Sunday, August 28, 2022

Big River Aviation Recovers Cherokee Six for Future Restoration

By Carmelo Turdo
Big River Aviation, based at St. Louis Downtown Airport, has a reputation for accepting the more challenging jobs in the general aviation maintenance world, sometimes resulting in extensive rebuild projects. The Aero Experience regularly features Big River Aviation servicing aircraft from around the Midwest, including some that have made their way to humanitarian service around the world. In April, the Big River Aviation crew arrived at Washington, MO Regional Airport to recover a Piper Cherokee Six that had a landing incident in early February. There was significant damage to the propeller, nose landing gear and one of the wings. The aircraft was totaled and repurchased by the owner. Big River Aviation was the logical choice to affect the  aircraft's repair and restoration to flight. 

Big River Aviation has made steady progress on the Cherokee Six since then, and here we show the recovery and recent status update. We will have more coverage coming soon throughout the life of the project. 

Friday, August 26, 2022

St. Louis Aviation Community Sustains Humanitarian Services in East Africa and Central America

By Carmelo Turdo
Wings of Hope, the global humanitarian nonprofit organization based at Spirit of St. Louis Airport, has been serving those in need around the world for over sixty years. "Changing and Saving Lives Through Aviation" encapsulates their mission succinctly as they provide medical relief flights in the U.S. and in cooperation with host providers around the world. Here we highlight the roles that two native St. Louis-area aviation professionals play in the success humanitarian aviation services in East Africa and Central America: Elsa Klarich, pilot and UAV operator at Wings of Hope and Paul Voorhees, Owner of Big River Aviation, based at St. Louis Downtown Airport.

Elsa Klarich is a pilot, UAV operations consultant and Soar Into STEM Program instructor at Wings of Hope. She lives in Tanzania where she flies a Cessna 206 for Flying Medical Service. Klarich holds commercial, instrument and multi-engine certificates and specializes in flying to remote airfields to reach indigenous people groups in their villages. Along with her regular flying duties, she continues to work with Wings of Hope to develop uncrewed aerial vehicle technology for the delivery of medical supplies to remote areas of the Ecuadorian Amazon in South America. It is envisioned that UAVs will provide a lifeline to the villages to supplement the services provided by Alas de Socorro (Wings of Relief) in the region. 

Here we show the Wings of Hope Cessna 206 used for training in the St. Louis area and the Flying Medical Service aircraft in Arusha, Tanzania. 

(Paul Voorhees photo)

(Paul Voorhees photo)

The Aero Experience interviewed Elsa Klarich during her visit to Wings of Hope in April, and she tells her story in this video:

Paul Voorhees, the owner/operator of Big River Aviation based at St. Louis Downtown Airport, has been supporting Wings of Hope and other humanitarian aviation organizations for many years. A pilot and A&P/IA, Voorhees has maintained aircraft from Phantom and Hornet fighter jets in the U.S. Marine Corps to P-51 Mustangs to most general aviation single and multi-engine piston aircraft types in the skies today. Along with maintenance projects for Wings of Hope in St. Louis, Voorhees has performed annual inspections and aircraft maintenance at remote locations including in Nicaragua and this year in Tanzania. Following the annual inspection in June, the Flying Medical Service Cessna 206 is ready for another year of service (see photos from Paul Voorhees below).

In March, Paul Voorhees completed the annual inspection of the Piper Geronimo twin-engine aircraft used to support the Manos de Compasion (Hands of Compassion) Children's Home located near the Bay of Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala. Big River Aviation completed a year-long restoration of the aircraft in St. Louis (2019-2020) and continues to support Director Dave Reichard and his staff as they use the aircraft for regular flights to Guatemala City. Here we feature some photos from Paul Voorhees taken during his visit to Guatemala and a video showing the initial aircraft delivery.