Big Bend Aviation Program receives airplane from donor

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(From left to right) Big Bend Chief Flight Instructor John Marc Swedburg and BBCC Foundation Executive Director LeAnne Parton accept the keys to the Beechcraft Sport B-19 from Ann and Kevin Peterson.

(From left to right) Big Bend Chief Flight Instructor John Marc Swedburg and BBCC Foundation Executive Director LeAnne Parton accept the keys to the Beechcraft Sport B-19 from Ann and Kevin Peterson.

MOSES LAKE – The Big Bend Community College Aviation Program has a new addition to its fleet thanks to a donation from a Seattle couple.

Kevin and Ann Peterson recently delivered a Beechcraft Sport B-19 aircraft to the Grant County International Airport.

“This aircraft will be put to use as soon as our mechanics can complete a thorough inspection and make sure it meets the standards of our current fleet,” said John Marc Swedburg, Big Bend chief flight instructor. “Hopefully it will see flights with the students in just a few short weeks.”

The plane was built in 1976 and purchased by the Petersons in 1999. For the past about 20 years, Kevin described the plane as his second car as they lived on San Juan Island and frequently commuted to Seattle, Portland and other regional destinations.

Use of the airplane was reduced when Kevin and Ann transitioned into retirement. Their daughter, Mari, used the aircraft as her trainer.

“We felt 1987L (the plane’s tail number) needed a home where she would be well cared for and returned to her role of training pilots,” Kevin stated. “We considered selling her but realized a private buyer might not provide the care and respect we gave the airplane and it might be abused.”

The Peterson’s connection with the Big Bend Aviation Program began when they first purchased the plane. The plane would be flown over to the Moses Lake Municipal Airport where David Link, a former Big Bend aviation maintenance technician, helped Kevin understand how to best maintain the aircraft.

“Dave (Link) shared the passion Big Bend had for the airplane and how challenging it was to keep the fleet viable now that the airplane is no longer produced,” Kevin said.

Swedburg said the aviation program is thankful for the generous gift.

“This aircraft not only provides a tool that our students can use to aid in their training, but is the best aircraft to train in,” Swedburg stated. “The Beechcraft are great aircraft that allow the students to receive skills that will transfer nicely to the next aircraft they will transition to in their careers. This gift will allow us to continue to train students with quality aircraft for years to come.”