Chuck Wahl-Owner of Vultures Row Aviation. Chuck grew up in an aviation family, more specifically he is proud to have grown up a Navy Brat. Chuck's Dad flew NAVY jets and his grandfather flew bombers in the pacific during WWII. If it wasn't enough for flying to be in his genes, at age 5 his mom started him building model airplanes when they lived in Pensacola FL.
At age 5 he took his first airplane flight and got to fly the plane. Later he and his dad flew control line model airplanes and model rockets. Graduating into Remote control airplanes allowed Chuck to build a solid foundation in aeronautics.
At age 15 Chuck started flight instruction at the NAS Rota Spain Navy flying club. On his 16th birthday Chuck soloed and spent the next year flying around Spain. Ironically, his Mom would have to drive him to the NAS Rota flying club so he could go flying. A typical flight for Chuck would include soloing to Morocco or to the Rock of Gibraltar.
Chuck recalls a time doing touch n go's at NAS Rota when the tower asked Chuck to extend his downwind for a flight of Harriers in the overhead break. Chuck rogered the instructions only to hear a voice on the radio from one of the Harriers his Dad was piloting state, "Sorry, Son". Chuck's reply? "No problem Dad, you're paying for the plane."
Upon returning to the States Chuck continued flying at the NAS Lemoore Navy flying club. Chuck received his Private, Instrument, Commercial and CFI while still in High School and spent his senior year as a CFI at NAS Lemoore. This was Chuck's real initiation to warbirds. The Navy Lemoore flying club had 2 T-34B models Chuck flew to air shows and in Formation with other 34's.
Post high school, Chuck considered a career in aviation and one option was as an Air Traffic Controller. In Sept 1982 Chuck started his ATC career at the Oakland ARTCC. After taking a break from flying for a few years Chuck woke up one day on vacation and on a whim went out to the local airport and renewed his currency. A year later he bought his first airplane, a Cessna 210.
A year after owning the Cessna a friend took Chuck for a ride in a North American T-28C. The first words he said to his now wife, Carol, after getting back on the ground were, "I gotta have one of these!" In February 1999 he purchased a project T-28C from South Carolina, sight unseen. For the next 4 years and 10,000 manhours he meticulously restored the airplane inside and out, replacing all hyd lines and electrical, radios etc etc. Chuck kept a full diary of the project and continues to use the lessons learned from that first restoration as he continues to restore other aircraft.
Chuck completed the restoration of his T-28C in February 2003 and began showing his work at various air shows. That year the plane was awarded Grand Champion Warbird at the Golden West EAA Airshow in Marysville, CA. Then it was off to the worlds largest warbird gathering at EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, WI where he received the Silver Wrench restoration award along with Best T-28 and a Judges Appreciation award.
In 2004 Chuck continued to show the T-28 and he received both Grand Champion Warbird and Judges Choice awards at the EAA Arlington Washington airshow. In September 2004, the T-28 appeared by invitation at the prestigious National Aviation Heritage Invitational at the Reno National Air Races. This event, sponsored by Rolls-Royce and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum recognizes the restoration of vintage aircraft to original flying condition. At this event the T-28 was awarded the Henry "Hap" Arnold Trophy for outstanding and authentic Warbird restoration.
In 2003 Chuck and Carol relocated to the Cameron Park Airpark in Northern California. Chuck transferred from Oakland ARTCC to the newly built NorCal TRACON. With the T-28C project complete, Chuck focused on a project closer to home. More accurately, it was his home. In 2004 Chuck and his wife Carol moved into their custom built home complete with large hangar and shop located at Cameron Air Park (O61) in Northern California. Here Chuck enjoys the convenience of his full shop and office that he designed from the ground up, just steps away from his family.
With the home completed, Chuck again felt the burning desire to take on an aircraft restoration project. In 2005 he took delivery of the next airplane, a North American SNJ-5C, again bought sight unseen. This was to be a very rare restoration as this aircraft was one of the very few SNJ aircraft that the US NAVY modified for aircraft carrier operations. Today there's only a hand full of original examples left of this type aircraft. With this rare aircraft Chuck decided to travel back in time with the details and restore this airplane to be as authentic as possible. No details were overlooked. This time Chuck had his sights set on a larger goal.
The SNJ-5C was completed in September 2009 and was immediately accepted to appear at the National Aviation Heritage Invitational at the RENO National Air Races. It was a thrill and an honor for Chuck to have a second restored aircraft accepted for judging at NAHI and the SNJ-5C received the ultimate award, Grand Champion Rolls-Royce National Aviation Heritage Trophy. Along with this honor, Chuck's name is now inscribed on the perpetual trophy which is housed at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center outside of Washington D.C.
Chuck holds a Commercial Pilots License, Instrument rating, CFI, Single and Multi engine land. He is Rated in a North American T-28 and is F.A.S.T. carded. He also holds an FAA A&P license.Top of page