Plane & Pilot
Saturday, October 1, 2005

Navion Speedster

North American’s final triumph for general aviation

"Follow your heart." We've heard that advice time and time again, but sometimes, life just gets in the way. Such was the case for Richard Buchanan.

"Ever since I was a kid, I've been an airport nut. I flew models, and I was absolutely crazy about anything airplane from World War II and Korea. A buddy and I tried to go into the U.S. Air Force when we were 16. My mom wouldn't sign me up, and my buddy went without me. I got married and then went to engineering school at night. Before long, we had kids and, well, I guess I put flying on the back burner," he explains of his diverted path.

That doesn't mean Buchanan isn't a determined, goal-oriented type. After a successful career using his engineering skills, Buchanan decided to give flying a second chance.

He recalls, "One day, when I was 56 years old, I told my wife I was going to Florida to get my pilot's license and asked her if she wanted to go with me. 'Of course,' she said. 'Sure!'

"I had a limited time, so I called the flight-training school and told them I had three weeks and I wanted to take my check ride. They were skeptical, but I told them if they gave me a full-time instructor, I would make it. I wanted the meanest, hardest, orneriest instructor there was because that's what works for me. I worked from five in the morning until midnight every day, and we finished a half a day early!" gushes Buchanan.

"I believe I set a record, but it wasn't so easy. After the first week, I just wasn't getting it," he continues. "I sat down and had a talk with myself. I had never been beat or quit anything before, and I wasn't about to start now. Sometime in the second week, I started having fun. About that time, I changed flight instructors, and I had a great time! I've been flying ever since!"

Buchanan's love affair with the Navion began back in 1992. "I flew to Oshkosh with a friend in a Swift. There were about nine to 10 other guys in the group. I ended up riding home with one of them, Dick McFadden, in his Navion. I kind of fell for the Navion. It just struck my fancy," he swoons.

Labels: Piston Singles


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