AOPA's Win a Six in '06 Sweepstakes - Pre-Expo Prep

November 11, 2009

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October 12
Pre-Expo Prep

Last week, the Win a Six in '06 Sweepstakes airplane made big news when it left the paint shop at Dial Eastern States Aircraft Painting, Inc. (Desapi). Desapi, located at the Harrison County Airport in Cadiz, Ohio, spent almost two months creating the excellent paint job that our/your 1967 Piper Cherokee Six-260 now carries. It was a painstaking job that involved not just the usual preparations - stripping the old paint off, cleaning the exposed aluminum surfaces, and repainting with the new paint scheme - but several important repairs.

One was damage to the stabilator. Though we were told that the airplane came with no damage history (NDH, in aviation sales-speak), a large dent in the upper stabilator surface quickly came to light after the old paint job was stripped off. Thanks to Williams Airmotive - who supplied new control surfaces for previous AOPA sweepstakes airplanes - and Desapi's expertise, the stabilator was expertly reskinned.

An aileron hinge bracket was also discovered to have cracks, and that part was replaced as well.

Desapi installed new side windows, making for new windows all around, and also repaired two broken primer lines feeding two of the Six's six cylinders in its 260-hp Lycoming O-540 engine. Repairs were also made to the aft baggage door latching mechanism, the pitch trim actuator barrel in the tailcone, and the fit of the forward baggage door.

But the showcase work is the paint job itself. Designed by Craig Barnett of Scheme Designers, Inc., the design features blue, gold, and gray stripes on a white background. The detail work involved in the proper application of all those stripes caused lots of overtime at Desapi, as Dick Guenther and his crew toiled to make the stripes align perfectly as they crossed the four joints created by the aft doors.

On top of that, another alignment nightmare was the application of the N numbers - more different-colored paint elements crossing the same four door seams. And not a single crooked line! What a testimony to Desapi's expertise!

We did an air-to-air photo shoot of the freshly painted airplane, and then it was time to make our way south - to the interior shop.

Aircraft Interiors of Memphis
On October 3, the baton was passed to our interior shop - Aircraft Interiors of Memphis. The name is a bit misleading, in that the shop is located not in Memphis, Tennessee, but at the Panola County Airport (PMU) in Batesville, Mississippi - about 45 miles south of Memphis. Owner Jimmy Jones started his interior shop in Memphis and still retains a facility there, but our work is being done at PMU.

As soon as I landed at Panola County, Jones' crew towed the Six into the Aircraft Interiors hangar and began work. Over the next week and a half, Jimmy and company will go elbow-deep in the Six's interior, working weekends if need be.

Much of the interior work has already been completed. For example, the old, beat-up fabric seats have been recovered in light-gray leather (from Mayfield Aviation Leather of Hickory, North Carolina) with yellow accent beading. And the sidewalls, left behind during a visit this past summer, have been restored.

The remaining work will take another 10 days or so. This includes installing the carpet (from Aircraft Interior Products of Wichita, Kansas), headliner, plastic components (from Vantage Plane Plastics of Alva, Oklahoma), Saircorp center console (from Saircorp/Flight Boss LTD of Smithville, Ohio), and PAV-80 viewing screens (from PS Engineering of Lenoir City, Tennessee). One video screen will be mounted at the aft end of the center console so that forward-facing passengers can see it. The other will be mounted in the aft cabin, near the aft baggage door, affording aft-facing passengers a good view. The screens will be detachable.

Aircraft Interiors has been a high-quality interior restorer for decades and is now focused on our/your Cherokee Six. We'll post photos of the interior work in progress as they become available. And as always, stay tuned to this Web site for more project news.

Until next time, look for the completed Win a Six on display at AOPA Expo. It'll be on static display at the convention center and will lead the renowned "Parade of Planes" at the beginning of the show.

- Thomas A. Horne

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