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Aviation Stories by Ron Kilber

Southwest Aviator Magazine Silver City, New Mexico

A Mountain Hideaway in the Land of Enchantment

Story and photos by Ron Kilber

Reprinted from Southwest Aviator Magazine, Jan/Feb 2005

If Billy the Kid were alive today, he would see that the land and mountains havenít changed much since the late 1800s around his childhood boomtown home of Silver City. Even many of the brick buildings of his time still stand in town today. But gone are the silver miners who gave birth to Silver City, back when it was still an Apache Indian camp in 1870, 42 years before New Mexico received statehood.

Custom Planes Magazine Sept. 2004 Solving the High Cost of Horsepower
A 5,000-hour TBO engine for less than twenty cents on the dollar

Story and Photos by Ron Kilber

Reprinted from the Sept. 2004 issue of Custom Planes Magazine (page 54).

Choosing a powerplant for an experimental aircraft is a painful, bloodletting process. The cost of horsepower today can easily outpace the cost of your airplane alone. God help if you need 400 hp -- Continental or Lycoming will shake you down for $150,000 or more.

But life doesn't have to be this way. There's a surprisingly viable, 400-hp, 8-cylinder engine alternative thatís waiting for you. It's the LS1 engine from General Motors, first developed for the Corvette back in 1992.

For complete story, click on the following links:
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Parker Pioneer SAR Finds Area Residents Lost in Desert Overnight

Story and Photos by Ron Kilber

Reprinted from the September 24, 2003, issue of the Parker Pioneer newspaper, Parker, Arizona.

When my phone rings at 9:30 a.m., I learn that La Paz County Search and Rescue (SAR) needs a pilot and plane to search for two people who've been stranded in the desert overnight somewhere southwest of Bouse.

SW Aviator Mar-Apr 2003 Southwest Geoglyphs
Fragile Secrets of the Past

Story and Photos by Ron Kilber

Reprinted from the Mar-Aprl 2003 issue of Southwest Aviator Magazine (page 62).

A few years after Charles Lindbergh flew his Spirit of St. Louis from New York to France, another pilot flying along the Colorado River first noticed giant drawings on the desert floor north of Blythe, California. One of the earth figures measured 176 feet in length. Since then, more than two-hundred images have been discovered along the river from Nevada to the Gulf of California. All told, six-hundred-plus geoglyphs have been recorded in the Southwest and nearby areas of Mexico.

Blythe IntaglioGeoglyphs of the SW Desert

Story and Photos By Ron Kilber

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

It's not known if geoglyphs are 200 years old or two thousand. These giant ground paintings depict geometric designs, human form and animal figures. Many have withstood the test of time, but others have fallen victim to motorcycles, SUV's and quads. If they're ancient, it's interesting that some of these huge earth drawings, known also as intaglios (in tar yoe), have survived wind, rain and storm, only to be swamped in recent years by progress and technology.

P-38 LightningParker Fly-In (1-11-03)

By Ron Kilber

Saturday, January 11, 2003

When there's less than one hour of daylight left, it's time to pack up and get ready to fly home. But a mid-air collision occurs less than a mile east of mid-field, forcing the airport manager to close the airport. A Hellcat allegedly sheared the wing from a second airplane, which crashed to the ground in an area in full view of spectators.

Serene FieldSerene Great Annual Fly-In

An Indian Hills Airpark Great Fly-Out

By Ron Kilber

Saturday, January 4, 2003

The airport is one of dozens that can be found in the Rainbow Valley, most built from scratch by rugged, independent, survival-minded pilots who just want to be left alone to enjoy life without rubbing shoulders with society's misfits, which seem to be growing exponentially in numbers as the world's population continues to explode.

Tomahawk Truck StopTomahawk Truck Stop (Mile Marker 45, I-10, Arizona Outback)"

An Indian Hills Airpark Great Breakfast Fly-Out

By Ron Kilber

Sunday, December 29, 2002

The Tomahawk landing strip is a mixture of hard-packed dirt and sand. It's an excellent field -- when dry. If it's still wet from a rainstorm, beware!

Indian Hills Airpark Go here for recent stories about fun at Indian Hills Airpark (2AZ1)! Read about Ron's adventures with friends to little know airports (some secret) in Arizona's great Outback in the western reaches of the state.

Alcan Book Review: "Wings Over The Alaska Highway"

A photographic history of aviation on the Alaska Highway

Reveiwed By Ron Kilber

July 7, 2001

"Wings Over The Alaska Highway" would be good enough if it were simply a history of the Alaska Highway. But the addition of the aviation element behind the WWII Alaska-Canada Military Highway (Alcan) makes this monumental work really fly. It's a fabulous read with more than 200 beautiful photographs, chronicling the early history of the Alcan Highway to its popularity today as an air route for VFR pilots flying to and from Alaska.

Custom Planes Aug 2001 Care and Repair of Acrylic Aircraft Windows

Story and Photos by Ron Kilber

Reprinted from the August 2001 issue of CUSTOM PLANES Magazine (page 62).

We cap off this month's offering with an interesting piece by Ron Kilber, who used readily available refinishing kits to take the scrathes out of his windows and windshield of his Cessna 150. Very interesting reading.
Norm Goyer, Editor, CUSTOM PLANES Magazine

Custom Planes June 2001 Balancing Aircraft Wheels

Story and Photos by Ron Kilber

Reprinted from the June 2001 issue of CUSTOM PLANES Magazine (page 60).

Ron Kilber, our friend and contributor from Arizona, decided it was high time to get the shake, rattle and roll out of his airplane's wheels and tires. They were getting so out of balance, he was afraid the weldments might shake loose. Being a thrifty (and talented) builder, Kilber designed and built his own wheel balancing rig. He explains how simple it is to fabricate and that it's easy to use, but the best part is that it works. There are other benefits to having balanced wheels other than getting rid of the shake. Read all about it courtesy of our good building friend, Ron Kibler.
Norm Goyer, Editor, CUSTOM PLANES Magazine

Custom Planes April 2001 Aircraft Charging Systems
Understanding your alternator system is the key to successful troubleshooting.

Story and illustrations by Ron Kilber

Reprinted from the April 2001 issue of CUSTOM PLANES Magazine (page 55).

Alternators and their distant cousin, the obsolete generator, are some of those thingamajigs under the cowling that we tend to forget until the plane won't start or the lights go dim over the High Sierras on a moonless night. Sometimes if we can understand more about the workings of those complicated gadgets, we'll take better care of them. We asked on of our contributors, Ron Kilber, to lay some knowledge on our poor electronics-deprived minds. What arrived in the pretty red, white and blue truck the other day was more than we expected. It was a Ph.D. course on alternators. OK, troops, now you will know all there is to know about the little silver drum spinning merily along with the help from a belt. You know the part that costs $39 at Pep Boys and $339 at your favorite airplane parts store? That little label on the alternator costs lots of money to make after all.
Norm Goyer, Editor, CUSTOM PLANES Magazine

Ailiners Cover Planes, Trains and the Grand Canyon
... plus masked men and marshals on horseback

Story by Ron Kilber
  Reprinted from Jan-Feb 2000 issue of AIRLINERS MAGAZINE.

Although Farwest Airlines is a brand new carrier in 1999, its DNA had been lurking behind the scenes for more than ten years. In fact, little did Max and Thelma Biegert know that when they loaned money on a railroad right-of-way, they not only would eventually end up historic-train tycoons, but they would own their own airline, too.

Private Pilot Nov 1999 SpeedBird
A turbine-powered 1948 Luscombe is the new mascot of the Don Luscombe Aviation History Foundation.

Story by Ron Kilber

Reprinted from the November 1999 issue of PRIVATE PILOT Magazine (page 62).

Now boasting a 150-hp Apex gas turbine powerplant, modifications have also been made to the airframe to give this really fast classic a streamlined appearance. And with a modern turboprop engine, it flies like no other Luscombe.

Navaho Bridge Marble Canyon, Arizona
... a great destination at the bottom of the Grand Canyon

Story by Ron Kilber

Without a Navajo Bridge today, any traveler wanting to cross the Colorado River wouldn't fare any better than one of western-pioneer life during the late 1800s. In fact, s/he'd be worse off because Lees Ferry (4.4 miles upstream -- maybe 6 by road), which figured prominently in the exploration and settlement of the surrounding canyon country, no longer is in operation today.

Custom Planes Aug 1999 A Wing, A Prayer and A CallAir
1945 CallAir Flies After 41-Year Nap

Story by Ron Kilber

Reprinted from the August 1999 issue of CUSTOM PLANES Magazine (page 28).

"A Wing, A Prayer and A CallAir" is about a terrific WWII vet who spent 7 years in late retirement rebuilding an airplane. What a testament to the rewards of hard work, dedication and unrelenting tenacity resulting in a CallAir today in better showroom condition than when it was brand new in 1945

Montezuma Air Park Montezuma Air Park, AZ

Reprinted from

Fly 100 miles north of Phoenix and you'll find some of the most exclusive aviation real estate in the world. It's Montezuma Air Park, a fly-in gated community that offers the kind of lifestyle that most pilots can only dream about. AVweb regular Ron Kilber describes his recent visit to this pilot's paradise.

Nogales, Mexico Nogales With The "Breakfast Club"

Reprinted from

Regular AVweb contributor Ron Kilber gets up at oh-dark-thirty to fly copilot on a day trip to Nogales, Ariz., with Don Downin, a member of the 100-member-strong Phoenix-area "Breakfast Club," which has selected this tiny and modern international airport as a destination for its monthly hundred-dollar getaway. Situated in a mountainous region on the U.S.-Mexican border, Nogales International Airport is a quiet sanctuary with a marvelous little airport cafť that serves as a splendid venue for camaraderie and hangar flying.

Buffalo X-Country to Buffalo Bill Territory (Part 1)

Reprinted from

Ron Kilber's June '98 X-Country from Arizona to Wyoming over some of the most spectacular country in the world, including Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, the Colorado Rockies and Devils Tower.

Western Landscape X-Country to Buffalo Bill Territory (Part 2)

Reprinted from

Return flight from Wyoming to Arizona via Canyonlands, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Rainbow Bridge, San Francisco Peaks and terra cotta Sedona.

Logo A DC-3 Odyssey

Retracing the North Atlantic Route of WWII Aviators. An odyssey of one DC-3 flown by a crew of five on June 22, 1997 across the North Atlantic via Greenland and Iceland to a museum on the European Continent.

Sedona Airport Sunday Brunch AT Sedona, AZ

Reprinted from

Ron Kilber's April 20, 1997 day-trip to the Arizona red-rock country with Genette, Dawn and Mark. Located midway between Prescott and Flagstaff, the mesa-top Sedona Airport is gateway to one of the most visually stunning and geologically fascinating locales in the Southwest. The airport restaurant offers superb food and a spectacular view.

Payson Airport Sunday Brunch At Payson, AZ

Reprinted from

Ron Kilber's January 19, 1997 narrative of his day-trip with Genette, Dawn and Mark to one of Arizona's favorite $100-hamburger getaways (or omelettes or Belgian waffles if you prefer) situated at the 5,000-foot level at the base of the majestic Mogollon Rim. The airport restaurant offers tasty food and a panoramic view. --Mike Busch, Editor, AVweb

Ercoupe Alaska Flying Sabbatical (Part 1)

Reprinted from

First installment of a most entertaining account of Ron Kilber's May 1982 flying sabbatical trip to Alaska, solo in an antique and cozy Ercoupe. In this episode, the author flies from Bellevue, Washington, to Anchorage, Alaska -- a trip that involves a minor mechanical problem, large quantities of Moosehead beer, and some unexpected but not altogether unpleasant encounters en route. --Mike Busch, Editor, AVweb

Alaska Highway Alaska Flying Sabbatical (Part 2)

Reprinted from

In this episode, the author recounts his adventures (and misadventures) exploring Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula, then starts heading for home along the Alcan Highway but runs smack into serious weather that puts a successful outcome to the trip in serious doubt. --Mike Busch, Editor, AVweb

Alaska Flying Sabbatical (Part 3)

Reprinted from

In this episode, the author meets an airborne member of the RCMP and discovers the adventure of the treacherous Trench, out-smarts horses on a dirt strip, and experiences a landing mishap in a tiny Cascade Mountain community. --Mike Busch, Editor, AVweb

© Copyright 1996 - 2003 Ron Kilber All rights reserved.