“It’s got the same ratty cockpit padding it had when Edgar Russert built it,” says Pavliga. “It’s so tattered. It’s this ugly turquoise-colored stuff. The story is that when Ed Russert built the airplane he cut that off his couch.”
After Pavliga bought the airplane, the magneto mount failed, then failed again after a repair, and the crankshaft broke during one flight with Andrew King at the controls. He had to put it down in a bean field.
“I think Frank wants his dollar back,” Hammond laughs. “With the engine, it just seems like there’s always something. An airplane like a Pietenpol tends to sit over the winter and not fly and the valves will stick and then you gotta mess with the engine and the gaskets will leak. Or it could just be our mechanic’ing abilities,” he jokes.
Andrew King has bought a Model A engine to loan to Pavliga, who thinks he’ll get the airplane airworthy in time for the 2010 Brodhead fly-in. He also thinks his one-dollar airplane is about to cost him close to $3,000. But keeping an old friend’s historic, sweet-flying airplane at home with a group of enthusiasts who will care for it? That’s priceless.