Greg Herrick, who earned his private pilot's license as a high school graduation present from his parents, says he's the only one in his family to become a pilot, so he didn't inherit his passion. His interest in vintage aircraft started early, while growing up in Ottumwa, Iowa, where headquarters for the Antique Airplane Association is located.
Herrick, who personally owns more than 35 vintage aircraft, one of the largest holdings of its type in the U.S., has invested considerably in the acquisition and restoration and preservation of airplanes from the Golden Age of aviation. Explaining his passion he notes, "I remember in grade school when the Antique Airplane Association would have fly-ins where old airplanes would come in from all parts of the country. I watched them fly over our house and marveled and the freedom and beauty these old planes seemed to represent.”
After not flying for several years, Greg purchased his first vintage aircraft, a 1943 Fairchild PT-23, and brushed up on his “tail-dragger” flying skills. Although that particular plane wasn't part of the Golden Age, it's what pushed him in that direction.
Greg has hopes of restoring a 1931 Sikorsky S-39 one day, but first he has to rescue it from the bottom of a lakebed, where it sunk in 1958, into glacial silt about the consistency of peanut butter. He's been on four rescue missions to the remote lake in Alaska where the Sikorsky is hiding. His interest in obtaining this rare craft started as many of his hunts do; he looks them up in the late Joe Juptner's nine volume U.S. Civil Aircraft series. "Then, I comb the Federal Aviation Administration's register to see how many of a certain type are still in existence.
Herrick looks forward to continuing his pursuit of rare and exotic aircraft. "It's what I love to do, and I love to share it with people," he smiles. "I'm humbled to be the custodian of such exquisite aircraft. I've been very fortunate."