Airplane GEEK

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Bits and Pieces: If Our Aircraft Could Talk, Oh What Stories…

By Jack Neima, EAA 413636, EAA Canadian Council

Our general aviation sector is populated by lots of interesting people but also interesting aircraft. Our airplanes are unique vehicles because many of them have long and often interesting histories that sometimes go way back and are well-documented due to the requirement to keep detailed logbook records. So, how about sharing some of these stories and unlocking secrets from the past to tell where our beloved airplanes have come from and some of the interesting things that have happened along the way — whether the airplane came from a box kit, emerged from a set of plans or from a factory in some far-off place. There must be some interesting stories out there and it would be neat to hear some of them. There’s no rush to publish them all quickly, but if over the winter we get to hear more about these interesting machines it will be entertaining.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I’ll kick it off with some of the interesting past of my 1939 Piper J-3 Cub, CF-XVW.

bits and pieces if our aircraft could talk oh what stories Airplane GEEK Bits and Pieces: If Our Aircraft Could Talk, Oh What Stories…
The author with his J-3 Cub at his home base

CF-XVW was “born” at the Piper factory in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, on 2 August, 1939, and started life with American registration NC24678. It was classified as a J3-F50, meaning it was originally equipped with a 50-hp Franklin engine. The “J” in J-3 recognizes Walter Jamouneau’s involvement in the design and production at Piper of what was previously known as the Taylor Cub. NC24678 was signed off by Walter Jamouneau himself on 5 August, 1939, and flew off the same day to its first owner in Cleveland, Ohio. The sale price was $1,059.25 and was financed by the Interstate Credit Corporation with monthly payments of $88.27. Over the next 81 years it changed hands 31 times until coming into my possession in late 2001 and I am by far the longest owner. There are numerous records of owners who only held title for a few weeks or months and in some cases title was passed on to the next owner before the registration caught up from the previous sale. In one case it appears the previous owner never actually flew the aircraft at all.

NC24678 found its way to Mankato, Minnesota, in May 1940 and it bounced around the U.S. Midwest, mostly in Iowa and Minnesota, until 1968 when it was imported to Canada at Steinbach, Manitoba. During its time in the Midwest, it lived a rough and tumble life with a number of scrapes and bangs requiring rebuilds and repairs including wing spar splices and replacements. It was also repossessed in 1959 by a credit union because the owner failed to make even the first payment on a financing agreement. The repossession resulted in a sale at public auction and it changed hands again for the princely sum of $200.

One of the more interesting aspects of NC24678’s history was its seizure in 1943 by the Defense Plant Corporation, an arm of the U.S. government, and it was pressed into service during World War II as a trainer in LeMars, Iowa. Civilian aviation was greatly curtailed during the war and the government had the power to direct all resources to support the war effort. Unfortunately, the airplane spent only a couple of months in uniform before it experienced an accident that among other things required the replacement of one wing. The records show it was returned to the previous owner and classified as “Badly Damaged” and the owner was required to apply for permission from the government to repair it to airworthy status. It wasn’t long before another accident occurred, requiring another wing replacement and the airplane was sold for $600 in the damaged condition. After the war, it was back in the air and went through several engine changes, first to a Continental 65-hp, then a Franklin 60-hp, and eventually to a C-85 which remains its current configuration and which makes it a superb performer.

bits and pieces if our aircraft could talk oh what stories Airplane GEEK Bits and Pieces: If Our Aircraft Could Talk, Oh What Stories…
XVW on skis in snowy Manitoba

After importation to Canada in 1968 and now registered as CF-XVW, the airplane lived a much more trouble-free life, including some time on skis and EDO 1320 floats, mostly in southern Manitoba where it went through a ground-up restoration in 1994 and took up residence at the Lyncrest Airport in Winnipeg. It was a “hangar queen” from the rebuild until I purchased it in 2001, logging only a dozen hours since the rebuild. I lived in Winnipeg at the time and flew it, on wheels and skis, out of Lyncrest until I retired in 2011 and moved home to Nova Scotia. In May 2011, I flew XVW from Winnipeg to its new temporary home at Stanley, Nova Scotia, and it was an experience of a lifetime — a story in itself that will wait for another day.

bits and pieces if our aircraft could talk oh what stories 1 Airplane GEEK Bits and Pieces: If Our Aircraft Could Talk, Oh What Stories…
XVW on floats

In 2017, I fulfilled a long-held dream of flying from home when I put XVW back on its EDO 1320 floats and flew it to my property on Porters Lake, Nova Scotia, where it now resides in its new shoreline hangar. Over the past four summers I’ve been fortunate to log an average of about 40 hours per year and the airplane now has about 3,900 hours since new with about 600 of those in my logbook since 2001. The airplane provides me with more enjoyment than I have a right to, and I am thankful for every opportunity I have to fly it.

bits and pieces if our aircraft could talk oh what stories 2 Airplane GEEK Bits and Pieces: If Our Aircraft Could Talk, Oh What Stories…
XVW on wheels and flying

So, that’s the story of CF-XVW. What’s your airplane’s story? Let’s see who can come up with the most entertaining aircraft history. You can send it in to newsletter.eaacc@gmail.com.


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