Back in the late 60s the company I flew for purchased an Turbo Commander 680V which was originally operated in Africa and brought back to the United States and purchased by my employer. The pressurization system was powered by hydraulic pumps rather than using bleed air, and these pumps gave me a great deal of trouble. Enter Maurice Hovious. Maurice founded Lakala Aviation in Kalamazoo, MI back in 1962 and was the local go-to guy for Aero Commanders. We quickly formed a great friendship which remains to this day. Later Maurice sold his business to Kal Aero in Kalamzoo, which in turn eventually built a large operation in Battle Creek which was then sold to Duncan Aviation, the present owner. Maurice was not only a pilot, but a licensed aircraft mechanic as well, and perhaps the most talented aircraft mechanic I have ever met. He and I struggled to keep that bird flying for quite a while, but never were able to lick the problem.
So we took the airplane to Oklahoma City and converted it to bleed air pressurization. That solved that problem, and during the upgrade we finally discovered the cause of all our troubles. While in Africa some ants built a huge ant hill in the air intake which came in from the top of the aircraft. Once we cleaned that out and finished the modification that problem was solved and never rose its ugly head again. Instead, some avionics work was done on the airplane as well to update them, and on the flight home from Oklahoma City the radios quit working. We were IFR, of course, but the ceiling was high enough in Battle Creek so it worked out OK. Turned out the ground connection was loose and kept cutting the radios out until we fixed that problem. From then on it was a good airplane. Maurice went on to even bigger things. Much bigger things! It turns out Maurice's talents enabled him to rebuild Ford Tri Motor aircraft, and the one above was built for Island Airlines which flies them out to Put In Bay in Lake Erie. But there is more to come. I spoke with Judy Hovious today, and we are all going to get together soon, probably in early November, and I will continue on with this story about an extraordinary aviator by the name of Maurice Hovious. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 A commercial aircraft is a vehicle capable of supporting itself aerodynamically and economically at the same time. — William B. Stout, designer of the Ford Tri-Motor. ps: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter "All Things Aviation" here!