Friday, July 10, 2009

The Ugly Duckling

Once upon a time there was a really good Bonanza that had what was left of a dated interior. The seats looked in pretty good shape for the shape they were in and Captain John said he could live with them but I know both of us well enough that a new interior was just around the corner.

The back seats were not too bad ... the front seats were pretty tired ... and the overall yellow and rust and brown just screamed 1970s.

We looked high and low for an interior shop. One shop wanted to re-use our old foam and promised an outstanding result (how?) and a reputable vendor said they'd make up the covers and we could install them ourselves (I know how those things go).

Finally, we settled on Enrique's Custom Upholstery at the Levy County Airport (X60) in Williston FL. Henry (Enrique) and his family came to the US years ago and eventually found their way to a horse farm near Williston. They had been in the upholstery business in Mexico before coming to the United States and after trying to make ends meet for a long time, returned to what they knew best. The transition to aircraft interiors took some time but they have created some beautiful work and have an impressive portfolio. Henry, his wife and son work together in the family business and the work is coming in!

Henry and Dave (Fisher) worked together for a helicopter operator and went out on their own later. They've been in the service hangar for several years and are now leaseholders. The dream is alive for these guys and they work hard - even harder in these historic economic times. Dave installed a new windshield, new front side windows and new door seals while Henry and his family did the interior

The old front seats were not in all that bad of shape. Maybe some slipcovers would have been OK but we'd still be stuck with the sidewall panels and all that yellow.

SHE took one look and decided not to fly in the airplane. It smelled old. The carpet had a lot of old oil in it from who knows when.

Where I saw classic, SHE saw dated.

Son John's bride to be has been tactful enough but I saw something similar there.

There was only one way out.

Henry and Dave to the rescue!

The old interior was removed completely. The old insulation was removed and with that all the "old airplane" odor was effectively gone.

Dave took out the old front side windows and windshield and replaced them with new ones, tinted light grey.

The old insulation was replaced with a new product that is not only a temperature insulator, it also is a noise attenuator. Super soundproofing, he calls it, and it WORKS!

The difference is just astounding.

The new side windows are made without the metal frame that came with the original windows. The difference in the size of the window is really apparent.

I think Henry did a great job of re-shaping the rear seats to bring them into the 21st centuryThe overall effect brightens the airplane considerably and gives it a much more pleasant first impression.

SHE says she likes it.

And I like that.