Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Walkaround: Kevin Kegin's Waco UPF-7 at St. Louis Downtown Airport

By Carmelo Turdo
A new attraction has come to the St. Louis Downtown Airport - Kevin Kegin's restored 1941 Waco UPF-7 biplane, available for rides by appointment or during the many special events in the coming months.  This airplane, N32084, s/n 5716 was built in September 1941. It is one of about 600 built before and during the war. Originally built to hold 2 in tandem seating, the front seat has been replaced with a bench seat which will carry 2, effectively making it a 3 place airplane. It sports a Continental W-670 engine of 220 hp and cruises about 110 mph. It was completely restored in 1997 by John and Scott Shue, noted Waco restorationists.  

Kevin is a Pilot and Mechanic - Commercial (single / multi engine airplane, instrument airplane) and Certified Flight Instructor (single engine airplane). Kevin is also an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic with Inspection Authorization. He has barnstormed biplanes, towed banners and built F-18's for McDonnell Douglas. Kevin has over 10,000 hours, 7000 or so in the AT-6.

Contact Kevin Kegin for your Waco ride at:

(Portions of this post were provided by 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Nose Art and Names: Personalizing Our Aircraft - More Than Warbirds

By Carmelo Turdo
Nose art and dedications on aircraft are found outside of the warbird community, and finding examples around your local airport or fly-in is a rewarding experience.    Some are subtle, and some are garish, but all are interesting and add to the folklore of aviation.  Here is a look at various aircraft found in the St. Louis area over the last several years, displaying an array of different names and artwork. 



Early Jets

Modern Jets

Sport Aircraft

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ideal Aviation FBO Holds Grand Reopening at St. Louis Downtown Airport

By Carmelo Turdo
Ideal Aviation FBO held its "Grand Reopening" today at St. Louis Downtown Airport.  New owner, Bill Macon, presented his newly remodeled facility to visitors, who enjoyed catered barbecue lunch and the opportunity to examine aircraft up close.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by Airport Director Bob McDaniel and Illinois State Senator James F. Clayborne, Jr. among others.  The star of the afternoon was a 1941 Waco UPF-7, newly based at the airport and being prepared for public rides as the weather allows.  Air ambulance helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft serving St. Louis Children's Hospital were present on the ramp along with a Diamond trainer used by Parks College of St. Louis University.  Just next to Ideal Aviation, the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum was also open to visitors who toured the collection of aviation memorabilia and aircraft in historic 1929 Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2.  Here are some scenes from today's event:

Ideal Aviation owner Bill Macon and IL State Senator James F. Clayborne, Jr. cut the ribbon (Mark Nankivil photo)

 1941 Waco UPF-7 stands out in front of Ideal Aviation

Parks College of St. Louis University Diamond Trainer

KidsFlight 2 serves St. Louis Children's Hospital

KidsFlight 3 provides longer flights to pediatric patients

This Bell 206B Jet Ranger II provided aerial photographs

Ideal Aviation serves a variety of aircraft

 The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum welcomed guests

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Aerospace Community Mourns the Passing of Warren North

This photo is dated October 14, 1964, and shows Dr. Von Braun, left, during a tour of the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center. He is with Dr. J.P. Kuettner, center, from Marshall, and Warren J. North from the Manned Spacecraft Center. (NASA photo)
Warren North
Born April 28, 1922, loving husband, father and grandfather, closed his eyes for the last time on April 10, 2012. Even as a child growing up on an Illinois farm he dreamt of learning to fly. His pursuit of that dream shaped his life and his career. He was a pilot in WW II, worked as an engineering test pilot at Lewis Flight Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio, specializing in turbojet noise research and missile design. After earning a bachelor of Science degree from Purdue and two masters degrees in aeronautical engineering from Case and Princeton, he participated in the formation of NASA, served on the selection team for the seven original astronauts, completed rigorous astronaut training with them, worked on Projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo and rose to one of the most important positions at NASA, Chief, Flight Crew Operations Division, Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas. Astronaut selection, training, evaluation and designs for spacecraft operations were all part of his job description.

He ended his illustrious career at NASA by retiring in 1985. After retiring, he built his own plane and continued to fly until a year before his death. True to his nature, he also took on a new challenge. His aunt, Romalda Spalding, the author of a highly effective method of teaching reading, asked Warren to establish a non-profit foundation to train teachers in her method. Characteristically, Warren enrolled in her reading course and, having determined its efficacy, undertook the task. For the next 26 years, Warren devoted all his considerable energies to advancing literacy through The Spalding Method.

All who were privileged to know Warren remember a quiet, modest man with a dry sense of humor and piercing blue eyes. His keen interest in people and events revealed an unflagging intellectual curiosity. His kindness and generosity revealed a caring heart. Warren was a member of that “greatest generation” whose love of country, dedication to duty and adventurous spirit won a world war, restored vanquished nations and conquered space. He is survived by his loving wife Mary, children James, Mary, Susan, grandchildren Joshua and Jesse Griggs, Jimmy North, and Christina Doody. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 28th at Emmaus Lutheran Church, 3841 W. Sweetwater Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85029 at 1:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to either Christ Lutheran Church, 3300 N Navajo Dr, Prescott Valley, Emmaus Lutheran Church in Phoenix, or Spalding Education International, 23335 N. 18th Drive, Suite 102, Phoenix, AZ 85027.

Ideal Aviation Open House at St. Louis Downtown Airport This Sunday

By Carmelo Turdo
Ideal Aviation FBO at St. Louis Downtown Airport will have an open house Sunday, April 22, from 12:00pm-4:00pm.  Meet new owner Bill Macon, and tour the newly renovated terminal.  Have some free barbecue lunch, check out the aircraft on display, and take a ride in a 1941 Waco UPF-7 (cost involved).  While you are there, visit the neighboring Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum in historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2, where you will see other aircraft such as the 1941 Meyers OTW, BD-5, 2 Pietenpols, a Baby Ace, Mini Max Ultralight, 2 sailplanes, F-4 Phantom II cockpit, replica Spirit of St. Louis cockpit and many more interesting exhibits.  See you there!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nose Art and Names: Personalizing Our Aircraft - Warbirds

By Carmelo Turdo
Aircraft from the warbird era were often given a name or nose art, both as a personalization of the aircraft by the crew and as a shorthand way of identifying each aircraft out of the thousands like it during the massive World War II effort. 
Today, many surviving warbirds are given such emblems from their new civilian owner, sometimes commemorating another wartime sibling or otherwise a token of the current pilot's esteem.  I have collected some of the images of modern-day warbirds taken at air shows and fly-ins that reflect the classic nose-art or name-that-plane practice.  Enjoy!

Piper J3C-85 Cub at Creve Coeur Airport, MO

Aeronca 65-TAC at St. Charles County Airport, MO

Naval Aircraft Factory N3N-3 St. Louis Regional Airport, IL

Boeing (Stearman) A75N1 Columbia Regional Airport, MO

Convair SNV-1 Valiant Scott AFB, IL

Beech 3N Expeditor Columbia Regional Airport, MO

Beech C-45H Expeditor Scott AFB, IL

Beech AT-11 Kansan St. Louis Regional Airport, IL

Beech C-18S St. Louis Downtown Airport, IL

Lockheed 18-56 Lodestar St. Louis Downtown Airport, IL
Douglas C-47 Mexico Regional Airport, MO

North American B-25J Mitchell Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, MO

North American TB-25J Mitchell Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, MO

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Spirit of St. Louis Airport, MO

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Spirit of St. Louis Airport, MO

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, MO

Boeing B-29A Superfortress Spirit of St. Louis Airport, MO
North American AT-6G Texan St. Louis Downtown Airport, MO

North American AT-6C Texan St. Louis Downtown Airport, MO

North American SNJ-5 Texan Creve Coeur Airport, MO

Beech A45 (T-34) Mentor Springfield, IL

Beech A45 (T-34) Mentor Mt. Vernon Outland Airport, IL

Ryan Navion A Creve Coeur Airport, MO

North American T-28C Trojan St. Louis Downtown Airport, IL

North American T-28B Trojan St. Louis Regional Airport, IL

North American P-51C Mustang Columbia Regional Airport, MO
North American F-51D Mustang Columbia Regional Airport, MO

North American P-51D Mustang Columbia Regional Airport, MO

North American F-51D Mustang Mexico Regional Airport, MO

North American P-51D Mustang Springfield, IL

Lockheed P-38L-5 Lightning Columbia Regional Airport, MO

Chance-Vought F-4U-5NL Corsair Springfield, IL