Living in Arkansas I have often felt like I live in a bit of an aviation void. For a city as large as Little Rock there just isn’t much compared to cities of similar size. We have a small national airport that has Southwest 737s as its biggest commercial client. I work at the Air Force Base so I get more than my fair share of C-130s, and the occasional fighter that zings by on its way to somewhere else, but it is hard to really get excited about much around here.
After a little searching I also learned that Beechcraft has a facility here, as well as Dassault which does all of its finishing for its US customers here in Little Rock. I am planning on getting a tour of that facility in January so standby for that. But even with these finds I have still felt a major void when it comes to aviation. Then a few months back I heard about a story on the radio that got my Avgeek senses buzzing.
They said there was a DC-3 that was recently purchased by someone at the North Little Rock Airport that they were planning to restore. I was super excited, but then life just got busy and I had to delay my pursuit of what is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. After seeing the beauty that was restored at Historic Flight Foundation I can’t help but love the historic feel of those planes. In many ways they were a gateway from the early days of aviation to the modern age.
I was a little concerned that I may not ever get out there because I was scheduled to leave home for a while and wasn’t sure I would have time. But, as any devoted Avgeek would do, I made some time to get out there and get some pictures to compare with later as the work progresses. I took my nuts about planes son and drove out to the airport in search of what can easily become the coolest plane in Arkansas.
The North Little Rock Airport sits back off all of the main streets and actually butts right up against an Army base so it took me a little while just to find an entrance, let alone the one I actually was looking for. I finally found what looked like an FBO and pulled in hoping I was in the right place because my son would be pissed if he didn’t get to see some planes like I promised.
We walked inside to find a couple of older gentlemen and a couple of dogs sitting around talking about planes. As an aside, that is one of my favorite things about aviation. We aviators, or Avgeeks if you prefer the increasingly popular terminology, can sit around for hours talking about planes and it never gets old, even if it is the same stories. I asked them if this was the place with the DC-3 to which they responded it was much to my delight.
By this time my son was already trying to push the door open to get outside so I quickly chased after him with the reassurance that it was perfectly fine for us to go out there. Most of the ramp at Barrett Aviation is scattered with small single engine aircraft, but right in the middle of the ramp is this comparatively massive DC-3 that has more character than you can imagine.
My son and I proceeded to walk around the plane admiring all of its many facets. This plane has clearly been through a lot over its life, and in many ways looked like it was ready to collapse from sheer exhaustion. That being said, it still had a feel of incredible workmanship that had gotten it to this point still mostly in tact. As you can see from the pictures I took, they certainly have their work cut out for them, but I am sure when it is finished it will be restored to all of its former glory.
It just goes to show you that you can find aviation stories anywhere. What secret gems of aviation have you found in your searching? Please share your stories in the comments below as I would love to hear about it.
If you need a little more inspiration to go out and look, stay tuned for something I am writing for a fellow Airplanista’s blog in the near future.