Mike Barron saves planes from recycling

The last two of Mike Barron's Grumman Albatrosses will not be flight worthy by an end-of-the-year deadline to remove the aircraft from an Arizona aircraft scrapyard.

Robin Carroll, the fixed base operator at Hannibal Regional Airport, said one of the planes, designated Dirt Ball, only lacks engines. The seventh of Barron's Albatrosses, called Dorita, needs a significant amount of equipment and work before it is ready to make the long flight back to Northeast Missouri.

Barron, owner and operator of Barron Aviation Private Flight Services at the Hannibal airport, took ownership of the rare planes more than a year ago. The commercial pilot’s seven planes likely represent the largest group of privately-owned Albatrosses in the United States.

The king-sized, twin-radial aircraft, which had been parked in the Arizona desert since 1986, were slated to be chopped up and recycled when Barron was offered the chance to buy them.

Barron was initially given until July 2018 to remove the planes, but earlier this year, he negotiated a deadline extension through the end of the year.

While Carroll does not believe the remaining two planes are at risk of being recycled, she is unsure what sort of an arrangement Barron has made with the operators of the aviation "bone yard" to allow his final two planes to remain parked there longer.

Barron and his son, Dillon, landed the first Albatross in Hannibal on May 2, months later than initially anticipated.

The planes, which are capable of landing on water or land, are 65 feet long and have a 100-foot wingspan. The planes' large size cause Barron to keep the aircraft at his grass airstrip in Perry.

Because neither of the Albatrosses still in Arizona is fully equipped, the engines and props from the most recently returned Albatross, are removed almost as soon as Barron can get the plane to Perry. Those items will then be trucked back to the desert airport, located outside of Tucson, and attached to Dirt Ball as Barron has time.