One of the first rules of a fly-in is don’t touch the aircraft. Seeing an airplane on display with a PLEASE TOUCH sign on it makes you wonder if you’ve fallen through the Looking Glass and are about to have tea with the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat. But that’s what David Denton of Siloam, Arkansas, wants people to do with his 1951 Call Air A-2.
Denton is one of those people who believes that owning an aircraft is transitory — you are part of its existence — and, as such, says he is compelled to share “his” aircraft with as many people as he can.
“It’s all right, you can go inside,” he said to a little boy who paused hesitantly by the step-stool that was placed by the open door to the cockpit at last year’s Sun ‘n Fun.
The annual Spring fly-in was a perfect venue for sharing, said Denton, adding that this was the first time he’d flown the airplane some 977 miles for the event. “Top ground speed was 81 miles per hour,” he said. “We had a bit of a headwind.”
“It’s a Call Air A-2, I’ve owned it about four years,” he explained. “I bought it off eBay. It is one of seven Call Air A-2s still flying in the world.
“It was a corporate airplane back in the day,” continued Denton, pointing to the logo for the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission emblazoned on the side of the red and white low-wing. “It was designed for ranchers and farmers who would be taking off and landing in the sage brush at high field elevations.”
On the tail is the image of a cowboy on a bronco, but that’s not the only art on the airplane, says Denton.
“I wanted nose art, but I didn’t think my wife would appreciate it on the airplane, so I did this,” he said, unlatching the forward baggage door to show a picture of a Varga cowgirl, circa 1951.
The baggage-door art isn’t the only interior surprise. Inside the cockpit the bench seat is natural cowhide. If you didn’t know better you’d swear the cow was sitting curled up on the floor.
Denton was eager to get people to sit inside the airplane to see the details, such as the leather interior and the tube running down the fuselage where fishing poles can be safely transported. The tube is formed with wood and looks a lot like a fish trap. “I’ve tried to keep it as original as I can,” said Denton. “It has the original Lycoming O-290-C engine.”
The propeller is a McCauley, and a bit misleading to look at. It looks like it is made of wood, but when you tap on it, there is the unmistakable ring of metal. “I had an artist wood grain it,” said Denton.
Although it was his first trip to Sun ‘n Fun, Denton already had the showmanship aspect of the vintage area down pat. Next to the airplane were a pair of wooden skis and a poster of the January 1950 cover of “Flying” magazine, which featured a Call Air on skis.
“The airplane on the cover is November 2915 Victor. Ours is one farther down the road, it is one six Victor,” Denton explained. “The skis were made by the Call Air factory. They are different from most snow skis in that the tires and wheels of the airplane do not have to come off. They sit down in the skis. You just put the airplane on the skis and you are ready to go.”
Two years ago, the A-2 brought back an award from the antique aircraft show in Blakesburg, Iowa, in the Corporate Aviation category. From Sun ‘n Fun he brought home an Honorable Mention in the Classic category, 1945 to 1955.