Pilot soars in restored vintage plane

2013-12-18T00:00:00Z Pilot soars in restored vintage planeBy Carmen Duarte Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

After spending more than three years refurbishing a Lockheed Vega — a collector’s item — pilot John Magoffin  took his baby out for a spin.

Magoffin, an American Airlines pilot who previously worked as an Alaskan bush pilot, was in high heaven as he flew Tuesday morning from Marana Regional Airport before family, friends, pilots and plane collectors.

The plane, built in 1933, with yellow wings, a polished aluminum fuselage and a red-and-white rudder flew smoothly over Tucson’s northwest side for 21 minutes in the morning, and about 45 minutes in the afternoon.

Magoffin flew solo in the single-engine plane, which seats six passengers, in the morning, and a professional photographer went up with him after lunch to take photos of the plane in flight.

“It was flawless,” said Magoffin, 60, letting out a laugh. “Once I settled in the airplane, I didn’t worry about very much, except the job at hand. I checked the instruments, taxied out and did the engine checks. The flights were flawless,” he said.

“I love planes,” said Magoffin, a pilot since 1975. “I wanted to be a pilot since I was 6 years old.”

The Lockheed Vega was the first plane built in 1927 by Lockheed, Magoffin said.

Magoffin said the refurbished plane had more than 10 owners. He purchased it in 1995 from Tommy Thomas, a World War II fighter pilot from Oklahoma City.

Magoffin would not reveal what the crashed plane cost him — only saying that he traded a Lockheed Electra for the Vega. Magoffin said it cost thousands of dollars to restore it and get it flying again. The plane hadn’t flown since the 1980s.

Magoffin, a certified mechanic, took part in the restoration alongside others, including Richard Barter,  the owner of Arizona Airframe.

He now plans to have the plane ready for use in movies, television shows and advertising deals.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at cduarte@azstarnet.com or 573-4104.

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