“Charlie” is a 1947 Stinson aircraft that is operated by Aimee and Jason as they travel, train, and have adventures in flying. This page will detail the story of Charlie as Aimee and Jason spend time in the air and as her caretaker.
Posts will be made of adventures, challenges, triumphs, and just cool moments with Charlie. We promise to update this with as much information as we can about this vintage aircraft and as much enjoyable flying she affords us.
A few interesting/useful documents related to the Stinson aircraft –
Check this page periodically to see their travels with Charlie.
- RTS Charlie
Dateline 6-7-2020 – 1 Year to the Day Charlie had a “Hiccup”.
Happily, after much work, Charlie has returned to her hangar after some successful flight tests, after much work!
A freshly overhauled carburetor (that really seemed to need it by the amount of crap that was found in it and the sticky float), 5 cylinders off and reworked, and multiple attempts at working intake leads that went with all this work and it was time to again try to bring Charlie back home.
A friend picked me up with his Stinson and we headed down to KBEH where we arrived to find that one of our fellow pilots down there (under the guidance of our mechanic) was doing one more test flight before we got there. Charlie was currently level at 10,000 MSL and headed back home!
Escorted home from KBEH to 35D, fellow Stinson owner and friend Bruce managed to capture a picture in the air with Lake Michigan in the background, proving that flight did again happen for Charlie. Even better, with me successfully at the controls again.
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- Charlie Visits a New Airport, Stays a Bit, and is Getting a Little Maintenance.
Sometimes, it’s better to put a plane on the ground.
It can be a hard decision, but on a recent Friday it was the exact right decision.
Flying around for the afternoon with a friend in Charlie, we found ourselves near a beautiful grass strip (24M) northwest of Grand Rapids, MI when we experienced a loss of power.
It wasn’t a big loss, only a couple hundred RPM. But Charlie just wouldn’t push full power anymore.
She was still running smooth and a quick check of carb heat and magnetos showed no change. But something just felt wrong. So, being by an airport, we made a landing and gave it a little more run up on the ground to try to see if anything else could be identified.
Getting late in the day and with no problem solution immediately available, we started calling friends for a ride back home after deciding to leave Charlie for at least one overnight of camping at a new airport.
While we waited for a ride, we were greeted by a resident of the airport who was extremely helpful, even getting Charlie a spot in a hangar on the field the next day for us as I worked to get back to Charlie with a mechanic to see what we could find. Aviation really is a pretty special community. When someone needs help, I have with extreme rare occasions not found it readily offered when available.Continue reading →
- RTS with an April Fools Day Annual – Charlie Flies into 2019….
RTS – Returned to Service Charlie.
Well, winter is long in Michigan, and there is no rush to get an annual done when you drop the plane off to your mechanic at the end of January and it is just going to snow another month. So…we finally got it all done with an April 1 sign off for this flying season. The weather, my free time, and a relenting from the cold I have been fighting finally cooperated and let me go bring Charlie home for this season’s flying efforts.
Nothing too major was wrong, a couple of new cylinder studs, a new set of spark plugs all around just for good measure, a fuel selector seal replacement, a modification to remove one more reoccurring AD to name a few minor tweaks to go with a GLASS panel (kind of) upgrade. You can see it down in the bottom left of the panel.
A new Dynon D3 digital attitude and heading indicator serves as a replacement for the formerly inoperative heading indicator that I had and I also chose to remove the gyro attitude indicator. Both of these were venturi driven instruments and not completely reliable, so, for this VFR only airplane the Dynon box offers a digital option that would also have a backup battery option in the event of an electrical failure.Continue reading →
- Charlie Checkrides (2018)…
Why drive when you can fly? Especially when you are going to an airport anyway!
I didn’t do it every time I could over the past year, but one of the reasons we bought Charlie was to make the travel between airport easier when I was conducting FAA practical tests.
Like any good pilot, I kept logs, and tracked what I did. Well, not only as a pilot, but so I could also give the data to my accountant at the end of the year to see if any of the costs associated with travel to and from practical tests could be leveraged for any taxiing benefits also. You can deduct mileage, why not flight time, right? Well, at least some of the costs can be he tells me. But I digress.
Curious what the total at the end of the year would be, I tallied it up, graphed it, and found that Charlie and I spent a little time together over the year!
Totaling over 34 hours and travelling over 1600 miles, Charlie spirited me across the Michigan, and even a little Indiana, countryside from above to where I provided my services as a FAA Designated Pilot Examiner.
The only drawback, when you fly to an airport it is hard to run out at lunch and get some food…I expect if I tried to taxi to a nearby deli or restaurant with Charlie it wouldn’t go unnoticed or be very successful.
I know that the use of the aircraft saved time over the travels of the year. In some cases, it was the catalyst that allowed more than one test to take place in the same day due to the reduced travel time between two airports that were a significant distance apart. Aircraft are truly time machines.
Oh, and they are just darn fun to fly also. So, with that said, and without getting too esoteric here, Charlie gave me a year with some rather enjoyable transits.Continue reading →
- Charlie “Checkup”
Whenever you send a new aircraft for its first maintenance work after you buy it, it is always a fear that you are going to find a bunch of things that need attention, and as a result, can get expensive. So, when we sent Charlie to a mechanic friend of mine a little over a month ago to address an AD inspection, one that we thought was not actually applicable and for which we wanted to eliminate the need to inspect it on a recurring basis, with a little nervousness, we also asked the mechanic to, “give her a look over and see if there is anything else that should be fixed.”
Asking a mechanic what else they would like to fix on any vehicle is a scary, open-ended invitation to make that inspection open all kinds of Pandora’s box moments. But having a good mechanic I trust, we also wanted to know if there was anything lurking that should be addressed.
The AD we wanted to address was an old one, one that required inspection of the carburetor linkage every 25-hours. A frequent AD such as this is certainly a detractor in the regular use of an aircraft, and we suspected it had been made exempt many years ago, but the last two annual inspections had written it up as still applicable.Continue reading →
- Selling the Dream of Flying in a Past Era – Insights from an old airplane marketing brochure.
Showing a pilot looking out the slid back window, soaring above clouds, with what would appear to be “the kids” in the back seat, the “great new Stinson Voyager” presents itself as the plane for the “everyman” (and I mean no disrespect to its applicability to women also, but consider the time, it wasn’t the market that was being targetted just yet).
Finding the original 1947 brochure that was presented for buyers with the documents from Charlie was one of many small treasures that gives a historical perspective on the aircraft we are now learning more about. The document is in wonderful shape and shows the detail and presentation given to extolling the virtues of this aircraft to a would be 1947 pilot purchaser who might consider all the benefits of adding a Stinson to the family set of vehicles.
The quality of the presentation is amazing. It is somewhere between a professional children’s book and a professional sales brochure. It sells what the manufacturer though would be valued at the time by the buyer and his family. Looking through it gives us an insight into a different time in aviation, and American, history.
I couldn’t look through this without wanting to share it for the historical perspective on an aircraft that has managed to live in varying degrees of relevance and utility for now 70 years.
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- A new home, and new life (for Charlie).
The 545am weather check showed major improvement from the day before, so it was time to get up and get on the way for the last leg of the trip to bring Charlie back to her new home, Allegan, Michigan for the next adventures that she would share with us.
The morning found Charlie on a chilly ramp, with the temperature hovering just above freezing. I was expecting a hard start with a cold engine, but I wasn’t expecting it to be an even harder start due to the rookie mistake that I had made when we left Charlie two days earlier.
What was that rookie mistake?
Ugg, I had left the master switch on and we now had a dead battery.
Fortunately, the helpful folks at Byerly Aviation in Peoria were quick to offer assistance of a jump start, and also, fortunately, the battery is in a position that is easy to get at in this old Stinson.
With some extra power, Charlie’s engine again came to life and we were able to head off on our way as the morning sun arose in the east and we headed toward it, inching ever closer to home with every minute.Continue reading →
- First Journey with Charlie…almost home.
So, the plan to get home looked like this. Unfortunately, the storms to the west moved in on Saturday evening, and by the time we were to leave on mid-morning Sunday, they covered most of the route, so it changed a bunch! In fact, we didn’t stop at any of the airports we originally planned to have on the route.
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- Adopting “Charlie”
I don’t think anyone really gets to own an airplane. Instead, I think you become a caretaker of a machine with a soul. You adopt it, become its protector and promoter and if you do a good job it takes you on adventures. Yesterday we adopted “Charlie”.
Charlie is a 1947 Stinson 108-1, who has had a bunch of upgrades and was originally born in February of 1947 in Wayne, Michigan. She turned 70 years old this year.
She lived most of her life with a couple of owners in Michigan. Beginning in 1977, she sat for many years without use. In 1994 a new caretaker decided it was time for her to be rebuilt.
With an extensive effort, by 1995 she was again ready to fly with new fabric, a bunch of upgrades, and a new engine. She served her new caretaker well from what we can tell from the logbooks but eventually transitioned to new homes. A short stint in Florida, then to her most recent home in Palestine, TX, where we met her most recent caretaker. Brian Rucker.
We arrived in Palestine, TX to find Charlie tucked into the back of Brian’s hangar, ready for a new adventure.
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