North American’s final triumph for general aviation
“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.
Always an airplane fanatic, Buchanan restored cars for fun. When he began looking for an airplane, he decided that he had to have a Navion and it would be better if it was a project. It took several years, but he eventually found a basket case in Boonsville, Texas. The Navion he found, with only 750 hours of total time, was one of the last airplanes that North American made before selling out to Ryan. Buchanan found out that his new airplane had rolled out of the factory on his fifth birthday, making it all the more special.
Buchanan’s new Navion had spent the last 20 years of its life waiting for restoration when he trailered it home to Clayton, Ga. Before he got started, however, he was diagnosed with cancer. For most people in his situation, a project like the Navion would be relegated to obscurity, but Buchanan was determined that his project would fly.