Les DeLine's Travel Air 4000
The Travel Air 4000, NC-6085, on our cover, was the 1995 AAA/APM Grand Champion here at Antique Airfield. This airplane was originally a model 2000 with the OX-5. Les DeLine acquired NC-6085 from Tom Duzan of Kennewick, Washington in February 1995. It has a Lycoming R-680 with a H/S 2B20 controllable prop installed.
Some history known of this airplane includes that in 1941 it was first modified to a 4000 model by Curtiss/Wright. A Wright J-5 was installed at that time. Its long service as an ag-plane included ownership by the Mid-Valley Dusters at Alamo, Texas in 1966.
Registrations in the past indicate that NC-6085 was registered in 1986 to another Travel Air Club member, Dan Murray. This may have been one of the several Travel Airs purchased in Texas by Murray and Frank Bass some years ago.
Les DeLine advises us that he modified the wheels and brakes on NC-6085 by utilizing N3N 30X5 wheels and brakes and installing toe brakes. Prior to that the heel brakes utilized were hard to locate on the floor when they were needed the most.
The L-4000 model Travel Airs were originally modified and the STC acquired by Parks Air College at St. Louis, but other approvals may exist.
By coincidence the other Travel Air also attending the 1995 AAA/APM Fly-In was also a model L-4000. This airplane, NC-9831, has been a frequent visitor to Antique Airfield in past years when owned by Jack Greiner and later Joe Pundzak. It is now owned by Alan LaRochelle. The Travel Air Club prexy Franny Rourke put this airplane into a standard category some years ago as it too was a "duster" prior to being restored.
NC-6085 was voted the Grand Champion Antique of the 1995 AAA/APM Fly-In. Some readers may not be aware that the annual awards made during the AAA/APM Fly-Ins are earned via the ballots cast by AAA members attending. This method of choosing a grand champion involves those who have an in depth knowledge of antique and classic airplanes. While appointing judges and utilizing a group judging system has merit there is more validity in a ballot system that can eliminate prejudice and politics from choosing such grand champions.
NC-6085 also garnered other awards at the 1995 Fly-In at Antique Airfield, including the Texas Chapter Choice.
The only sad note was the absence of Dennis Trone's Travel Air 3000. This Hisso powered Travel Air has been a favorite at Antique Airfield but was down for some engine work. Meanwhile Dennis had the Hisso powered Waco DSO here which was the 1994 AAA/APM Fly-In Grand Champion Antique.
Les DeLine, the owner/pilot of NC-6085, has been a regular at AAA/APM Fly-Ins going back to the Ottumwa Airport meets. He has flown a Waco EQC-6, Fairchild 71 (now in the APM), three different Howard DGA-15Ps, a Stearman C-3R, Staggerwing and the Travel Air 4000 types back to our Fly-Ins.
Les retired the first of 1995 from PSA/USAir after thirtyseven-and-a-half years of service as a line pilot. He started out flying to Mexico hauling lobster in a BT-13. Prior to going with PSA he flew for the Flying Tiger line for a year then was with AAXICO Airlines flying C-46s. His hobby other than antique airplanes has been racing and building up midget race cars for over thirty years.
In addition to the recognition of NC-6085, Les was the recipient of Antiquer of the Year award for 1995.
Robert L. Taylor