Sun Lakes Aero Club members hear about restoring antique aircraft

Desert Rat Aviation owner Andy Estes was guest speaker at the Sun Lakes Aero Club February 18. Here he is shown with his wife Virginia and Aero Club President Cannon Hill (right). (Photo by Gary Vacin)

Gary Vacin

Sun Lakes Aero Club members and guests heard all about aircraft renovation and restoration at a club gathering February 18 at the Sun Lakes Country Club.

Speaker was Andy Estes, who operates Desert Rat Aviation located at the Ak-Chin Regional Airport southwest of Chandler. His company provides aircraft maintenance and restoration for both modern and classic aircraft.

Estes told the group he worked as a partner or employee for other companies before forming his own business. He opened Desert Rat Aviation in November, 2006, in a small Quonset hut. As his business grew, he needed a much larger facility and moved to his current location in June 2000. His business includes renting a Cessna 172, Aeronca Champ and a Piper 140. He also started an old-style flying club, the Desert Aero Club, offering training in a 1951 Aeronca Champ, a tail-dragger compared to most tricycle gear aircraft.

Estes gave a power-point presentation featuring many of the antique aircraft he had restored, including a Waco biplane, Piper Cub and Taylorcraft.

Estes’ presentation was the fourth in a series of aviation-related talks given at monthly Sun Lakes Aero Club gatherings November through April. All gatherings are open to the public.

Additional information on the club is available from Cannon Hill at 509-539-7857, Gary Vacin at 480-298-7017, or by visiting the club’s website,