Osage pilot uses historic plane to help with historic jump

2011-08-30T13:02:00Z 2011-08-30T13:08:08Z Osage pilot uses historic plane to help with historic jumpby Jim Cross Press-News Reporter Mason City Globe Gazette
August 30, 2011 1:02 pm  • 

Mark Retterath and his SR 9 1937 Gullwing Stinson helped make history this past weekend during the town of Bolan's 125th birthday celebration.

Pilot and plane assisted Sgt. 1st Class Elisa Feldt-Tennyson in her final jump as she retired as an Army Parachutist after 28 years and over 12,000 jumps.

"We were friends in high school," said Retterath, "so, it was neat to be able to fly her for her last jump."

Retterath is the owner of Retterath Ag Force and has been a professional ag pilot for the past 15 years, although he has been a pilot for 28 years.

"I have always loved flying," he said. "It's a lot of fun. I love the freedom of being in the air. It's definitely relaxing and a great way to sightsee."

Before owning the 1937 Gullwing Stinson, he owned a smaller version of the plane.

"I like the look of this plane," said Retterath. "Especially the look of the wings. They have the shape of a seagull's wings."

Another interesting feature of the plane is the material from which it is built.

"Most planes are aluminum and wood," said Retterath. "This plane is made of steel. It's a tank."

His uncle has a military version of the Stinson.

"I found this plane in a trade magazine 'Trade a Plane,'" he said. "It looked good and the owner was willing to trade down and I traded up."

To get the plane, Retterath met the owner halfway, in Tennessee.

"The owner actually lived in Vero Beach, Florida," Retterath said. "Flying to Tennessee, to exchange planes, has been my longest flight which took about six hours to get there. That was two years ago."

Being the owner of a plane requires annual maintenance checks by a FAA-certified mechanic.

"I take the plane, every year, to Wells, Minnesota to be serviced by my mechanic," he said. "I'm mechanically, so I am able to do some minor work."

The plane has a 300-Hp engine and according to Retterath is very economical.

"There are only about 300 Stinsons left in the world," he said. "That's all sizes and military versions."

He said the military Stinson only has a door for the pilot with the majority of the plane containing radios and instrument panels.

This is not the first time he has had someone parachute out of a plane.

"There is some danger involved with having a person jump," he said. "Getting them out of the plane safely is the biggest concern.

"You have to slow the speed of the plane down as much as possible. Then, after they jump, the plane wobble with the loss of weight and you have to quickly regain control of the speed."

He also added you to make certain the person jumping doesn't get their parachute caught on the door handle.

"I am excited about being a part of Elisa's last jump," he said. "I'm glad she asked me to do it."


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