Mary Build’s FIVE Piper PA-12 Super Cruisers

I get excited when I hear about a woman, any woman, owning a Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser. I get downright giddy when I hear from a woman who has owned FIVE!  Many thanks to Mary Build for sharing her story with LadiesLoveTaildraggers.

Mary Build

Mary Build


I was doing seaplane scenic flights when the FAA asked me to become a CFI. They needed a place to stay current and liked the way I cared for my equipment. At that point in my career, I decided that I would not turn down any suggestion. I had no intentions on becoming an instructor, because I thought I needed to know all the answers and I was still learning every day. I spent the winter in Long Island training for my CFI and CFII. I had no idea how much I would love teaching!

Piper PA-12

Piper PA-12 previously owned by Mary Build

After 4 years of flying thousands of people in seaplanes, I moved across the street and started a flight school. I started at the seaplane base doing scenic flights in 1997 and then started the flight school in 2000. I wanted to spend more time in my new (very old) PA-12 giving seaplane training and to build my charter service on floats in the 185.  After 2-3 years, the flight school took off and I wanted to have my instructors have more time flight training, and I looked into becoming an Examiner.

My first PA-12, the "Mary Dear"

My first PA-12, the “Mary Dear”

I needed more instrument instruction time, so I went to Florida to work all winter. The next winter I needed to add forty hours of night flying, so I decided to fly every night with decent weather. In Maine, it gets dark early, so I was off on another adventure!

I had this PA-12 the longest

I had this PA-12 the longest

One night ATC asked me how the visibility was and I told them it was clear. I turned on the landing lights to find it was snowing! No problem, I kept going. It was one of the best winters of flying I’ve ever had! Some nights I had to put on my ice creepers prior to getting out of the plane, but that was all part of the fun.

My instructor who worked for me the longest and my PA-12

My instructor who worked for me the longest and my PA-12

After being selected by the Portland, Maine FSDO to become a DPE, I flew to Oklahoma for the mandatory training. I was the only woman, only seaplane pilot and had the fewest hours of all the other pilots. Some of the others had over twenty thousand hours and they were hoping to get a DPE position, when all I had to do is pass and I had the job. I kept my head down, worked hard and didn’t say a word. To this day, the FAA men who did the training remember me. This is the part of being an individual that I love!


When a seaplane customer fell in love with the plane he trained in, I would find another to replace it. Soon we needed two and I was determined to stick with the PA-12 model. Pilots love the experience of using the stick, tandem seating and for the first time finding out what those rudders are for. It’s also easier to get in and out of than a Super Cub. These PA-12s are a 1946 and 1947 aircraft, so when you can upgrade to another when you have a flight school, it’s beneficial. Buying right and selling better are important. The buyer always needs to feel they have a good deal, and if you buy it right, you can give them one.

A student who now flies off carriers bought this PA-12 last year.

A student who now flies off carriers bought this PA-12 last year.

I didn’t start flying until I was forty-seven, have been in the seaplane business for twenty years and have just sold the seaplane base after accumulating almost six thousand hours. It’s taken me six years to adjust to the fact that it is time to move on to another challenge and I’m ready. I need to sell my last PA-12, the one I’ve worked up to.

My latest and greatest PA-12 is now for sale

My latest and greatest PA-12 is now for sale

I need a bigger plane to fly to Alaska again. I’ve flown there four times and several people have asked to come with me when I go again. I’m going to have lots of company! I had to limit the number of planes, but we’ll have a great time together. A Cessna 182 sounds like a good idea, but we’ll see. I’m seventy-one now and still feel young. Aviation has given me more of a lift than I could ever imagine.


Mary S. Build, DPE
Author and Inspirational Speaker
Naples, ME
Price $135,000. Click on any picture for slideshow.


1947 PA-12 Super Cruiser


120 hours since major overhaul


Atlee Dodge 61 total gallon capacity fuel

wing tanks

Vernier mixture control

Modified fuel system (left, right, both, off)

New Dakota Airframes Replacement


Extended and Squared-off Wings with

Fiberglass Tips

BLR Vortex Generators and Strakes

Ailerons moved outboard

96” flaps installed

Hendricks Squared-off rudder and


Left side cabin door installation

Lower extended baggage compartment

Cargo tie down rings

Upper baggage compartment (isolated)

Right side cargo door

Custom cabin interior and baggage

compartment panels

Custom enlarged square instrument panel

Gross weight increase modification

Landes weld on ski fittings

Steve’s booster brakes

Sealed lifetime Univair wing struts

Fuselage X brace

Overhead skylight

Welded on float fittings

Heated Pitot system

Inertia shoulder harnesses with belts front

and rear

Whelen Strobe lights with nav. lights

Landing lights in both wings

Cleveland Wheels and brakes

Goodyear 26” tires and tubes

Landing gear safety cables

Scott 3200 tail wheel assembly with HD

Pawnee Spring

F. Atlee Dodge rear seat heater

F. Atlee Dodge windshield defroster

PA-18 front seat assembly

PA-18 style landing gear installed with 6”


Headset holders

Vista Adjustable ventilation vents

180hp Lycoming O-360- A2A Engine

McCauley 1A200/DFA 8245 Propeller

Rear mounted oil cooler

Bracket air filter

Crosswinds engine cowling

Air Wolf Engine Oil Filter

Vernier mixture control

Air Wolf engine oil filter

PA-18 spinner

Electric engine pre heater


Electrical system relocated in panel for


PS Engineering PMA 7000 Audio Panel


Apollo GX60/Com

Insight engine analyzer

MD200-302 series course deviation


M40 course deviation indicator

Apollo SL 70R mode A/C transponder

UMA electric oil temp. gauge

UMA dual amp/volt gauge

UMA oil pressure indicator

UMA vertical speed indicator

Vacuum gauge

UMA instrument lighting system

Apollo SL15 audio selector panel

ACL A-30 altitude encoder

Marker beacon antenna

Apollo A-33 GPS antennas (2 ea.)

Transponder antenna

Comat Industries Vee Dipole Antennas


Amer-King Cor. AK-450 ELT

Mitchel tachometer

Kollsman altimeter

Sigma-tek directional gyro

S.I.R.S. Navigator compass

UMA T16-31 airspeed indicator

RC Allen turn and bank indicator

Mitchell Electric clock

Bose electric headset jacks front and rear

No Comments

Post A Comment