Thursday, March 18, 2010

first flights

My first plane ride was either in an Aeronca or a Piper J-3 Cub; I would have been eight or nine years old at the time. They were both popular planes in the late 1940s. My mother, my grandfather and my stepfather all took flying lessons in those small planes, though they would later move on to the sleeker and faster Cessnas.

The J-3 Cub in the photos was flown in December 2003 at the Centennial celebration of the first Wright Brothers flight. The location was the Santa Teresa, New Mexico air field where I went many times to see and photograph the planes at the War Eagles Air Museum.

The stars of the December 2003 airshow were the big Collings Foundation bombers, but it was great to see the little Cub get into the air. Particularly in the context of the other planes being flown that day, the slow take-off and flight speed attained by the J-3 Cub seemed hard to believe.

That kind of buoyant, low and slow flight is very appealing to me, which probably explains my attraction to the Google Earth Flight Simulator. I'm going to make or acquire a model J-3 sometime soon to insert into the program so that I can recreate something of the experience of flying in that great old classic.

Piper Aircraft Corporation Ad
Popular Science, April 1938, p.117

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