I normally don’t get personally attached to CAMM Air projects but when this came into our shop the beginning of this year my ears perked up. My heart began pitter pattering right away when I heard the plan for this next refurbish project. I couldn’t wait ~
For those of you that might not know CAMM Air, it’s our family business or one might say our bread and butter. We are located in northwest Iowa in a small farming community in Spencer, Iowa. We refurbish and maintain corporate aircraft and other types as planes as well. It’s been a fun run for many years now holding great success and satisfaction of being our own entrepreneurs.
This King Air project airplane came in mid January. A King Air is an elite aircraft holding up to eight passengers with a biff in the back if needed. 😉 It had been bought from one of our local long standing customers and was sold to a group out of Michigan. I didn’t pay that much attention “until” they mentioned the aircraft was going to be converted into a “Skydiving Jump Plane”. My heart jumped a beat, I swear!
So the project began, and a hefty project at that taking several new parts, hours of labor and refurbishing the fuselage. The guys in the CAMM Air shop work magic so I was keeping my eye on this project because of my curiosity of turning it into a “jump plane”.
I’m not sure who was the most excited, our crew, the owner or me! It was certainly fun to watch and hear about the makeover project. From week to week I would ask how the King Air project was taking place. It always amazes me how something gets torn apart in so many pieces and then like magic our team puts it back together bigger, better beautiful and seamless.
A refurbishment is taking the aircraft apart from head to toe one might say. The guys recycle what parts they can, adding new parts and of course updating the latest and greatest in avionics. Today it continues to be about safety but also adding luxury items as well.
After spending a few weeks with overhauling the landing gear, changing a wing, fuel control, upgrading avionics, installing jump mods, new door, bench seats for high density to now hold twelve people, and updating all maintenance records it was getting close to being done.
Everyone is excited! Tests runs were done! As they say in the movies, it’s time for “lights, camera and action! The behind the scene Maintenance Techs were eagerly watching from their benches or windows and we might have had a few “nose prints” on the windows as well.
The King Air looked pretty sexy on the ramp as she rev’d up her engines to fly out into the friendly skies! Checklists were completed and it was time to send her to her new home in Michigan.
I’m sad and sorry to say I wasn’t there the day when the King Air taxied out from CAMM Air. I could only imagine the proud moments that took place. I was excited to know what fun laid ahead for the King Air that would be filled with laughter, excitement and many jumps ahead.
Memories flashed in my mind once again knowing the new King Air project plane was done. You see, why this was so close to my heart is because once upon a time I too did a skydive tandom jump. I still remember the day like it was yesterday.
Every year, Fort Dodge, Iowa holds the “Labor Day Skydiving – Couch Freak Boogie”. At the time in my career, I happened to be the FBO (Fixed Base Operator) Manager at FOD (Fort Dodge Airport). I worked close with the Sky Divers beforehand with set up so it was fun to watch as they arrived for their fun weekend.
After being around the exciting energy I decided I needed to try it as well! For those wanting to participate in on the fun, you partner up to tandom jump with a bit of instruction and video training. I completed the task and I was ready to go!
I had butterflies the entire time as I suited up thinking “I’m really going to do this”! My tandem partner calmed my nerves saying I would never forget this moment and just like that, off we flew to 13,000 feet above the ground. The aircraft was filled with fun and laughter. There were bets as to how many could land on the sofa. My thoughts were, these professional jumpers knew how to have fun!
Thirteen thousand high above the ground, the door opened and one by one, they started to jump! I knew I wanted to go sooner than later because there was no “chickening out” and just like that 1-2-3 we jumped!
Well, didn’t make the sofa but we were certainly close. Oh my gosh, after about 10 minutes of pure joy and thrill I was back on the ground. The rush of before and after was an experience I will never forget! I graduated with my first jump and was proud I did it!
So in closing I have a several thoughts in my head from this CAMM Air project. My sky dive jump in Fort Dodge, succeeding in this King Air and making our customer and several sky dive jumpers happy.
Songs also keep popping in my mind with “sky diving”. Do you think this is place that people to go to forget everything as they jump out of plane and enjoy God’s beautiful landscape? Do you suppose any of them had ever had fear such as I did when I jumped?
For those of you that might want to take this Blog to the next level, turn up your speakers and you too can hum along or tap your toes with a few tunes.
Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lWJXDG2i0A
Live Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9TShlMkQnc.
Here is another “cool” thing, as I’m writing this blog, a text just popped up on Brian’s phone from the new owner of the King Air over in Michigan. It follows as such, “Hey Guys, just wanted to say thanks again for everything. The plane is amazing! There are a lot of happy “Sky Divers” over here in Michigan because of you guys!”
My last “little note” a note from my “tandom partner’s father” that arrived a few days later after my jump. I’ve kept those memories as well as this note to remind me we need to have fun everyday! Our Team at CAMM Air filled a lot of dreams and will support many making these same memories by completing this project, you make us proud!