Friday, December 20, 2013

Planes of the past Part1

My first Aeronca. An 11ac Chief. The tail post collapsed on landing one day causing it to do things that weren't very good for the rest of it. It's a weak point in taildraggers as water tend to collect there and can cause rust. I wasn't aware of this at the time as I was just starting out as a student pilot. 

My second. An 11AC-s, A stripped down version of the Chief, with less than 100 made. I was in the process of building a homebuilt and realized it was many years from completion and that if I wanted to fly I needed something sooner. I found the Scout on a bulletin board at Sun & Fun one year for about $3000.00. The engine needed re-building from a prop strike and both wing tips (and the spar ends) were damaged. It took a year of evenings and weekends to get her airworthy. I spliced the spars and recovered and painted the wings. I bought another 65hp Continental engine from the estate of an old mechanic. I tore it down, checked it out & replaced all the gaskets. All the parts, crank, cam etc, were new factory parts inside. Along with the engine, I also scored a new crank, cam, mags and mag parts and piles of other stuff for my $1,000.00. I used these to re-build the Chief's original engine which I sold to a friend who put it in a Cub he built & it is still running strong. I paid a visit to Sensenich  in Lakeland and bought a new wood prop for $900.00. This is the plane I finally learned to fly in. Yes, I reinforced the vertical tail post.

I met a really nice guy and an excellent pilot named Bob Knapp. He had flown all his life and in just about everything up to and including TWA jets. He taught me for free just for the joy of flying. We did a lot of very low and slow flying and a few loops and lots of spins. I really miss Bob. He was one of a kind.

Bob and his  new RV

Here is Bob coming over the trees in a friend's Chief, and doing a short field landing across  his 900 yard long farm strip where he soloed me. There was no bounce and he only rolled a few lengths of the plane.

Bob had a very distinctive profile.

The instrument panel in the Scout. Yes that's an ashtray. In 1947 It came with one on each side.  
(I have at long last quit smoking) 

Landing the Scout at Zephyrhills

The lake I lived on & what used to be my orange grove. It is now all developed with a six lane highway in front. This was after the hard freeze that killed the trees and I had re-planted in pine to keep it agricultural for tax purposes. Everybody that re-planted oranges for the next few years were frozen out again.

Landing my friend Wade's Chief at Bob's farm strip.


  1. Long live taildraggers, grass fields and the stick. At the time in my life when free range pigs paid the bills, I'd go out and shoot cross wind take offs and landings all morning just for the fun.