Sat, Jul 31, 2004
Well, At Least You Get Close...
By ANN Correspondent Kevin O'Brien
Allen Maki gets more
hands-on time with a P-51 than Lee Lauderback. Well, then, why
isn't he world famous? Probably because he's not a P-51 pilot. He's
a professional aircraft detailer. Allen was polishing a P-51
Mustang, Dakota Kid II, when Aero-News caught up with him during
AirVenture 2004 in Oshkosh (WI).
Allen regularly details six Mustangs for various customers, so he
knows very well all the ins and outs of shining up the powerful
fighters. For instance, I thought that the discoloration of the
stainless steel skin around the Packard Merlin's exhaust stacks
would be a problem.
Allen chuckled. "That's probably the easiest part of the whole
plane to clean!" With a swipe of some polishing compound, he showed
me how the blue discoloration wiped away with ease.
"It's much harder to deal with exhaust's effects on the aluminum
side of the fuselage," he said. Easy or hard, Allen's job is to
make Dakota Kid shine and he isn't going to stop until it
Allen's company, Maki Flight Support, has been in business since
1997, operating the Ironwood (MI) airport (IWD) near the Wisconsin
border. Maki Flight Support will come to the customer for
detailing, cleaning, and -- oh yes, polishing -- an aircraft.
"In the trade we call that 'brightwork,'" he told me, "and most
detailers will charge $75 an hour, for as many hours as it will
take." Allen prefers to negotiate a turnkey price, personally
outlining the scope of work with each customer.
"The warbird guys are great -- they only ask, 'What do I need, and
how much will it cost me?' But I do lots of GA work too," he said.
He mentioned the Cessna 180 as a type that is frequently maintained
in a high polish, and of course he works on painted machines
What about asking airport kids to do it for free, you know, just
for the love of airplanes? Don't they have airport kids any more?
Allen replied with a laugh. "That lasts until they discover how
hard it is."
Sitting near the Mustang was a World War II flight bag. A glance at
it revealed that it had once belonged to another Maki -- Lawrence,
Allen's father, an armorer in the Army Air Corps. Allen found the
bag recently in his attic, cleaned it up and brings it along to
WWII warbird jobs to add to the flavor of the occasion.
FMI: Maki Flight Support (906) 932-4972
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