Monday, March 22, 2010

Aeronca Adventure

The Aeronca Champ appeared immediately after the end of WWII. It had an appearance and performance characteristics similar to the Piper Cub, but with some design refinefments that made it a bit more comfortable flyer. Foremost among these was a taller cockpit and a weight distribution that allowed a solo flyer to sit in the front seat.


We spent a lot of time in Aeroncas around the time I was ten or twelve thanks to my uncle Jack who piloted planes for some Seattle department store executives. The float planes were especially handy for getting into remote Cascade lakes with good supplies of rainbow trout.

A favorite spot for those airborne fishing outings was a small lake surrounded by steep fir-covered peaks that took some tricky flying to get into. Once, after stowing the inflatable boat and starting the takeoff run, my uncle noticed the plane listing a bit to one side. He showed me how to steer with the rudder pedals and then got out on the float to see what the problem was. I wasn't tall enough to operate the pedals and see out at the same time, so he yelled out directions.

It turned out that we had grazed a submerged snag and put a small hole in one pontoon. I think he may have tried to bail out some of the water with the pump from the boat, but he soon hopped in and headed us quickly back to shore, beaching the plane near a group of boy scouts who had hiked in to the lake. They helped us pull the plane all the way up onto the beach. Jack stuffed some rags into the breach, the boy scouts helped push off the plane, and we made a hasty takeoff from the lake.

Jack had more harrowing adventures flying in three wars, but the trip in the Aeronca was one of my more memorable flights.

* * *

Aeronca Ad, Popular Science, July 1946, p.219


Matt said...

Hello Mike, Nice to read about your fond and exciting memories of Aeronca planes!

I love these planes, too. In fact, I fly an Aeronca Sedan here in Switzerland and am maintaining a website about its restoration, about our adventures with it and about the type in general.

I was wondering, if you might have and would be willing to contribute the above photo (and maybe more from that period) to the website's Sedan gallery:

Would be neat to hear back from you.

Thank you and best regards,


Mike said...

I'll look forward to reading about your Aeronca restoration. Feel free to copy and use my picture on your site. I don't think I have any other pictures from that time.

Matt said...

Hello Mike,

Please forgive my unbelievably late reply! At the time, I thought, you didn't react to my question. I didn't even think of the possibility that you would reply within your blog (don't ask me why), instead waited for an email. Sorry for that! Today, I more or less accidentally rediscovered your photo and realized that it is too small for my Aeronca Sedan gallery,w which now includes more than 200 different Sedans. Could you maybe email it to me in full size (high resolution scan)? Is that you in the pilot's seat? And do you maybe remember the plane's registration number? Please contact me, using my website's contact form:

Thank you very much and best regards, Matt

Mike said...

The picture of me sitting in the float plane was a scan from a small print. I'm not sure I can find it again easily. If I do, I'll try to re-scan at higher resolution and make it available to you.

Matt said...

Thanks very much, Mike, I appreciate your effort.