An Odyssey into Ownership (Part 2)
- From: Grumman 46U
- Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2007 12:19:52 -0600
Ah, gentle readers, when last we left the hangar while regaling you
with this tale, I had had my heart broken by a Tiger in Arizona and
was back on the prowl. Animals prowl because their patience with
being hungry is wearing thin, and that well might be an apt
description of my mindset at this point. Frustration is infiltrating.
Here's one that looks promising because it has many of the magic
descriptions I've decided were important. A Cheetah with a GNS-430, an
STEC 30 w/altitude hold, a Stormscope, 400-hour 160 HP
high-compression engine on a 4500-hour airframe. No damage history.
All log books from day one. The paint looks good in the pictures.
Ditto the interior. This one merits a call.
Two things intrigued me about the ad. First, that's what it was. AN
ad. Not an ad placed on all the usual suspects. It wan a single ad
placed on a single site. Second, in the body of the text was a very
interesting note: NO EXCUSES AIRCRAFT.
I called the owner on 30 January and "chatted" with him about the
airplane. He was very forthcoming, never hesitating when a question
was asked, and he had all the answers. It wasn't as though the answers
were concocted; we simply talked like old friends. I liked him, felt
that the plane was worth a commercial ticket, and asked if he were
willing to hold it until the weekend. He said that since I was coming
from Texas, he would and would also remove his ad temporarily to keep
traffic down. I felt good enough about this that I ordered a title and
337s search on the aircraft from AOPA to have in my notebook.
I flew to St. Louis on Friday, 2 February. It was polar opposites from
Arizona. And I do mean "polar" opposites. The OAT when I came out of
the airport terminal was 5-8 F, and the wind was a howling banshee.
Fully awakened, I took the Metro Link to the Sheraton. After stowing
my gear, I took refuge in the bar for an adult beverage, since the
owner and I didn't meet until Saturday morning. Of course, he called
at 4:30 and wanted to know if I wanted to look at the airplane now.
Now? It is 4 degrees out there, and it isn't my idea of fun to go
crawling under an airplane in bitter-cold temperatures. Don't worry
about it, he says, you can get under it tomorrow out in the sun. Well,
OK. I guess.
The airplane was hangared at KCPS (St. Louis Downtown), which I
understand is the third- busiest airport in Illinois. I don't know for
sure about that, but I can tell you it was one cold piece of concrete
that evening. We arrived at the airport having taken an instant liking
to one another and drove up to one of many nice hangars. Opening the
small, personal door to the side, I realized I'd been had. It was
beautifully lighted inside, and the temperature was about 55 degrees,
thanks to a large Janitrol heater high in one corner.
And there she sat. The cowls were open and everything was ready for
inspection. The airplane was even better looking than she appeared in
the photographs, and I was in love. Having been jilted once before,
however, I took a deep breath and said, "Honey, let's take it slow."
It became apparent that this encounter was why you exercise patience
(even when it isn't in your nature to do so) and pursue these things
with more reason than emotion, regardless of how difficult it is. But
reason is easier when you feel good emotionally, isn't it?
We went through everything he or I could think of. I inspected all the
areas I knew of that make or break Grummans, and he showed me a few
more. He also gave me a box containing all the airframe and engine
logs from day one and wanted me to read them that evening. After some
time removing plates, looking in crevices, checking gear, examining
the engine compartment, I had pretty well decided that this was my
bird. Slow, Michael, slow.
We talked about some things that were important to me. Why are you
selling after owning her only two years? Because I want to build an
RV10. Anything not work? Yes. The glideslope on the Narco 122.
Everything else works like a charm. And best of all, if you were I,
why shouldn't you buy this plane? Long pause. Then he said, I can't
think of a reason. I'm sold at this point.
The return to the hotel was a ride with old friends talking about
homes, wives, dogs, and flying. I read log books most of that evening.
We agree to meet in the morning and go flying. I'm excited.
We flew on that very windy Saturday, with 18 gusts 30 down the runway,
and had a great time. Everything worked as advertised. She is
beautifully equipped, trims out perfectly, tracks the GNS430
perfectly, and is a pleasure to feel beneath you. I agreed to buy it,
and we discussed how we were going to do it. I gave him a down
payment, and asked how he wanted to handle the balance. "Just bring a
check when you come to pick her up."
Needless to say, I didn't need Southwest to fly me home; I was flying
by myself just fine, thank youy very much. My wife was thrilled, which
made things even better.
When I got back down to floor level, I got back down to business. I
arranged insurance through AYA. I decided that the easiest--and most
sure--way to handle the transaction was to use AIC title services and
utilize their escrow at the same time. A call to the owner brought
instant approval. Discussing it on the telephone with AIC, all the
requirements were laid out, and the process began. I wired the
required amount of money, the leinholder was notified, the owner
provided the necessary paper work, and the deal closed Friday, 9
February, while I was in the air back to St. Louis and ready for the
adventure of flying her home.
That Friday night, my guru, the owner and his wife, and I had a lovely
dinner in a small bistro that my wife had discovered and researched on
the Internet. It was a memorable time, which sprinkled a little magic
dust on the whole odyssey.
My guru and I flew her out of St. Louis to South Carolina on Saturday,
and I started back to Texas the following Friday. Winds kept me in
Jackson, MS, until Sunday, when I flew home to be greeted with
champagne at the hangar. What a reception! Everything had worked as
advertised during all legs of the flight, and she flew like a dream.
Did this whole thing change my life? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that
I can now decide to go flying on a nice day, grab my wife, and be gone
in a tad over an hour. No in the sense that I still go about my life
essentially like I did before. Well, maybe there's a little more
spring in my step.
What did I learn? First and foremost, patience is not only a virtue,
it is a necessity when purchasing an airplane. It is very difficult to
walk away from something you want so much, but reason has to prevail
in order to assure your safety and that of your passengers.
Second, buying an airplane outfitted like you want it is considerably
cheaper than purchasing a barker, then adding things to it. This is
particularly true when it comes to the GNS-430/530s and autopilots of
Third, brokers need to be understood before dealing with them. They
may offer to buy an airplane sight unseen, then put it up for sale
knowing practically nothing about it. The broker I dealt with was
painfully honest about that with me, and while I was disappointed in
the airplane, I left with positive feelings about him. That trip
netted me a great Grumman learning experience and some time spent with
a dear friend and his wife who live in Arizona.
Fourth, there really are a lot of nice people out there. They turn up
in the oddest of places, too. They're honest, maybe not as smart as
you would like sometimes, but pretty upstanding folks. I decided that
once I made the decision to buy 46U, I'd call people to whom I
expressed more than passing interest in their airplanes and tell them
I'd purchased elsewhere; most appreciated that simple act and thanked
me for my consideration.
Fifth, there are some real crooks out there, too. They're pretty
obvious if you've done your homework, but one must be vigilant at all
Finally, I thought using the escrow service was good value received. I
felt confident that everything was being done correctly and as I
desired. They are very responsive to phone calls and never leave you
As I said before, this aviation community is surprisingly small. My
aircraft was owned prior to its St. Louis life by a man whose son
hangars in the same place I do. People at that airport (KHYI, San
Marcos, TX) know my aircraft on sight.
So that's my odyssey. I hope I didn't sound "preachy." I just thought
you all might have some interest in one way of doing it. Gotta close
the hangar for lunch.