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Kenneth R. Baierlipp © 2020

I just happen to run into the You Tube video of the "The Immortal Beaver". This while scanning You Tube videos of the recent SpaceX Startship SN8 flight test.

My most favorite aircraft to fly were the UH-1H Huey, Cessna 172, De Havilland Beaver and the Dassault Falcon 50. the Beaver I flew was N114RA belonging to the Fort Carson Military Aero Club, Ft Carson, Colorado, roughly late 1973 to June 1975. The aircraft was acquired from military surplus while I was at the club and converted to civilian status, During that time I became a civilian and then became a civilian instructor at the aero club. It was a non-appropriated funded organization under the control of the recreational assets of Ft. Carson and all instructors were FAA certified flight instructors. I originally ended up flying the aircraft because the Ft. Carson Parachute Club wanted to use it. I had already been flying a Cessna 206 belonging to the aero club for the parachute club but both the parachute club and the aero club wanted to use the Beaver for jumps and I had already been checked out in it shortly after it was civilian certified.

I usually only flew it 2 to 3 Saturdays a month and sometimes on Sunday. I sometimes would fly it in the Colorado Rockies for ski trips or other reasons. It did not have a VHF radio, only a UHF one, and to land at Aspen I had to take a portable VHF radio and stick the antennae out the window. Of course at Aspen it stood out significantly from all the Hollywood jets on the ramp. Although the largest military aero club in the country at the time most students and ordinary club members had no interest in flying the Beaver but occasionally someone would ask for a check out in the "big tail wheel airplane".

The civilian manual only had data up to 8,000 ft but I got the U.S Army -10 manual with info up to 20,000 ft. I needed that as Butts Army Airfield at Ft. Carson was at 6,000 ft and one was not going to do much for a parachute club unless you could get the airplane up to sufficient altitude. Because of the thin air at that altitude I had to take it frequently to 16,500 ft to allow the parachute club to get certain timed free fall events in. The highest I ever got it was coming over the Collegiate Peaks flying from Crested Butte to Fort Carson. I hit a very powerful mountain wave and with nose down and the speed up to 140 kts indicated I peaked out at 17,700 ft.

The airplane was on wheels obviously. The weird item on civilian certification was an argument between the certified aircraft inspector and the FAA over the flaps. The military version allowed 52 degrees flaps and the U.S. civilian certification allowed only 40 degrees. The AI had simply painted a red line at 40 degrees on the flap gauge. The FAA did not want to buy that but the AI s argument was "then all other red lines don't mean anything". They finally relented so of course on Butts military airfield it very often landed with should we say "full flaps" on a real short runway that Butts Airfield had to keep it out of all the other military and aero club traffic. Just might have been used elsewhere too but I couldn't say.

It occasionally got used for some other should we say bulky items. I carted a motorcycle and furniture from Fort Carson to Gunnison, CO with it for a guy getting out of the army. I would fly it for the aero club when the club would use it to get overhauled propellers from the Denver area for other club aircraft.

In the You Tube video it mentioned the pull handle for the clutch on the inertial starter. Would you believe I use that a number of times. In the winter at Ft. Carson that was the only way we got it started some days. I could get the inertia starter really wound up and then jump in the cockpit and pull the clutch. I usually could not get it started that way but the parachutists liked the plane so much I could get them to line up to crank the inertia starter and then after several tries we could get the old 985 going.

I left the club in June of 1975 and my last flight at the club was in fact flying the DHC-2 to an airshow at Salida, Colorado. I left the club because I was suspecting unethical operations by the military assigned manager. Roughly 8 months later a bunch of investigators closed in and shut the club down because of irregularities, Because of the very large size of the club there was a lot of money involved. As I understand the manager was charged on one contract irregularity but by that time he was out of the army and in a different state. The net result is the Fort Carson commander shut the whole thing down and as best I know put in the Ft. Carson policies that there would never be an aero club again. I just heard last year they may finally allow one again.

Beginning 1976 the U.S. Army legal staff and other personnel came in and disposed of all the assets but I really do not know what happened to the Beaver. My understanding was in theory when it was bought from army surplus for the aero club only $1 was the contract price. However there was a clause that the aircraft could never be sold on the civilian market and if the airplane could no longer be used by the Fort Carson or other military aero club it was to be returned to military surplus holdings. I believe it was sent to another military aero club when the Ft. Carson club was shut down and from that point on I do not know what happened to the airplane.

If it is a serial number you are still tracking down I don't think I have a picture of it. However I have a friend in Canon City, Colorado, who just might have a picture. He and I actually maintained the thing under the guidance of the AI and later mechanic because the aero club really did not want to spend money on it. (Think aero club manager)

Kenneth R. Baierlipp