Mike Barron owns seven Grumman Albatrosses

March 4 was to have been a big day for Mike Barron, who had hoped to fly the first of his seven Grumman Albatrosses to Hannibal last weekend. However, when the sun set Sunday the plane was still parked in the Arizona desert, rather than on the tarmac at Hannibal Regional Airport.

Among those hopeful of seeing the plane dubbed Princess safely touch down at its new home was Robin Carroll, the fixed base operator at the Hannibal airport.

Late last week Carroll sent out an advisory that reported Barron, owner and operator of Barron Aviation Private Flight Services at the Hannibal airport, and his son, Dillon, were planning to take Princess up for a test flight on Saturday morning, March 3.

“If all goes well, they will be flying her home on Sunday,” she wrote.

Unfortunately a significant problem arose.

“They had her up for a little bit doing a test flight. That is when they realized she was leaking all of her oil out of the props,” said Carroll. “They are bringing them (props) home to get overhauled.”

Carroll, who in November had expressed hope that the first plane would arrive in Hannibal in December or January, would not hazard a guess when the 65-foot long plane with a wingspan of 100 feet will be ready to fly again, let alone be up to making the long trip from the Pinal Airpark Airport, located outside of Tucson, Ariz., to Hannibal.

“I have no idea how long it will take to get them (props) overhauled. The next test flight will not be able to be done until the props are back on her,” she said.

While a good deal of time and effort have gone into getting Princess airworthy, Carroll reports that some work has also taken place on Barron’s six other king-sized, twin-radial aircraft.

“We have been working on all of them doing hydraulic tests and gear swings, changing tires and a lot of other stuff that I could not even begin to list,” said Carroll, who spent time last summer in Arizona helping Barron renovate Princess.

Barron, whose seven planes could possibly be the largest flock of privately-owned Albatrosses in the United States, if not the world, now has less than a year to get them all out of the aircraft “boneyard” where they were slated to be chopped up and recycled when he was offered the chance to buy them. The planes had been sitting in the desert since 1986 when Barron acquired them.

Most Albatrosses spent their entire careers in military service, either for the Air Force, Navy or Coast Guard. Barron’s Albatrosses are seven of 13 planes taken out of military and modified by Grumman to qualify for civilian service.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com