Elite Aviation, the premier flight training and aircraft service provider in St. Louis, held their annual open house at Spirit of St. Louis Airport on Saturday. Visitors were treated to good food, an apron full of aircraft and the Midwestern hospitality that is shown to guests and customers of Elite Aviation on a daily basis. During the day, Elite Aviation flew thirteen "Test Flights," or introductory local flights for those interested in pursuing flight training, in their fleet of late-model Cessna 172 Skyhawks. Those interested in purchasing aircraft were treated to a look at the latest Skyhawk and Baron aircraft from our friends at Textron Aviation.
In Part 3 of this series, we feature the vintage and warbird aircraft visiting the Elite Aviation 2019 Open House. Our first example is this beautiful Cessna 195B flown in by Andrew Sharpe. The Cessna 190/195 models were produced from 1947 to the mid 1950s for the post-war business class market and military liaison role. Retaining a conventional landing gear and radial engine, over 1100 were built. This period saw the introduction of the Beechcraft Bonanza and later the Cessna 172, marking an end to this classic design.
Around midday, Mark Schuler arrived in his Nanchang CJ-6A warbird trainer. The CJ-6/A line of military basic trainers was designed in the late 1950s for the Chinese Army aviation forces by the Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (Nanchang). The aircraft is widely available on the civilian warbird market and is relatively easy to fly and maintain. Schuler's CJ-6A is in the particularly attractive blue/gray paint scheme and can be seen at fly-ins and airshows around the Midwest.
The Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force brought two of their warbirds to Elite Aviation's 2019 Open House. The wing's Grumman TBM-3E Avenger torpedo bomber was produced at the General Motors Trenton, NJ factory in 1945. The aircraft served from land bases following the war and later as a trainer during the Korean War years. It served with the U.S. Navy until 1961, and then with the Georgia Forestry Commission and private owners until the wing acquired it in 2000. It now flies regularly during the Midwestern airshow and fly-in season. Here we see a deomnstration of the Avenger's wing-folding mechanism as it parks on the apron and it's departure later in the afternoon.
The Missouri Commemoriative Air Force wing also brough their North American B-25J Mitchell, Show Me, to the open house. Along with the Avenger, this iconic warbird can be seen at arishows and fly-ins throughout the Midwest. This late-model B-25J was also produced in 1945, and it remained in service as a trainer until 1958. The aircraft had several private owners before being acquired by the wing in 1982. During their visit to Elite Aviation, the B-25 crew flew two groups on flights around the St. Louis metropolitan area. Flights in either the TBM or the B-25 can be scheduled by contacting the wing through their website.
The Aero Experience thanks Elite Aviation, the aircraft owners mentioned in this story and the Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force for staging their aircraft at the open house event. We also thank all of those particpants mentioned in Parts 1 and 2 of this series for making the Elite Aviation 2019 Open House a great success!