Rural Missouri - May 2011 - (Page 20)

aircraft from anoth Vintage Cessna 195s soar high thanks to northeast Missouri’s B by Jason Jenkins M ike Barron is no stranger to the trials and tribulations of today’s air traveler. A commercial pilot for more than 20 years, he doesn’t deny that his indus- try has lost some of the allure it once held with the American public. But Mike also knows a different kind of air travel, one that harkens back to an era when aviation was young, when airfi elds weren’t much more than pastures and when the experience of traveling on the wing was still romanticized. Even after fl ying hundreds of thousands of miles, Mike still looks upon aviation with the same amazement and wonder he had as a young boy learning to fl y from his father. Today, he is sharing his passion for fl ying through Barron Aviation, which he formed in 1997. Located just outside Perry in Ralls County, the company specializes in the restoration of the Cessna 195, one of the most iconic aircraft ever produced. nostalgic. It was the last American airplane ever certifi ed with a radial engine and the fi rst Cessna to be completely constructed of aluminum. “It’s the quintessential taildragger,” says Mike, a member of Ralls County Electric Cooperative, referring to the single rear-wheel design that was common among early 20th-century aircraft. “It’s got that long, slender, sleek look with the big radial engine in the front that sounds so cool.” Mike bought a Cessna 195 that had been damaged and disassembled. When he got it home and started looking for parts, a lot of them were unavailable. He began buying the tools to make his own parts. As he went along, he realized there was an entire community of aviators seeking support for this classic airplane. Perry • “The parts I made for my project, other people wanted them for their projects,” he says. “Things I needed to do to my airplane, other people needed, too. So we went right into business.” The Cessna 195 has a following like few others. “This plane is to classic aircraft what the Harley-Davidson “I was told there was no way we could build a business of this type out in ‘the middle of nowhere,’ that you had to be located in a metropolitan area,” says Mike. “I took that as a challenge, and within two years or so, we were the premier 195 facility worldwide.” Today, three generations of the Barron family are involved in the business. Mike serves as president, and his parents, John and Marilyn Barron, manage sales and the offi ce. His 15-year-old son, Dillon, works alongside fi ve other employees in the shop. Originally from Parkville north of Kansas City, Mike moved to Perry after being transferred by TWA (now American Airlines) to St. Louis. His father, also a former commercial pilot, and mother decided to make the move, too. They constructed a hangar and a grass runway on their new northeast Missouri property. “We built it with the intention of just tinkering, assembling some airplanes and having fun,” says Mike. “It was going to be just for us.” Since he was a child, Mike had been smitten with the Cessna 195. From its introduction, the plane was at the same time modern and 20 is to classic motorcycles,” says John. “It’s the look, the feel, the sound.” Created in the 1930s by designer Dwayne Wallace, Cessna put its model 195 on hold when World War II began. Like most American manufacturers, it instead turned its attention to supporting the war effort. Cessna built the infamous T-50, known as the “bamboo bomber,” in which countless American airmen trained. After the war ended, Cessna made a few refi nements to the 195’s design and put the airplane into production in 1947. During the next eight years, the company would assemble nearly 1,200 Cessna 195s and 190s, the latter using the same body but receiving a smaller radial engine. “It was the corporate jet of its day,” Mike explains. “It can seat up to fi ve, it hauls a good load and it’s fairly fast. It actually rivals in effi ciency some of the more modern production airplanes built today.” Because they’re dealing with a vintage aircraft Since 1997, dozens of the classic Cessna 195, which was the last airplane ever certifi ed with a radial engine, have returned to the sky thanks to Barron Aviation. Today, three generations of the Barron family make the company a success including, from left, John, Marilyn, Mike and Dillon. WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP that’s no longer supported by its manufacturer, Cessna 195 enthusiasts rely on each other. When Barron Aviation came on the scene and began offering parts and service, word spread fast. “The Internet really fueled our expansion,” adds Mike. The company offers everything a Cessna 195 owner or prospective owner needs. Mike and John can assemble a custom-built aircraft ordered to a client’s specifi cations, or they can repair an existing airplane that’s been damaged. At the end of its production run in 1954, a new Cessna 195 cost $23,600 (the equivalent of $190,000 today). A typical restoration at Barron Aviation costs $170,000 to $180,000. For a polished aluminum body with all the bell and whistles, the price tag can reach as high as $330,000. “A brand-new, modern-day Cessna of comparable size costs from $350,000 to $400,000,” says Mike. “While these 195s go up in value, the new ones go down in value — and they don’t have the ‘cool factor.’” When Gary Snider, an architect and pilot from Des Moines, Iowa, decided he’d like to own a Cessna 195, he began searching for the expertise to help make it a reality. Little did he know that he’d fi nd the experts living in his backyard. “I was expecting to fi nd somebody in California or Florida, not in northeast Missouri,” says Gary, who owns three vintage aircraft http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - May 2011

Rural Missouri - May 2011
Table of Contents
Jim Peters’ Passion
Help & Hope
Twist of Fate
Mail Bag
Shoot Like a Pro
Out of the Way Eats
Aircraft From Another Era
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
The Pared-Down House
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - May 2011