Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Sponsor Appreciation: Big River Aviation Expands Services, Provides Flight Operations for The Aero Experience Team

By Carmelo Turdo
The Aero Experience is proud to announce that Big River Aviation, based at the West Terminal of St. Louis Downtown Airport, will continue to support The Aero Experience team in our mission to promote Midwest Aviation. The Aero Experience has worked closely with Big River Aviation over the previous year to provide increased coverage of Midwest Aviation activities from the air and from more locations throughout the region, and we will add more flights and destinations very soon. We will also continue to feature Big River Aviation regularly in our story rotation as we share the adventures of Midwest Aviation with you.
Big River Aviation Expands Services at New Location  
Big River Aviation has recently moved a short distance to their larger, centrally-located facility at the West Terminal of St. Louis Downtown Airport. Along with having direct access to the apron, the new location offers hangar space to service more and larger single and twin piston-engine aircraft with ample storage and office space for the growing business. Big River Aviation has already been using their new space effectively, completing aircraft annual inspections, airframe and powerplant maintenance and avionics upgrades for a steady stream of customers. 
"Big River Aviation provides annual and 100-hour inspections, scheduled and un-scheduled maintenance, repairs, and service to avionics, structures and engines," Owner Paul Voorhees told The Aero Experience. "I am very fortunate that my maintenance staff each has over thirty years experience." Voorhees says he is now able to serve more customers simultaneously in the new facility, and he has recently increased his maintenance and certified flight instructor staff. Big River Aviation also currently maintains the St. Louis Flight Training fleet along with the company's own Cessna 172.
Big River Aviation has served the aviation community since 2010 in Missouri and Illinois in locations along the Mississippi River. Big River Aviation was the only general aviation maintenance services provider at St. Louis Regional Airport before moving to St. Louis Downtown Airport in 2017. 

Owner Paul Voorhees began his aviation maintenance career in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1986, and then earned his Private Pilot, A&P Mechanic and Inspection Authorization certificates shortly thereafter. The Big River Aviation maintenance staff has decades of experience servicing a wide variety of aircraft, and they bring their expertise and personal service to each customer.

Big River Aviation, along with St. Louis Flight Training and Jet Aviation, recently held an open house at the new location in the West Terminal. Visitors were treated to good food, fellowship and hospitality as they enjoyed one of the best weather days of the year at the airport. All three host companies operate out the West Terminal, and work well together to support the needs of the St. Louis aviation community. The aircraft they maintain and the pilots they train there also make their way across the nation and around the world, as will be seen later in this story. Seen below are Paul Voorhees, Owner of Big River Aviation, Ron Schneider, Director of FBO Services at jet Aviation, and Ken Kopp, Owner of St. Louis Flight Training visiting with guests. The flight school's aircraft were also open for guided tours on the apron.

Big River Aviation Services a Variety of Aircraft 
Big River Aviation has the expertise to service experimental aircraft, including homebuilt and highly modified production types. Here we feature several Van's RV types undergoing inspections and upgrades. Also included is a highly modified Piper Cub used by Nate Sorenson, Owner and pilot for Airspace Aerial Media based at St. Louis Downtown Airport. He can be seen towing an advertising banner nearly every weekend over St. Louis. 

Most of the aircraft inspected and serviced by Big River Aviation are factory-built, single and twin-engine models. Big River Aviation has the expertise to work on a wide variety of general aviation aircraft, from the two-seat Ercoupe to the Cessna 400 series twins featured here among many others. 


The Aero Experience Flights Over the Midwest With Big River Aviation 

Flying With The Aero Experience: Air Tour Over St. Louis With Big River Aviation
Our Flying With The Aero Experience series included an aerial tour of St. Louis and neighboring rural southwest Illinois. The flight, sponsored by Big River Aviation and launched from St. Louis Downtown Airport, was a great opportunity for us to get oriented to the photo plane layout and practice crew coordination skills that will be needed for upcoming photo missions. The flight took off from St. Louis Downtown Airport, continued southward down the Mississippi River past Jefferson Barracks, overflew Sullivan Field Airport in Valmeyer and Sackman Field in Belleville before turning back over the river and around the St. Louis city skyline. See the full story for more coverage.

Flying With The Aero Experience: St. Louis to Washington, MO 

The Flying With The Aero Experience series also included an air-to-air photo mission with Patrick McAleeAirshows. Our goal was to capture some new images of the Blue Demon featuring the over-wing ExtremeFlight wrap from Vinyl Images and the new three-bladed wood composite propeller from GT Propellers. We met in the early morning with Paul Voorhees, Owner of Big River Aviation, at St. Louis Downtown Airport to prepare for the flight to Washington Regional Airport. The air-to-air photo and video shoot took place over Washington, MO, and that media are now being used in the current marketing materials released by Patrick McAlee Airshows. We then flew back to St. Louis Downtown Airport in time for lunch. The full photo essay post, and YouTube video, put you in the cabin of Big River Aviation's Cessna 172 photo plane to experience the photographer's eye view of each leg of the mission.

Special Projects: Just a Few Among Many In Recent Years

Midwest Plane Jane: Classic 1960 Cessna 172 Takes to the Sky Again After Restoration 

A classic 1960 Cessna 172A Skyhawk recently took to the skies again at the culmination of a new restoration program conducted in the heart of the Midwest. The product of a cooperative effort between Ambassador Certification and Consulting Services of Lee's Summit, MO and Big River Aviation located at St. Louis Downtown Airport, the aircraft has become the first "Plane Jane" success story. The early model Skyhawk, shown below, was recently transformed into a beautiful and smooth flying aircraft following a thorough inspection, repair and customization process that has become the model for another restoration already in progress. She was delivered to her new owner, Mr. Griffith Pickett, during a flight from St. Louis to Lee's Summit, MO Municipal Airport. See full story. 

Big River Aviation Gives a Little TLC to St. Louis Science Center Blue Angels Hornet  
A McDonnell Douglas F/A-18B Hornet, former U.S. Navy Blue Angels No.7, is on display at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium of the St. Louis Science Center. The aircraft, made in St. Louis in 1983, is the first installment of a planned air park dedicated to McDonnell Douglas jets which will include an F-15 Eagle now undergoing restoration. Big River Aviation maintains the aircraft's appearance through annual cleaning, inspection and repairs as needed.     

Big River Aviation Services Aircraft for Humanitarian Organizations 
Big River Aviation regularly assists with the maintenance of aircraft used for humanitarian service. Several examples are featured here, including a visit to St. Louis-based Wings of Hope. Big River Aviation Owner Paul Voorhees was installing some avionics in a Cessna 182 owned by Canadian Adventist World Aviation Director of Operations, Jud Wickwire.


Recently, Big River Aviation began working on a twin-engine Piper Geronimo aircraft that will used by the Manos de Compassion (Hands of Compassion) Children’s House in Guatemala that cares for abused and abandoned children. The aircraft was ferried to St. Louis from Springhill, LA, last week and will receive remaining repairs and avionics upgrades before it is deployed in service in about six weeks. The Aero Experience will report on the progress of this project in future stories.

Big River Aviation Sponsors Discovery Flight for High School Student

Big River Aviation, along with AeroCareers, sponsored a discovery flight experience awarded to a deserving high school student at the Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association Awards Banquet held April 27. This year's awardee, Ritenour High School senior Cordan Hampton, submitted the winning essay and demonstrated a record of academic achievement and attendance during this school year. The hour-long flight will give Hampton experience piloting a general aviation aircraft and will hopefully motivate him to continue pilot training. He was recognized with the other discovery flight recipients at the awards banquet as seen below. 

The Aero Experience thanks Big River Aviation for supporting our team as we promote  Midwest Aviation, and we look forward to another great year sharing more high-flying adventures!