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A Comanche 'Junkyard Dog' is a fun way to fly

In his day job, Wade Alexander flies jets for Cessna Aircraft. But in his free time, he loves to fly his 1960 Piper Comanche, which he affectionately calls his “Junkyard Dog.”

The aircraft has an interesting history. He discovered the plane after it had been wrecked by a previous owner when he ran out of fuel. Wade spent a year and a half bringing it back to flying condition.

It’s now a compilation of at least six different airplanes. Each wing, for example, is from a different plane. Wade — who owns the Comanche with a partner — did a lot of the work himself.

Recently, he and I flew the “Junkyard Dog” down to Vinita, Okla., to eat lunch. Wade even let me do some of the flying. From the airport, it was a short walk to a “fly-in” McDonald’s he’d discovered one day. That’s it in the background of the photo.

The McDonald’s straddles the highway. So while eating chicken sandwiches from a table upstairs, we could watch cars and semis pass along the highway underneath.

Afterward, we flew over Grand Lake where there were plenty of boats on the water below. We landed at the Shangri-La airport before heading back to the Augusta Airport.

I never knew a trip to McDonald’s could be so fun. But then, everything is a little more adventurous with a Junkyard Dog.