Palmetto Air Service uses Cessna 150s or 152s for our primary trainers. They're cozy (ok, they're small) but they were designed specifically with flight training in mind. Accordingly, they're easy to fly, but require considerable finesse to fly well. They burn less than 6 gallons of fuel an hour, so you're not paying an arm and a leg, and because they're two-seaters, you're not paying to insure a couple of empty seats. Ours are deliberately minimally equipped -- we want you to learn to FLY before you have to worry about fancy radios and gizmos that keep your head down in the cockpit. We think the Cessnas are the best civilian primary trainers ever made, and wish Cessna would see fit to build them again.
For those who need more elbow room and for advanced and instrument training, we have a Cessna 172 available. The 172 is the quintessential general aviation airplane, with more than 43,000 of them built since 1956. Ours is, shall we say, unique.
Although it's an older airframe, the avionics are state of the art -- a Garmin 600 glass panel, dual Garmin 430s with WAAS, L-3 Skywatch traffic, XM weather, and an S=Tec autopilot. . . You get the (pardon the pun) picture. It's one sweet airplane for training or rental, and we'll make sure you know how to operate all that gear safely.
No matter which of the Cessnas you choose, you'll get some training time in the other one as well. You'll also get some time in CRAFT's Redbird Advanced Aviation Training Device (that's a simulator in normal-speak). The Redbird is a full motion simulator that can be set up as a Cessna 172 or a Cirrus (with other options on the way). Dual instruction time in the AATD counts toward the requirements for your private and commercial certificates and toward your instrument rating. Because it's a simulator, you get concentrated experience and you can practice some things we wouldn't try in an airplane. General aviation is changing rapidly, and we'll give you the best foundation possible for whatever airplanes you fly in the future.
We also have some goodies lurking in the hangars that aren't on the rental line right now. Woody's pet is a 1967 Bellanca Viking. Three hundred horsepower, retractable landing gear, and an intimidating roar. Bellancas are true pilots' airplanes. The wings are wood, the fuselage is tube and fabric, and the handling is unbelievably good. Don't let the wood scare you -- termite inspections are not required. Did I mention they're fast? This one does about 180 knots, which is as fast as airliners used to go.
Edna's love is a 1977 Grumman Cheetah, Hot Number Junior. It's fast, it's sleek, and it's visible from a LONG way off. This one's undergone a series of upgrades, starting with paint and interior and finishing with a complete avionics transplant. In between was a Black Edition engine overhaul and a high compression upgrade, done by Victor Aviation in California. Let's see, what's left to do? Maybe a new pencil? The paint scheme was custom designed and gave Edna a chance to revisit her childhood and play with the big box of crayons again. Of course there's a story behind the paint and a story behind the name.
At the other end of the luxury spectrum is our 1947 Piper Cub Special, Butterfinger. There's a story behind that name, too, and it's a long one. Seems the wings were rebuilt several times between the time the airplane went out of service for a scheduled recovering in the late 1970s and the time she next flew in 1996. They were rebuilt by our resident genius mechanic just before Hurricane Hugo. Bad timing: the hangar fell on them. The mechanic was transferred to Texas and another genius rebuilt them the next time. Unfortunately, he had other commitments and couldn't do the whole airplane, so we found a restoration shop to do the job. Alas, in trucking the airplane to Atlanta, the wings were dinged again. The damager rebuilt them on his own time, but not to our satisfaction or to that of Barnstormers Workshop, who was restoring the airplane for us. Barnstormers stripped the wings down again, repaired them, and had them painted through silver. . . when the sawhorse collapsed. Wings rebuilt yet again, she was christened with an enormous Butterfinger candybar instead of champagne. She's a wonderful airplane to fly, slow and quiet, with the wind in your face. No radio, no starter, nothing to distract you from the art of flying or from the perfect summer evening along the beach.
Oh, yeah -- and here's the airplane that started Palmetto Air Service, lovingly restored to better than new by her new owner. She taught a lot of people to fly and earned her posh retirement as a pampered plane.