A few lucky pilots based in Baker, Montana, have had an advantage over the rest of us—they’ve watched the AOPA Sweepstakes Super Cub’s dramatic restoration unfold before their eyes inside Baker Air Service’s fixed-base operation. They’re free to look and chat, but that’s it. A sign taped across the door opening to the main hangar warns, “You can look but don’t touch anything.”
Owner Roger Meggers; his son, Darin; and Baker Air Service mechanic Jon Anderson have been working around the clock to get the Super Cub ready for its debut at the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo in Florida starting April 10. For the past couple of weeks, Darin has worked from 6 a.m. to midnight each day, meticulously refurbishing the Super Cub and making sure everything fits just right. With the long days, this team’s progress is evident to those who stop in daily or weekly.
Nathan Hexom, a pipeline patrol pilot for Baker Air Service, said it's a highlight to stop in at the end of his day to see the progress. After an eight-hour flight in an Aviat Husky on April 4 in turbulent weather, he was excited to walk into the hangar to see what had been completed since he left that morning.
Dennis Twedt stopped in after working in the oil field to check out the progress and chat with the Meggers. He pointed out that while they might not notice the progress because they are knee-deep in the project, he sees a tremendous amount of change during his weekly visits. As Twedt pulled up pictures of the restoration on his cell phone, he pointed out that just over a month ago on Feb. 27, the fuselage was covered and painted but on a jig with nothing attached to it.
Since then, a major transformation has taken place. In late March, Aerotronics technician Isaac Horn came from company headquarters in Billings to Baker to help install the instrument panel that he custom designed and cut from carbon fiber. After working for almost a week, Aerotronics President Steve Vold and a group of employees came to Baker to take a look at the panel and visit. They quickly got to work for about two days helping with the aircraft. At one point, seven men were working on the Super Cub at the same time, said Vold, who was excited to help lift the wings into position and set the dihedral.
Just days before the airplane’s planned departure for Sun ‘n Fun, the team worked like a well-oiled machine, adding the vinyl lightning bolts, interior, windows, cowling, brakes, tundra tires, and myriad finishing touches. The Meggers even pulled in Baker detailing expert Don Buerkle to help put on the vinyl lightning bolts. They plan to run the new Lycoming O-320 160-horsepower engine and test fly the Super Cub on April 5, so watch for an update on its maiden flight.
After Baker Air Service test flies the airplane, builds some hours on the engine, and makes sure everything is running properly, AOPA Senior Editor Dave Hirschman and I will begin a marathon flight to Florida to make it in time for Sun ‘n Fun for the airplane’s big debut at the AOPA campus. Even though it is springtime, we’ll seemingly have three seasons of weather to contend with on the roughly 1,500-nautical-mile trek. Several inches of snow remain on the ground in Baker, where a fresh two inches piled up overnight April 4. Across the plains, tornado season has started up, and warm temperatures in Florida introduce the risk of thunderstorms.
Thanks to Garmin’s two G5 electronic flight instruments, aera 660 portable GPS, and GTX 345 transponder, we’ll be able to navigate around the weather with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast In weather information.
Stay tuned to find out how the Sweepstakes Super Cub flies. I know I can’t wait to hop in!