Bob Knight is a patient man. As chairman of the board of SUN ‘n FUN, he’s accustomed to long-term planning and delayed gratification.
In his business, Knight Industrial Equipment, he oversees the design and construction of bulk material handling equipment, like conveyor systems for cement plants.
And two years ago, Knight bought a 1951 T-28A Trojan (N145DK) he has yet to fly.
After purchasing the T-28A, he had it modified into a T-28B with a 1,425 horsepower engine, replaced the wheels, brakes, battery boxes, and prop.
Then he had it repainted by Foster’s Aircraft Refinishing, based in Lakeland.
“We put a Teflon coat to make it easy to clean,” he said. “If you look at other T-28s they usually have an oil stripe down the side.”
Knight’s T-28 has a Trojan helmet painted on the tail, in homage to the logo for his company, which has a logo of a knight’s helmet.
The T-28 holds 87-1/2 gallons of fuel per side.
“It burns 50 gallons an hour, 40 at cruise and it goes 300 knots, 260 at cruise,” said Knight as he gazed up at the gleaming aircraft, which was parked for display on the south side of the Warbird area at this year’s SUN ‘n FUN.
“Link Dexter is in charge of all the maintenance on this,” he said. “We just got it finished in time to show at SUN ‘n FUN. I don’t have any time in it. I’ll have to log 20 hours in it with Link Dexter to activate the insurance, to get a Letter of Authorization, kind of like a check ride. I want to fly in it the week after SUN ‘n FUN.”
When asked who he plans to fly with, Knight said, “My wife doesn’t think she can climb in and out. I will probably get ‘Lites’ checked out in it,” he said, referring to SUN ’n FUN President John “Lites” Leenhouts. “I fly to Oshkosh each year in my Bonanza with Lites.”
Knight said he bought the T-28 because “as chairman of the board, I wanted to build strong ties with the warbirds, so becoming one of them worked out.”
He bought the plane at an auction. The plane’s N-number includes his wife’s initials, he said, “So she’ll stop asking me how much we’re spending.”
In the manner of a Southern gentleman, he apologized for the “dirty tennis balls” stuffed in the exhaust stacks on both sides of the nose.
While posing for a photo between the prop and the leading edge of the wing, he said, “I probably should have gotten more tennis balls, but I ran out of money.”
With 5,500 flying hours behind him, Knight seems eager to add more in his new plane.