Bob Bagwell’s aviation story is one familiar to many. After he begged his parents for several days, they bought him a ride in a taildragger along with three other children at a local county fair. “After that,” said Bagwell, “my eyes have always been turned toward the skies.”
He started learning to fly when he was 16 years old, but soon ran out of money and had to content himself with aviation magazines and armchair flying to keep up with the trends.
Years went by, and once his children were out of school and on their own, he could afford to return to flight school. He also bought what he calls “a beautifully maintained 1976 Cessna 150” with a red, white, and blue paint scheme and earned his private pilot certificate in 2009.
He currently has 245 hours and flies mainly locally with a few statewide cross-country trips. He bought a 1965 Comanche 260 in 2011 and has been spending a fair amount of money making upgrades to it, starting with a three-blade Hartzell prop in 2012. In 2013 he started a nine-month project to replace everything on the panel so that “no steam gauges were left.” By April 2014, Bagwell said, “I finally have a modern airplane with a triple redundancy.” The total cost of the new glass panel was $81,000 and he and his wife flew coast to coast and back again.
Bagwell has an 84-year-old hangar neighbor who was friends with William Piper and helped design the Comanche. The neighbor also took possession and delivered the first Comanche off the assembly line from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, to Portland, Oregon. Bagwell said, “He was kind enough to explain to me why he is so biased in his love of Comanches: It has a solid single spar that runs from wing tip to wing tip for strength. Also he told and showed me how every surface throughout the entire airplane was zinc chromated against corrosion even before they were mated then riveted or bolted together which is to seaplane standards.”
Bagwell said he confirmed this information with his mechanic who went one step further by saying that annuals are cheaper on Comanches as there is typically no corrosion to inspect for and deal with. He added, “That also got my attention. Beyond that, I bought the Comanche because they are plentiful and a bargain for what you are getting compared to today's new planes. It is very responsive, downright fun and easy to fly, with no bad habits. It’s fast, roomy, comfortable and a relatively inexpensive fuel burn of 9 to 14 gallons per hour.” He has kept his 150, which he uses for sightseeing and “fun, low, slow flights.”
When it came time to insure his airplanes, Bagwell, an AOPA member for 20 years, said, “I choose AOPA Insurance because AOPA is the largest and best group of pilot representatives who are working to keep my flying rights protected and promoted. Their rates are also very competitive. They were very upfront and timely in responses and were kind to me over the phone. I would strongly encourage other pilots to give them a fair shake and help support AOPA.”
As for the future, Bagwell is looking to earn his instrument rating, volunteer for care flights, and help introduce young people to the pleasures of flight—to pay back the flight he took so many years ago.
Whether you fly low and slow aircraft or a faster, more complex airplane, AOPA Insurance has the right policy for you. For more information or a quick quote on aircraft insurance, talk to AOPA Insurance. For more information or to apply for a policy, visit online or call 800/622-2672. Don’t forget: You may qualify for a 5-percent discount just for being an AOPA member.