Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2017
For Brian Van Wagnen of Napoleon, Michigan, flying has been a profession and a hobby. He owns a Grumman Widgeon amphibious aircraft…a J3 Cub on wheels, floats and skis, depending on the season…and a Cessna 172 on wheels. He also has an airstrip in his backyard, Van Wagnen Airport (6H4).
Professionally, Van Wagnen flew DC9s for American Airlines, and was based at Chicago O’Hare, until he retired. He holds the following pilot certificates and ratings: ATP for ASES, ASEL, AMES, AMEL, Commercial Glider, Lighter Than Air Airship, Balloon, and Helicopter, and is a Certified Flight Instructor for all of the above aircraft. Van Wagnen is type rated for the DC9, MD11, and Grumman Albatross G111.
Van Wagnen is a licensed Airframe & Powerplant Technician with Inspector Authorization, and is an FAA Designated Engineering Representative and Pilot Examiner for seaplanes through the Detroit Flight Standards District Office.
Van Wagnen enjoys flying his Grumman Widgeon to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh each year, and to his fishing camp in Canada. He flys his other aircraft mostly locally out of his home airport. Van Wagnen and his wife, Karen, also enjoy flying to the annual Otsego Lake Splash-In in Gaylord, Michigan, which is usually held the second weekend of June, and invites all pilots to come and enjoy the event. The Van Wagnens have been married for 32 years and have two children: Dan, 28, and Jodi, 21.