The Breakfast Club

The Knife & Fork

Breakfast Club Visits Prescott, Nancy's Skyway Cafe

10 Aug 2002
by Warren McIlvoy

As I have mentioned in an earlier issue of The Knife & Fork, Prescott was the "birth place" of the Breakfast Club .  It was in December of 1993, while sitting at a table with a couple of other Aero Mech Flying Club members, that we felt that there was something missing is the current Club activities, or for that matter, the lack of a cohesive club atmosphere.  While talking about this problem, we decided that we would fly someplace, on a regular basis, if only to have breakfast.  From that idea, the Breakfast Club started its regular monthly outings with the inaugural event the following month to Avra Valley (now known as Marana Northwest Regional) .  But, besides this being a special place for us, it also provided an uncommon opportunity for me.

About two or three weeks prior to the date of the event, my wife and I were having Sunday morning breakfast at the Deer Valley Airport Restaurant .  While sitting there, I noticed Arv Schultz sitting there with another person and having breakfast also.  From prior conversations with Arv, I knew that he wanted to participate in one of our fly-outs.  But because of the relatively slow speed of this WACO, he wanted it to be a location that did not take an inordinate amount of time to get there.  Well, the light bulb come on and I thought that Prescott might be just the ticket for him.  With that in mind, I invited Arv to join us for the outing to Prescott.  Arv agreed that this might be a great opportunity for him to join in on the Breakfast Club fun.  Arv mentioned that he would have a vacant front seat if I knew of anyone that might be interested.  At the moment, I did not, but I told him that I would ask around our group to see if anyone was interested. 

It wasn't ten minutes later that my wife suggested that I might be interested as I had taken a ride in a Navy N3N that was being offered between DVT and SDL.  Well, the light bulb grew brighter.  I thought that this opportunity might provide some good material for the next (this) issue of TheKnife & Fork .  On Monday morning, I e-mailed Arv and told him that I had found an interested party for the front seat in his WACO.  It was me.  Via the e-mail, we set up a time and place at Deer Valley Airport to meet.  As it turns out, his hangar is at the east end of the second row, just to your right as you pull-in from the first gate.  When I had arrived, Arv was there with a friend, wiping down his pride and joy.  The appearance of the aircraft reflected the meticulous care that Arv had affectionately rendered to this aircraft.  The aircraft, affectionately known as a WACO, is the product of the Weaver Aircraft Company, I believe from someplace in Ohio, and is an original 1940, YPF7.  Arv bought it about four years ago, essentially already restored, with a 245 hp Jacobs engine.  But Arv liked more power, and who doesn't, so he replaced the 245hp mill with a 275hp Jacobs.

For the benefit of those who don't know much about Arv Schultz, and I find that hard to believe, Arv retired from the Captain's seat with Northwest Airlines in 1994.  He spent his last years with the airlines, flying MD 80's.  Arv learned to fly in the 60's and plied his time flying Bonanzas.  Within the last year or so, Arv was elected to the Presidency of The Arizona Pilots Association and is the Editor and Publisher of America's Flyways, "committed to the propagation and preservation of aviation.  For a mere $20 a year, you can join APA and get this great magazine as a benefit of your membership.  A truly great deal unless you consider your membership in the Breakfast Club is free, which is even harder to beat.  You can give Arv a call at 602-275-1016 and he will gladly answer any questions that you might have regarding APA membership and a magazine subscription. 

When the primping of the aircraft and fueling chores were completed, it was time to "saddle-up" and get a move on.  It was the "getting-in" process that I quickly learned some of the subtle differences between the N3N and the WACO.  The N3N had "step holes" in the side of the fuselage that you used to "step over" the cabin rim.  The WACO had a side door but the seat took-up about half the opening and wing overlaid to forward cockpit.  With me being 6-3 and 250#'s, squeezing in and contorting as needed, I finally compressed myself in between the upper wing and the seat.  Once in place, the seat was plenty wide enough but there was not much knee space left over.  Now belted-in and Arv situated in the rear cockpit, it was time to start the big round engine.  Puffs of blue/gray smoke signaled to commencement of the staccato cadence of the big Jacobs.  I had donned my ANR headset and the noise level at taxi power was very manageable.  Arv deftly taxied out to 7 left using the back and forth motion that is associated with most tail wheel aircraft as forward visibility over the cowling, is non existent.  The run-up seemed a bit abbreviated since there are not many systems to check-out.  Once all was right with the world, Arv called tower to let them know that we were ready to "rumble".

The tower acknowledged and we were "cleared for take-off".  Arv taxied out and lined-up with the runway center line and gently apply full power.  Acceleration is quick and in short order the tail came up.  In less time that it took to think about it, we were airborne.  I quickly discovered that my ANR headset could not handle the abundance of noise that was being generated by both the engine and the passing airstream.  I am not sure if it was just the frequency range of the noise or the combination of engine and wind that made normal conversation, almost impossible.  I could barely distinguish the radio calls from other Breakfast Club aircraft so I had to interpolate what was being said, for better or for worse.  As we headed to the northwest, we climbed to about 7500'.  The view out the sides of the forward cockpit was terrific with the views being framed by the various wires and struts of the biwing configuration.  The one small problem created by the rather low forward windscreen, was that the wind over the top, tried to dislodge my headset so I had to scrunch down a bit but when I would stick my head up to look out, I had to hold on to it to keep it in place.  I soon discovered that by disconnecting the mic jack, the noise stopped and I could hear the "informational" chat that is part of the Breakfast Club routine.  It was just a case of mastering the task of keeping my head down, pressing the push to talk button on the stick, and pushing-in the mic jack to talk, and then pulling it out to hear any replies.  Worked for me.

The Prescott tower cleared us to enter a left downwind for 21 left.  As we exited the runway and entered the taxiway, Arv began the familiar "zig-zag" routine for forward visibility.  As we neared the ramp parking area that was southwest of the terminal building, it was plainly obvious the Arv's WACO, was the hit of the fly-in.  A number of people were standing out on the ramp taking pictures of the big red biplane as we slowly taxied-in.  After Arv shut-down the rumbling radial, it now became a case of trying to figure out how to exit my seat.  With the door in the open position, I set my right knee onto the seat, leaned my shoulders and head over the starboard side of the plane, and located my left leg out the open cockpit door.  It now became a case of inching myself out until I could place my left foot on the nonskid walkway on the lower wing.  Once situated with my foot on the wing, it was just a matter of getting the rest of my parts into the clear behind the upper wing.  Piece of cake.  Some people were still taking pictures while we exited the aircraft, maybe some of those recording my nimble exit of the aircraft, did not turn-out, let's hope so.  As expected, Arv's red WACO was the center of attention on the ramp as everyone gathered there while waiting for the rest of the group to arrive.  When it appeared that the majority of the group had arrived, we headed enmass towards the terminal building and Nancy's Skyway Café. 

Nancy's is the quintessential airport café.  The decor is all aviation with countless models of aircraft hanging from the ceiling.  We were seated at a long tale in the center of the room but we still had good views of the ramp area which is a major requirement for an airport restaurant.  The prices are very reasonable and the portions are ample for a pilot's apatite. And of course, there is the ample supply of "rocket fuel" to warm the spirits on a cold winters day although the temperatures were in the low 80's this morning, the coffee was still appreciated.  I did not expect a large turn-out for this event since Prescott is relatively close-by but we still have 26 people in attendance with BC-310 maintaining their "tail-end turtle" status.  Way to go James.

After breakfast, it was back the aircraft.  I got back in the front cockpit with a little bit more agility.  I think that I almost have this down now.  After the big Jacobs came to life, it was the same taxing routine and a departure to the southeast from runway 21 left.  The temperatures at altitude were just about right for an open cockpit biplane.  But as we descended into the pattern at Deer Valley Airport, the air heated-up but it was not to uncomfortable.  Arv had me lean to the right side so that he would have a modicum of forward visibility during the landing which he handled with aplomb.  He danced on the rudders to keep the WACO from swapping ends and we turned-off towards the north hangars.  We exited the WACO and Arv got his garden tractor hitched to the tail wheel and towed the aircraft into this hangar.  The end of another great experience and another great Breakfast Club event.

The Prescott Gang

What's Next?

The Breakfast Club event for September, will be an encore visit to Monument Valley and Gouldings.  Although our last visit was a weekend affair, this will only be for our usual breakfast.  However, if you would wish to make a weekend out of it, you could not go wrong with an overnight stay at this lodge.  October will see the Breakfast Club make a return trip to Marble Canyon Lodge with a crossing of the Grand Canyon .  This is always a favorite spot due to the world class scenery along the route.  That's all for now but remember, fly safe.

Below are links to some pictures that Al Feldner sent to me.  Just click on the link to view the picture.  Thanks Al for the great photos.

Waco Shot 1        Waco Shot 2        Waco Shot 3        Waco Shot 4        Waco Shot 5        Waco Shot 6

Breakfast group 1        Breakfast group 2        Breakfast group 3        Breakfast group 4        Breakfast group 5


A week after the Breakfast Club event to Prescott, Arv Schultz flew his WACO to Williams for a meeting of the Arizona Pilots Association.  This meeting also provided a Wings program on flight safety.  On the trip back to the valley, about 9.7 miles east of Prescott, the engine on his plane, suddenly went south.  No warnings, just quit.  Arv skillfully maneuvered his aircraft to a landing on a dirt road bounded by barbed wire fences on both sides.  Arv said that the fence on the right side was closer to the road that the one on the left but the road was bordered by a ditch on both sides.  He could not move to the left due to the ditch and his right wing snagged the fence on the right causing the aircraft to flip over.  Arv and his passenger escaped with no injuries but the WACO was badly damaged.  Arv said that they were picked-up by some folks that were just out sightseeing.  Arv said that there will be some major repair work required on the aircraft and a lot of time. 

I am quit sure that I can speak for the entire Breakfast Club membership, when I say that we are very thankful that he and his passenger were unhurt and that someday, we will see his beautiful aircraft back in the air again and at another Breakfast Club event.