Natrona County, Casper, WY, USA (KCPR) - December 2011

Air Spray L-188 Electra on Delivery from Honduras - Part 1
FAH-555 is an L-188 operated and owned by the Honduras Air Force that had been in open storage at Toncontin Airport for the past 13 years. This aircraft was listed on a Honduran Government auction site and came to Air Spray's attention via an internet search. L-188s are becoming a scarce commodity these days, and, after an inspection, Air Spray decided that the aircraft was worthy of a ferry flight to its maintenance headquarters at Red Deer in Alberta, Canada.

This particular aircraft (c/n 1028) started life with American Airlines in 1959 as 'Flagship Dallas' and was later leased to PSA for a couple of months in 1975. PSA eventually bought the aircraft in January 1978 and sold her to the Honduras Air Force in August 1979. For the ferry flight Canadian registration C-GNPB was allocated.

An Air Spray maintenance crew was sent to Honduras on 4 October 2011 to get the aircraft into an airworthy condition for the long ferry flight. Carl Waymann and Kevin Budd were down in Honduras for the majority of the time and some local personnel were also recruited to lighten the load on this huge task. The biggest hurdles were found to be the electrical system, the movement of parts into Honduras and sorting out the paperwork required for the aircraft to be de-registered in Honduras. To ease that last issue a local interpreter was also employed to overcome the language barriers when dealing with technicalities.

On 15 December 2011, after a couple of local ground runs and a single test flight, FAH-555 left Honduras for the last time, now registered in Canada as C-GNPB, on a flight to Brownsville, Texas. Two days later the longest leg planned to Casper, Wyoming, took place taking three hours and fifty-two minutes. The next flight was planned to continue to Calgary, Canada, to clear customs, but issues with the aircraft forced the crew into troubleshooting and delaying the departure for a couple of days.

I drove the five hours from Colorado to visit the crew on 19 December 2011, having to drive on black-ice part of the way north. A propeller regulator failure would have forced a three-engined ferry flight, which on its own would not have been a problem, except that a leaking oleo on the right undercarriage would have also required a wheels-down flight. One issue wouldn't have been enough to have stopped the flight, but both together wouldn't have been a good idea, and with the holiday period approaching and spares needed from Red Deer, Air Spray sensibly decided to pick up the crew with one of its Aero Commanders and re-visit the aircraft's issues when more time was available.

Delivery flight photos can be found on the January 2012 page.

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