Surprises and delays

Inevitable restoration setbacks

The AOPA Sweepstakes Grumman Tiger restoration has come a long way, but there’s much to do before it’s given away to an unsuspecting pilot in June 2022.
At Lancaster Aero in Pennsylvania, the AOPA Sweepstakes Grumman Tiger awaits its new paint job.
At Lancaster Aero in Pennsylvania, the AOPA Sweepstakes Grumman Tiger awaits its new paint job.

The Tiger’s engine has already been transplanted with a factory overhauled unit courtesy of Air Power Inc. and a new instrument panel now sports a Garmin glass cockpit. However, the Tiger currently looks forlorn—just a shell of an airframe, stripped of paint with its interior and windows removed. What was looking like a well-coordinated trifecta of paint, windows, and interior installation at Lancaster Aero and Roberto’s Aircraft Interiors in Smoketown, Pennsylvania has hit a few snags.

The paint and interior work were to begin simultaneously; seats and interior plastic trim would be wrapped in new leather while the airframe was being painted. The original plastic trim is so cracked and fragile, it must be replaced. It turns out the replacement pieces, made by Vantage Plane Plastics, are injection molded on demand instead of being stocked on a shelf. Unfortunately, the refinery in Texas that produces the raw plastic experienced a slowdown this summer as a result of Hurricane Nicholas, and a delivery date remains uncertain.

Meanwhile, a July 2021 airworthiness directive on Grumman AA–1 and AA–5 models for potential adhesive bondline separation that could cause the skin to delaminate from the aircraft’s structure may now be expanded to include our AA–5B Tiger (see “FAA Proposes Another AD for Grumman Aircraft,” December 2, 2021, If the proposed AD goes into effect, and upon inspection the Tiger has any delamination, the remedy is rivets—hundreds of rivets. Not a nice look on a brand-new paint job. Frustratingly, the AD may not go into effect for many months—if in fact it ever does. And, we cannot comply with the proposed AD inspection before the AD is final, which will be long after the aircraft is painted. It’s a bit of a dilemma.

Finally, the AOPA sweeps will have a new N number when it leaves the paint shop—maybe. We sent the application to reserve an N number three weeks before leaving the airplane with Lancaster Aero—usually plenty of time to make certain the N number can be assigned to our aircraft before paint is applied. We’ve since learned that despite the FAA’s website saying there is a three-week delay in processing applications, the real delay is closer to 12 weeks. We’ll have to paint the new N number on the airplane and cover it with a temporary N28860 (the current N number) vinyl decal until we receive an airworthiness certificate and registration for the new N number.

Someone recently asked me if the surprises and delays keep me awake at night. “No,” I said, “we had a good plan, but sometimes things come up that you can’t predict. We’ll get creative and through the hard work of our partners, we’ll end up with one of the nicest Grumman Tigers anywhere in the world and make it to Sun ’n Fun for everyone to see.” All the effort will be worth it for the flying enjoyment of the eventual winner.

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Alyssa J. Miller

Kollin Stagnito

Vice President of Publications/Editor
Vice President of Publications/Editor Kollin Stagnito is a commercial pilot, advanced and instrument ground instructor and a certificated remote pilot. He owns a 1947 Cessna 140.

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