Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

'Honey Bun 7' Has New Home in Australia

Cessna 185's Moninker Provided By WWII Pilot John Parker

 

February 1, 2021

Photo Courtesy David Berger

The Cessna 185 (aka "Skywagon") is the perfect airplane for bush flying, and one that Dr. David Berger long wanted to own. Berger is a district medical officer in the Broome, Western Australia. He purchased N185MW from a private owner in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 2015. Before it was 185MW, Dr. Berger's Cessna was N105NR operated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and flown by John Parker until his retirement. Warden-Pilot Parker spent his entire DNR flying career based in Warroad. When he served as a P-47 pilot during World War II he started naming his airplanes Honey Bun. That was his pet name for the girl he'd left behind when he went off to war. She later became his wife, and Parker kept the tradition going with his DNR airplanes, including 105NR, named Honey Bun 7.

David Berger is a District Medical Officer in Broome, Western Australia. There are nine regions in Western Australia.

Broome is in the Kimberly region on the northwest coast. It's a fascinating place. Local indigenous people painted their thoughts in rock art that can still be seen 40,000 years later. Metals, petroleum, and agriculture sustain the local economy.

Diving for natural pearls is a major activity, as is farming oysters. One third of the world's diamonds are mined in Kimberly. Beautiful beaches line the Timor Sea and Indian Ocean, many of which are not accessible by road.

Much of Kimberly is remote and just begs for bush flying. Dr. Berger's mother was an Royal Air Force mechanic who got him interested in

aviation. He learned to fly in the United Kingdom when he was 17. In 2012 he immigrated to Australia where flying is a lot more fun.

Dr. Berger primarily does emergency medicine at the hospital in Broome. He is well known not just for his healing skills, but for his advocacy on public health issues and humanitarian work in the Solomon Islands. Berger recently added flying to his claims to fame when he flew a single engine airplane from Grand Junction to his home airport, that's from Colorado to Australia.

The Cessna 185 (aka "Skywagon") is the

perfect airplane for bush flying, and one that Dr. Berger long wanted to own. He purchased N185MW from a private owner in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 2015. Berger had the aircraft rebuilt in Colorado, then he started contemplating how to get it home. Rejecting the crate and ship option, Dave Berger decided to fly it to Australia. His son Tom is a pilot and joined the adventure. Instead of taking the "short" trip across the Pacific, Berger and son went via the North Atlantic, Europe, Russia, Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Their adventure is eloquently told by the pilots themselves at facebook.com/wrongwaytoaustralia. So, this story is mainly about Dr. Berger and his airplane.

Before it was 185MW, Dr. Berger's Cessna was N105NR operated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and flown by John Parker until his retirement. Warden-Pilot Parker spent his entire DNR flying career based in Warroad.

When he served as a P-47 pilot during World War II he started naming his airplanes Honey Bun. That was his pet name for the girl he'd left behind when he went off to war. She later became his wife, and Parker kept the tradition going with his DNR airplanes. 105NR was Honey Bun 7.

Jay Robert flew 105NR after Parker retired. He sent Dr. Berger the "Minnesota Flyer" issue for September 2020 with the story about Honey Bun. John Parker's memory is now honored in Australia with the nose art and pilot's name being restored to his last aircraft. Earlier in his career Parker flew a Piper Super Cub named Honey Bun III. Berger owns one of those too, which is now Honey Bun 8.

Honey Bun 7 has a different life these days. With the DNR she flew mostly in northern Minnesota. Her flights often began and ended at Warroad. Cessna 185s are not good just for bush flying. They have the speed, range, and size to make comfortable cross-country machines as Dave and Tom proved. After getting to her new home, Honey Bun 7 has flown all over Australia and New Zealand. Dr. Berger's younger son Ed is also a pilot, so flying is a family affair. Broome weather is a little different from Warroad where the average high for July is less than 80 Degrees F, and winter

temperatures of 40 below are common.

In Broome, the average temperature for the entire year is 80 Degrees. Kimberly's climate is classified as "tropical monsoon." Warroad is described as "continental" with the winter charitably called "rigorous." Rain falls in Broome primarily from November to April. That's when most of the snow falls in Warroad, so there is that in common.

Photo Courtesy John Parker

P-47 Honey Bun in Italy during World War II.

One morning on their trip across Russia, the Bergers woke up to -8 degrees Celsius and an airplane covered with ice. The pilots needed to be at the immigration office by noon and it was 800 kilometers away. The Russians had no way to de-ice the Skywagon, but they did have plenty of Vodka. Dr. Berger presented himself at a 24-hour store and bought six liters of the cheap stuff. It was Russia. Nobody questioned his desire for a lot of alcohol at 6 a.m.

The vodka turned out to be a highly effective aircraft de-icer, and maybe a Russian or two was saved from liver disease.

That might be Honey Bun's final encounter with the freezing north, but she did spend a lot of time on skis. Snow is an unknown phenomenon in Western Australia, but maybe Doctor Berger and sons will find skis and take her to Antarctica? Floats might be more useful, and Honey Bun 7 knows how to fly on those, too.

 

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