So now I was the proud owner of a freshly recovered S2B and life was good. And then came April, 2016.
Now I have not subscribed to Trade-a-Plane in years and really wasn’t at all interested in looking at it. But once in a blue moon, I would come home and there would be a complimentary copy sitting on the counter; and, that is what happened in April, 2016. I reached to pick it up and throw it away, but instead set it on the counter and it opened almost by itself. Now there are never many, if any, Pitts for sale but the paper just happened to open to the page with the listings for Pitts. And there, right in the middle, was a simple one column inch ad for the Sunbird. The Sunbird! I read about this plane ten years before and had always thought, “That is what I would really like to own.” I poured over that ad and thought about it all night and the next day I started making phone calls. I spoke with the broker (who at the time was in Norway), and then with the only man alive who had flown the plane, and then mechanic who had recently refurnished it and, finally, the owner. It was a slippery slope and I was going down fast.
So what was it about that plane that got me so Jazzed? I have always gravitated to the unique and unusual and the Sunbird fit that description to a “T.” It’s registered Experimental, Amateur Built, with a design based on the Pitts S1. Although its outward appearance is similar to the Pitts S1, under the cowl is a Lycoming IO540 generating at least 30% more horsepower found in the average S1. Its a single seat plane, whereas my S2B had two seats. Hell, most of the time (read that 95%+) I was alone when I flew the S2B so I figured having only one seat was not a big deal.
There are common threads that bind much of my experience with aviation. The Sunbird was designed by Dan Rihn, the designer of the Phoenix; the Phoenix is owned by John King who first checked me out in my first Pitts. The Sunbird was recently rebuilt by Ray’s Aviation who had just recovered my current Pitts. It didn’t take long to find out a lot about the Sunbird and I decided to buy it. The owner, Fara Green, is a delightful lady and was a pleasure to deal with; we struck a deal and I sent off a non refundable deposit. If I couldn’t sell the S2B in six weeks I would either (1) lose the deposit or (2) pay cash for the balance and own two planes until I could sell the S2B; and, neither one of those options appealed to me.
S2B was out up for sale and potential buyers came out of the woodwork, lots of nice people from all over the world; it sold in a heartbeat.
Another adventure was about to begin.