By Mike Davenport, EAA 89102, Langley, British Columbia
This particular Fairchild 24, serial number 3315, was built in 1938 and flown by some 18 owners until it finally went out of service when in need of restoration in California in 1979. Werner Griesbeck, EAA 108746, bought it and brought it home to Canada. After 12 years of dedicated work, he flew it in 1991, totally restored to better-than-new condition*.
For many years it was used often and used well to give hundreds of Young Eagles rides, for many family trips all over the West Coast, and once to that mecca we know as OSH. However, it was also used for fun and for some of the plain goof-off trips for the legendary $100 hamburger. It was also a consistent award winner wherever it was displayed; in Arlington, Washington; Merced, California; Oshkosh, or Hood River, Oregon.
It has even served at least once as a vehicle to spread ashes over the Fraser Valley, including those of our good friend Jim McRae who had often come along on many of the trips while flying his Champ. Unfortunately, his flying days were over.
Today the last chapter was written on a story of a man and one of his deepest passions. It is said that while time waits for no man and as our health is a fragile thing, some things just have to get done. In this case, it was time to let it go.
The airplane had been sold and was taken south to its new owner in Kentucky a couple of months earlier and while that is a story of its own, the spares finally left today. This is the conclusion of a story that has taken years to play out.
This month in the midst of the pandemic on both sides of the border, arrangements were finally sorted out. Customs brokers who would deal with private individuals rather than large corporations were finally located and the paperwork completed. Thus we were able to put the last load of Fairchild parts on a truck headed for its new owner in the eastern U.S. The boxes contained everything from an overhauled spare Ranger engine, plus spares of almost every kind from fairings to cylinders. It was a massive undertaking just to clean out everything Werner had accumulated over some 40 years. It took Werner and his friends many weeks to pack all of the “stuff.”
A forklift was borrowed and driven over from the east side of the airport by a volunteer who did all the heavy lifting. And almost quicker than you can say it, it was done.
So how will Werner fill in his time? Well, between his cancer treatments, he’ll finish the Porterfield — though some say it will never be “done” as something could always be a little bit better — like the # +(*&%$# brakes for example and why won’t the carb stop flooding after the shop said it was perfect? Werner is a “type A “personality who will always find things to do.
*For more detail on both Werner and the Fairchild, check my book People, Places and Planes published by Coast Dog Press.