Let’s talk about the elephant in the room first – Airworthiness

In 1999, a T-34A lost a wing while engaged in simulated air combat over Georgia.  A few years later, it happened again in Texas under almost identical circumstances.  Shortly afterward, another T-34A was lost by the same Texas company, with the aircraft structure failing in a slightly different spot – this time in the center section carry through structure.

The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive that effectively grounded the airplanes.  The T-34 Association, along with several T-34 maintenance companies (Nogle and Black, The T-34 Spar Corporation (GAMI), Parks Industries, and Aviadesign) worked with the FAA to develop and approve several alternative compliance methods (AMOCs) that lifted the restrictions the FAA had placed on the aircraft.

The T-34 Association website has some excellent reference information that can help you understand how we got from there to here.  I’ve owned this airplane since 2002 – before the second and third accidents, and I was a board member of the T-34 Association as we worked to navigate this issue.

I chose the Parks Industries spar and center section AMOCs, and also chose to install the Parks Industries heavy stabilizer.  As a result, there are long intervals between required inspections, and those inspections are relatively easy to accomplish (in that they don’t require removal or disassembly of any major components).  They can be accomplished by just about any qualified FAA repair station.

Part of owning a T-34 is recognizing that it is a 60 year old airframe and that as the airplane ages we need to be proactive about managing these aging airframes.  My advice is that if you want to own a first class warbird that will turn heads on the ramp, is fun to fly, is a great formation platform, and is good for gentlemen aerobatics, this is your airplane.  If you want to challenge your friends to simulated air combat engagements, this probably isn’t a good platform for you.  I’d point you at another airplane I have for sale – the Nanchang CJ6A.


Since the T-34 shares a lot of commonality with the Bonanza, most A&P’s with Bonanza experience can maintain the T-34.  Parts are relatively easy to find.  For more in depth work, Parks Industries (Amarillo), Blackwell Aviation (Pennsylvania), George Baker Aviation in Florida, Randy Long (Coleman, TX), Nogle and Black (Illinois), and GAMI (Oklahoma) all have deep expertise in both maintenance and restoration.

Annuals generally run about $2000 per year.  As with any airplane, the more you fly it, the less problems you will have.  Most of the issues I’ve dealt with owning the airplane have been related to the Airworthiness issues and primarily caused by the fact that I couldn’t operate the aircraft as often as I’d like to.

In other words, fly the heck out if it, and it’ll be fairly trouble free.


Insurance can be a bit expensive.  For me it runs about $3500 per year with hull and liability.  I highly recommend Tammy Orth at Ladd Gardner Aviation.