Happy 2010 From Boots!!!!
Well folks, we are starting a brand new year, and are just as busy as ever despite the economy. (However, as a cat, I don’t really care much about any of that as long as I have food and a hanger to sleep in.) Barnstormer’s Workshop completed the long awaited Fairchild 24 project at the end of October, and I wanted to tell you a little about the owner of the airplane as he has an interesting life. The Fairchild is owned by Thomas Griffing, III. from Sandusky Ohio. Thomas is part of a family owned aviation business. Their company was founded by his grandfather, Harry T. Griffing, Sr. and his grandmother T. Sue Griffing in 1937 with a Piper J-2. Harry Sr. was a truck driver and drove between Cleveland and Chicago. The main route that was taken in those days was Route 6, which goes right by the airport in Sandusky, Ohio. The airport had been there since 1928 and Harry became interested in aviation while driving past. He learned to fly in his home town of Canton, Ohio, in an Aeronca C-3. After acquiring his license, he met Sue at the truck stop 1/2 mile from the airport in Sandusky, where she was a waitress. They later married and formed the company together in 1937 when Harry taught his bride to fly. Their main business at the time was flight instruction and they soon became a Piper Aircraft dealer and remained so until the early 1990’s. When WWII broke out, Harry used a Waco UPF-7 that he owned to teach people to fly for the war under the Civilian Pilot Training Program in Toledo, Ohio. Sue stayed home and ran the business while Harry was gone.
Harry T. Griffing, Jr. (Tom), Thomas’ dad, was born in 1946 and was taught to fly by Sue, his mother. Sue handled most of the longer charter trips for the company that were beginning to become more frequent at this time, and Harry Sr. was concentrating on flight instruction. Harry, Jr. grew up in Tri-Pacers, Apaches, and Comanches. Harry, Jr. also had a sister, Melodie, who learned to fly but focused her attention on the bookkeeping end of the business. She retired in 2006. The Griffing’s company today provides service to the six Lake Erie islands that have airports. Their fleet includes 2 Archers, 1 Saratoga, a Britten-Norman Islander, and two Beech King Air B200’s for charter flights.
Harry, Jr. married and Harry T. Griffing III (Thomas), was born in 1982. Harry hung around with his grandmother and grandfather, and as a result, became fascinated with classic aircraft. Thomas has a brother, Lee, who flight instructs with a Warrior. Harry’s sister is also involved in the business with bookkeeping. As for Thomas and his family, they purchased the Fairchild in early 2002 from Camille Barrett in Louisville, KY at an estate sale
We love to hear about other family run aviation businesses, and have enjoyed getting to know the Griffings during the restoration of the Fairchild. As you can see from the photos, the airplane is beautiful.