Piper Challenger stored in a SALVAGE HANGER.

This is not the actual plane, but as I did not bookmark the site I wanted give you an idea of what the Piper looked like at the salvage yard. OK, maybe I am exaggerating a bit as the plane did have wings still attached, but that aircraft looked unflyable. My spell check keeps on changing that to "unflappable", which is not the feeling I experienced when I saw the photos...

I read up on the "Salvage Yard Queen" and found it had been totaled by an insurance company after being badly damaged in a major ;-) hail storm. It was obvious by the orange and avocado green paint colors and interior fabrics colors that they were original from the 70's. This plane had been sitting outdoors, unloved, in horrible weather for a LONG time. 

The current owner had obviously purchased the plane for cheap (did I mention it was from a SALVAGE YARD???) and cleaned her up nicely.  But I personally think a plane that was totaled by an insurance company and purchased in a salvage yard has major damage history. 

Standing there I did some more research on my phone and found out that the owner of this plane sells planes for a living. So his "story" of purchasing this plane for his daughter to train in was most likely a complete lie.

Another "used car salesman"... 

Paul and the boys were excitedly looking over the instrument panel as I went over there to tell them the sad news. Needless to say, Paul was disappointed but not surprised. We both knew that there had to be a reason that this Piper was priced so low. 

We locked up the plane, got back in our car and headed home. 

I turned to Paul and said "Plane shopping has to be the worst shopping in the world. Are we ever going to find a decent plane we can afford?"

We looked at each other and just had to laugh. When the owner called me later that evening I wanted to confront him and call him a Liar-McLiar, but I realized that it would be a waste of my time. I told him we would think about it. And next week the listing was gone, so someone purchased the "Salvage Yard Queen". Better them than us.

And we were back to looking at the aircraft ads, again... But I have to confess we spent many an hour fondly reminiscing about our crazy airplane shopping adventures!

To continue reading about our adventures, Read Chapter 4 "The Texas Gooney Bird Flies Home!"

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1 comment:

  1. My goodness, it is a good thing you had the wherewithal to delve deeper into why he was so freakin' dodgy.

    Better luck next time. I'm sure the perfect plane is out there waiting for your guys somewhere!

    Lisa D.


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