Gary Platner flew for the US Navy from 1967-1987, spending five years in active duty and another 15 years in the reserves. Gary also spent 30 years flying with Southwest Airlines. Not content to just cruise along at 34,000 feet, Gary has proven that he can fly anything that has wings on it such as the T-34, T-2, F-9, AF-9, A-7, T-28, F-8, F-4, Citabria, Stearman, Cherokee 140 & 180, Navajo Chieftain, Aztec, Piper Commanche, Twin Commanche, C-150, C-172, C-180, C-182, Aeronca Champ, Piper Cub, C-310, C-420, King Air, RV-6, RV-8, RV-8A, Christen Eagle, Bonanza, and Little Toot!
Gary is no stranger to bi-planes and has owned a Stearman for 30 years. One time Gary was at the National Biplane Fly-in in Bartlesville, Oklahoma where by chance he met Tommy Meyer. They got to talking and discovered that they were neighbors (lived within a mile of each other). It wasn't long before Gary had arranged to fly Tommyís Toot. When he came back to earth, Gary had been bitten by the Little Toot bug. Being close to Tommy Meyer turned out to be a blessing as he was able to help Gary to press ahead with the construction of his very own Toot. Gary was able to acquire a worn out IO-360 out of a helicopter. He took it apart and had the case lapped and line bored, and the cylinders bored and chromed with new pistons and rings. After getting all the parts back Gary assembled the engine, installed an Emag and Pmag, Ellison throttle body injection, inverted fuel and oil. He was finally able to crank it up and it ran well, except for one small oil leak and low oil pressure due to the inverted oil system, both of which were quickly fixed. The plane is on the fast track and should be ready for test flight in early 2010 Asked what he likes most about the Little Toot, Gary says, " Most everything: Itís stout, I can see over the nose, and it's very maneuverable". Gary's plane is constructed in the tube and fabric option, and is painted in classic Toot colors of red and white.
Bob Borger has been a self proclaimed "Airplane Nut" for as long as he can remember. He began flying lessons at age 15 and completed his private pilot license at Ohio University at age 21. Bob spent five years taking orders from the US Air Force, where he worked as a technician maintaining flight simulators. While he was there, he had the opportunity to fly rented airplanes as well as fly for the Civil Air Patrol. As is often the case, getting married, attending graduate school and raising a family resulted in no further significant flying for many years. It was the year 2000 when Bob's wife suggested that he dust off his wings and get back in the air. She didn't have to ask twice! Not only did he dust off, but he went back and added Commercial and Instrument ratings. Bob has built a Europa XS Monowheel airplane powered by an intercooled Rotax 914 swinging an Airmaster C/S prop.
You would think that one homebuilt aircraft under the belt would make anyone satisfied, but in the true spirit of a repeat offender, Bob has another airplane in the works.......a Little Toot of course! Bob first discovered the Little Toot when he read about it in aviation magazines back in the 1960's. A bi-plane fan since he was a kid, Bob was found himself attracted to the good looks of the plane. Evidently it was too good to resist because Bob began collecting pieces and parts of other people's projects which had been abandoned for various reasons. He plans to complete the assemblies and assemble them into the finished airplane. Bob likes Little Toot because of its strong design, visibility over the nose, great handling, and ease of landing.
Little Toot is a plans built aircraft so it can be challenging to build, but Bob is working closely with Tommy Meyer to master the different skills needed to complete a home built such as wood, metal, welding, composite, fabric, electrical, etc. Bob's plan is to finish the Little Toot in classic Toot colors of red and white. The fuselage is constructed of tube and fabric. He also plans to equip the plane with a Lycoming IO-320-D1A with lots of goodies, including inverted oil and fuel. Evidently he plans to spend a lot of time looking up at the ground!
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, country music star Aaron Tippin is an instrument rated commercial pilot with single and multi-engine ratings. He also has private pilot privileges for rotorcraft-helicopter. Finally, he is a certified airframe and power plant mechanic. You could look it up!
Aaron Tippin was born July 3, 1958, in Pensacola, Florida, but raised on a farm in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, where he went to Blue Ridge High School. In the 1970s, he made a living as a singer, performing in various local bars.
By the time Aaron was 20, he was working as a commercial pilot. In 1986, he moved to Nashville, where he eventually became a staff writer at Acuff-Rose. He competed on TNN's You Can Be a Star talent contest in 1986, landed a song publishing contract. He moved to Nashville in 1987. During this time he wrote songs for The Kingsmen, David Ball, Mark Collie, and Charley Pride. He would spend his nights working at Logan Aluminum in Logan County, Kentucky and spend his days driving 60 miles to Nashville to write songs.
Along with their business manager, Aaron and Thea Tippin created Tippin's company, Tip Top Entertainment Aaron also opened two hunting supply stores called Aaron Tippin Firearms: one in Smithville, Tennessee, and the other was run by his late father, Willis Emory Tippin, in Oak City, North Carolina. Mr. Willis Tippin died in 2005.
Since July, 1995, Aaron Tippin has been married to Thea (nee Corontzos)
I typically don't show off aircraft other than Toots but Aaron sent along this photo of one of his personal aircraft that is a real beaut. This is an AT-6.
Rich has always held a keen interest in Little Toot since the day Arlo Schroeders'Hawk Pshaw flew to early EAA fly-ins and made the aviation magazines, such as during the era of AC-Spark Plug Flight Rallys that were cross-country events for the last Rockford & early Oshkosh fly-ins.
Growing up in the Flint, Michigan area, no one had yet built a Toot so Rich's first biplane was another sport biplane which he flew with an O-320 and a canopy before deciding to return to open cockpit flying. (see MAGNUM Miniplane article - Sport Aviation May 2006).
After flying the other biplane for some 250 hrs, the wings which were covered with cotton failed the punch test. Rich started looking for a biplane with a new set of wings with increased wing area and larger rib chord, so a Little Toot project listed for sale fulfilled that search and re-kindled his earlier interest in Little Toots'!
He ended up acquiring the previously started airframe (dubbed the Green Toot) from Tommy & Bob Borger New Years Eve 2009. After completing missing components (horizontal stab, vertical fin, control cables, etc.) Rich re-located the seat back 3-Ĺ inches and built a taller wood turtledeck for use as either a baggage bin or fuel tank bay. His Little Toot will resemble the Ron Cribbs' Little Toot.
The Navy Toot was structurally completed by May 2011. Sub-systems like the fuel, electrical & brake systems & instrument panel are still being worked piece-meal in between covering chores. The airframe is currently being covered with Dacron.
Rich has plans to finish his Toot as a pre-WW II US Navy Neutrality Patrol biplane complete with pseudo-tail hook, open cockpit and an old fashioned three-paned Lexan windscreen. He will be applying the Golden-Age Navy paint scheme of yellow wings, gray fuselage, red squadron chevrons on top wing, colorful aft fuselage band with US roundels forward of the cockpit on the fuselage and roundels on each wing panel.
Rich has enjoyed pulling his project together and he can hardly wait to join up with other Little Toots!
BTW, just how long has Rich been a member of EAA? Pretty long since his number is 38744.
Airplanes and flying have been my great passion for all of my life. As a kid I built and flew RC airplanes with my father, an activity that I am still very much involved in to the present day. This hobby is what led my to discover the Little Toot. I stumbled upon an article in a modeling publication (can't remember which one) and spotted a most wonderful looking biplane, the Little Toot. The pictures are still etched in my memory. The article included contact info for more information and I therefore wrote to Tommy Meyer. A few weeks later, I received a two page black and white brochure in a letter sized envelope. Over the next few years I must have read that brochure a thousand times. I stared a the pictures, trying to make out details of the construction wondering if I could actually build such a beautiful airplane. Over the span of the next ten years I'd made a few calls to Tommy, asking questions and inquiring about any projects that might be fore sale. Then in 1992, I bit the bullet and bought a project located in Bend, Oregon. This was the beginning of the great adventure.
In 1993, I began work in ernest. Unlike some builders, I had never built a "real" airplane. I had to learn EVERYTHING. There was much doubt and many nights of frustration. My family expressed their doubts as to whether I could actually do this. To build, finish and actually fly an airplane you built yourself!?? Not to mention the financial aspect especially for a man with a young family. I never admitted it at the time but I had my doubts too. I also felt guilty that the money going into the airplane could be better spent on the needs of a young family. During the building years, my wife Lorraine supported me and encouraged me to keep going, making sacrifices for the project so that I could pursue MY dream. I could not have completed the project without her unwavering support.
Finally, on May 11, 2000, test pilot Jack Johnson flew my airplane for the first time. It few hands off and without a hitch. Not a thing needed tweaking, she was perfect. This event was shared by my father Roger, my brother Dan, the Transport Canada inspector and few of my flying buddies. My first flight was not until a few days later and for me was uneventful. I found the airplane to be easy to fly and behaved completely as you would expect. Over the years, C-FZRP has proven to be an honest, predictable and dependable airplane. I have since accumulated over 506 hours and have flown as far away as Oshkosh, but most flights are local and usually where a hearty breakfast awaits.
I am a commercially licensed pilot and have done a lot of glider towing in Piper Pawnees and some crop dusting in a Cessna Ag Truck. My brother and father fly ultralights, a pastime which I also enjoy. I am an avid modeler with a modest collection from small electrics up to 1/3 scale examples. Currently, I am building a 1/4 Waco ATO. I am also currently building a 7/8 scale WWI SE5a witch will be powered by a Continental O-200.
In my personal life, I have been married 29 years to my wife Lorraine, I have tow daughters Chantal (24) and Danielle (21) and a son in law Peter, Chantal's husband. Professionally, I am an electrical contractor and our company (Jet Electric Ltd.) will be celebrating 25 years of service in Jan. of 2014. I am 53.
In closing, I consider this airplane to be a member of the family. It is not for sale and will never be. I will continue flying it until I wear it out or can't get into it any more, witch ever comes first.
Roland Blackburn, President & General Manager, Jet Electric Ltd.
Gary is a native Texan, born and raised in Dallas. His father was an airplane mechanic working for Braniff and then LTV (Chance Vought), so he was surrounded with aviation since childhood. He grew up building and flying airplane models and going to airports and watching real airplanes fly. He earned his pilot's license while a student at UT Arlington in 1968 and worked as a line boy at Red Bird airport in Oak Cliff, a suburb of Dallas.
Gary twice served our country. He first entered the US Air Force in 1971. Although in the Air Force, he was trained by the Army at Fort Wolters, Texas and Fort Rucker, Alabama flying their TH-55 and H-13s (MASH type helicopter). Once assigned he flew the HH-43 Pedro, HH-1H and UH-1H Hueys, until leaving the service in 1975. He 're-upped' to active duty in 1979 and flew UH-1Ns at Plattsburgh AFB, NY, again with air rescue. In 1980, Gary was offered the chance to transition to fixed wing craft, and after training in the T-37, T-38, AT-38, and F-111A, was assigned to the 55th TFS, 20 TFW at RAF Upper Heyford, England flying the F-111E. He transferred to the 48TFW, RAF Lakenheath, England, in 1988 flying the F-111F. Gary was deployed to Saudi Arabia in August 1990 and flew in Operation Desert Storm. In late 1991 he was assigned to RAF Strike Command at High Wycombe as a USAF liaison officer. While there , he joined their glider flying club and got his first open cockpit flight. "Absolutely thrilling!" He flew with the aero club and in 1992 came back to the states to qualify for ATP check ride and multi-engine ratings. He once again retired from the Air Force in 1995.
Gary found work at a Wyoming museum as the exhibits coordinator until another retirement in 2009. Gary then moved to a friend's ranch outside of Hysham, Montana. Montana is called "Big Sky Country" and is a perfect place for Gary's love of airplanes. He has a two seat Maxair Drifter LSA flown from a dirt and grass runway on the farm. Although the Drifter, that his wife, Criss, deceased in 2012, named Ladybug, offered open cockpit flying, Gary had not given up having a sport biplane. In 2011, Gary started construction on a Ragwing Special (a wood and fabric copy of the Pitts Special). Better things to come, however. In 2013, Gary came into some money and was finally able to buy a real sport biplane, a Little Toot. "It is wonderful." exclaims the proud new owner of N62TR, now christened "Tootsie."