Posts Tagged ‘Aeronca Champ’

Why be normal?

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Why indeed? We often preach the gospel of consistent, frequent flight lessons because research says that’s what works best.

But for some of us, it just isn’t possible. Take Bill Adams, whose travel for work conflicts with a regular flying schedule. But he hasn’t let that stop him. Here’s what Bill says has worked for him:

Bill Adams soloed this Aeronca Champ, and says flying six different airplanes hasn't hampered his flight training experience.

Bill Adams soloed this Aeronca Champ, and says flying six different airplanes hasn’t hampered his flight training experience.

 

Why be normal? My job takes me all over the country for short periods of time. So, my instruction cannot be normal. I have to take what I can get. In my case it turned out to be better than normal.

By the time I soloed, I had flown six different airplanes and had about half my time in tri-gear and half my time in tailwheel. I have flown high wing and low wing, tandem and side-by-side, a glass panel and a plane with no electrical system that had to be hand-propped (my personal favorite). I just completed my first solo in a taildragger at a tower-controlled airport—a 1940s-era Aeronca Champ at Livermore Municipal in Livermore, California. My instructor was Pete Eltgroth, with Red Sky Aviation. I had just as much fun (or more) as the person soloing in a tri-gear at an uncontrolled airport.

While all these differences did extend the length of my training a little, so far, they have also provided a more comprehensive (and more fun) learning experience. And, I am much farther along than if I had waited for more ideal circumstances.

To which we say, “Congratulations!” Because, at the end of the day, whatever works to get you into the sky.—Jill W. Tallman

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Photo of the Day: The happy Champ

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

A friend of mine once owned an Aeronca Champ, which she affectionately called “The Happy Champ.” I’m not sure whether it earned its nickname because of its appearance or because of the emotions it inspired in her and others. In any event, the Champ is a popular member of the tailwheel family. While it doesn’t have the legion of fans that Piper Cubs boast, pilots new to tailwheel training enjoy the Champ because it’s a little more forgiving and it doesn’t sit up quite so high, making its forward view a bit better.–Jill W. Tallman

Your first airplane

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Your first airplane and your first kiss. Good or bad, you’ll remember them always.

You may be in the throes of primary training and quite possibly sick to death of yanking and banking your 172, or your Champ, or your Cherokee. But one day you’ll think of that trusty steed and be nostalgic for those days when you were bumping around the pattern trying to nail a perfect landing. That first airplane is the one that opens all the doors for you–the one that shows you what you’re capable of doing as a pilot.

You might even get to revisit those days, as I did last week.

When I started on the road to a pilot certificate, the local flight school had the standard Cessna 172s and Piper PA-28-180s, but it also had a small fleet of Socata Tampico TB9s–low-wing 160-hp four-seat trainers manufactured in France. The TB9s came by the nickname “Slow-Pico” honestly, but they were stable and fairly easy to fly. And they had cool gull-wing doors on both sides. They looked like sports cars–like something John DeLorean would have designed if he’d been an aeronautical engineer. They looked fast, even if they weren’t.

I got my ticket in a TB9 and continued to fly them until 2005, when the flight school decided to update its fleet with glass-cockpit 172s. I estimate that around 300 of my 700 or so hours are in TB9s, and I have around 10 hours in the TB9′s big sister, the Trinidad TB20. When they went away, I missed them for awhile, but I moved on to the Piper Archer and, eventually, to the Cherokee 140 I own today.

Last week I climbed back into the left seat of a TB9 to take a flight for a story that will appear in an upcoming issue of our sister publication, AOPA Pilot. N28216 is actually one that I flew quite a bit in primary training. It’s still based here at KFDK, although my other love, 5557J, has since moved on.

Sitting in 216′s left seat was both alien and familiar, all at once. On the takeoff roll, I was a little heavy-handed on rotation and got a blip of the stall horn (shades of my student days!). The power-off stall was as gentle as I remembered; the power-on stall everybit as jaw-clenching. (The airplane doesn’t want to stall, and you seem to hang vertically for long moments until the break finally happens.) Coming back into the pattern, I again reverted to the good old days and was too high on the final approach. I wondered if I’d thump it on to make my trip down memory lane complete, but thankfully I did not.

That flight triggered a lot of memories. My checkride…my first flight with passengers…a trip to Ocean City, Maryland, with my two children…all in a TB9. The little gull-winged airplane started me on a wonderful journey. So treat your trainer kindly. You’re gonna miss it when it’s gone.–Jill W. Tallman