N9528B S/N 32825 A Cessna 180 A tail dragger / float plane 4 place aircraft was ordered by the Hughes Tool Co. and manufactured in the Cessna manufacturing plant in Wichita , Kansas during the first week of March 1957. On March 7th, a Thursday, 28B (9528B) was test flown. Immediately after its successful inaugural flight 28B was mounted with a set of EDO 2870 floats and painted with the Hughes Tool Company colors: ivory, grey and gold. Jerry C Wade A&E 1037773 painted and installed the floats and would do most all maintenance to N9528B during its time with Hughes Tool Co. 28B would spend the next 8 years in New Iberia , Louisiana making its living as a corporate floatplane for the Hughes Tool Co. It is unclear if Howard Hughes Jr. ever flew 28B.
N9528B was purchased by Modern Furniture Co. in Elizabethton , Tenn. In 1965 where it remained in service as a floatplane until being purchased by Fay Short of Bethel Alaska in 1985. Mr. Short used it as his personal aircraft where it remained on floats until bringing it to Anchorage to sell in 1989. By this time 28B was in need of lots of TLC with a worn out engine, prop, interior. It was in the fall of 1989 that I came across 28B sitting along the shores of Lake Hood in Anchorage AK with a “for sale” sign stuck to its window where I envisioned an aircraft with a rich history needing a new home and many more stories to be made.
After the purchase was made N9528B made one 4-minute flight to Merrill Field where it was immediately disassembled. The engine was removed, wings, tail surfaces, windows, interior, everything that could be removed was. When it was stripped down to a shell, all the old paint and primer was then removed bringing it back to its original bright aluminum surface. From this point on and for the next 6 months the rebuild process took place with many hundreds of hours of work rebuilding the engine, control surfaces, cables, radio equipment, fuel tanks, tail surfaces, interior, pulleys, rivets, controls, windows, etching, priming, painting, stripes, decals, seat belts, tie downs, engine mounts and accessories. By the time we were done I knew N9528B inside and out and 28B needed a name, I choose Alaska Traveler which seem to fit very well.
To handle winter conditions 28B was fitted with skis and strong gear that allows it to land and take off in snow. The engine also has a special electrical plug that when plugged in heats the engine compartment and battery. Even with the outside temperatures at –40 degrees below zero the engine stays a balmy 98 degrees F. Special insulation and engine covers help to retain this heat during the night keeping it warm for an early morning departure.
Because of the lack of fuel stops along the way 28B has extended range fuel tanks that on wheels can take it up to a 950 miles with out stopping for fuel.
Many times 28B will take cargo or repair parts for a U-Haul customer stranded along the highway. To accommodate these parts the seats come out quickly and are replaced with special tie down hooks and cargo nets to keep every thing in its place when the winds kick up making for a bouncy ride.
N9528B spends its winter life on skis and summers on floats taking many large loads and hauling people to many different places. To help it do all this 28B has a large engine that is fuel injected putting out over 300 Horse Power. Attached to the engine is a large 86 inch 3 bladed propeller to pull it up and out of the water and over the mountains when needed.
To increase the weight that can be put into 28B, 36 inches were added to the wing tips to increase its gross weight up to 2950 pounds. Giving it the capabilities to carry in excess of a 1000 pounds of fuel, people and gear while on wheels.
The weather in Alaska and Yukon can change very quickly making navigation difficult. For this reason 28B is IFR (instrument flight certified) certified and its pilot kept current to help get me back out of bad weather and to my destination.