TAYLORCRAFTS IN FORMATION TO NEW YORK CITY
By: Jim Zangger, Taylorcraft Formation Lead Pilot
A flight by two Mid-west Taylorcraft Pilots throughout the North-eastern United States
What are the old sayings? “Getting there is half the fun” – “It’s not the destination, it’s all about the trip” – “Memories last a lifetime”. If there is any truth in these, then there are four very happy Taylorcraft owners in the Midwest!
It all began at various Iowa flight breakfasts. An excuse to fly our recently restored aircraft turned the conversation to the possibility of flying four Taylorcraft “in formation” to Sun-N-Fun at Lakeland, Florida (LAL). Joe Weber from Cuba City, Wisconsin
, Elmer Marting from Monona, Iowa, Lee Bowden from Independence, Iowa and Jim Zangger from Cedar Rapids, Iowa started working through the details. The plan was set, now we just needed to practice our formation techniques and hope the weather would cooperate. We were somewhat hesitant about a “formation” flight as none of us had any real experience other than an occasional two-ship flight.
The internet was searched and formation books and videos were obtained and studied by all. Quite a few practice sessions preceded the trip, and we felt confident this could be accomplished safely. Although we do fly “close formation (less than a wingspan apart) our definition of enroute formation is an arrangement of aircraft acting as a unit close enough to maintain color definition, but not so close as to create a collision hazard.
As stated in the opening paragraph, the destination is a goal, but the trip is what creates the memories. The airports, the people met along the way, the camaraderie and shared experiences, such as sleeping in Fixed Base Operator (FBO) lobbies, weather delays, and memorable dining experiences. We completed our first formation to Sun-N-Fun 2002 with many fond memories.
After this first “formation” experience, our group tries to make many local events together, such as “AirVenture” Oshkosh (OSH), Wisconsin, Blakesburg, Iowa, Brodhead (C37), Wisconsin, and have flown other trips as a group. The following year our trip was to Hot Springs (HSR), South Dakota to visit the Black Hills, Crazy Horse, and Mount Rushmore. Along the way we started keeping track of the states we had landed in and it soon became a goal to land in all of the lower 48 states in future trips.
In the spring of 2004, Lee and Jim flew to LaGrange (3T5), Texas for the first Taylorcraft factory open house and fly-in. Quite a few other Taylorcrafts were in attendance including an acquaintance from Monterey, Mexico. Mike Jones flew down from Harvard (0C0), Illinois (Dacey Airport) and we returned home as a three ship formation to Ottumwa (OTM), Iowa before continuing to our base airports.
It’s in our blood now and the conversation turned to the possibility of adding some new states. Mike and Joe had to work and Elmer’s plane was due for an annual, so it was up to Lee and Me. New England provides quite a few states within close proximity. The Taylorcraft reunion at Alliance (2D1), Ohio is scheduled for the first weekend following the Fourth of July and we thought we thought we could continue east form there and pick up an additional fourteen new states. It was a bit impromptu, but we did have a loose plan that would avoid the congested airspace and land at uncontrolled airports. Ideally, we wanted to land at Kill Devil Hills (FFA), Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. We had planned a stop there in 2003 but weather precluded its completion. As luck would have it, we were flying between tropical depressions Cindy and Dennis and thought it best to avoid the southern route this time as well.
Other than a little haze the weather was excellent for our trip. The join up was at Clinton (CWI), Iowa but we were too early for the FBO so continued on to Joliet (JOT), Illinois for the first fuel stop. The Red Barron Squadron was there preparing to leave for their next performance and we had a nice conversation with them. We then continued on for a brief stop in Sturgis (IRS), Michigan on our way to Put-In-Bay (3W2), Ohio, located in Lake Erie. There have been other articles that attracted our attention to this island and we were not disappointed. After our visit, we now call it the “Ten Dollar Island”! Parking was $10, golf cart rental was $10, and our meal was $10! We had a very good “Maryland” Crab Cake at the Boardwalk restaurant. Very interesting location that we would recommend to anyone interested.
Next stop was to visit a friend at his private strip in Valley City (78OH), Ohio where he keeps his 40 hp J-2 Cub and a beautiful Fairchild 24 with a Ranger engine. Our first overnight stop was at Akron (AKR), Ohio where our host was a fellow Taylorcraft owner and has also flown formation with us. A personally guided tour of the Goodyear Airship Operations was given while “The Spirit of Goodyear” was briefly at base. We were fortunate to see it before leaving for its next engagement. A bit of trivia was learned while at the Akron Fulton International airport. This airport was the site of the first international flight in the United States and I believe it was from Canada.
A short twenty-minute trip to Alliance (2D1), Ohio put us at our first destination to spend a couple of days immersed with other Taylorcraft enthusiasts. A group flyby over the Taylorcraft “Old Timers” breakfast then circling the original Taylorcraft factory provided enjoyment to those on the ground as well as the ones fortunate enough to fly their own Taylorcraft in the flight. Quite a few Taylorcrafts were in attendance at the fly-in as well as many other types.
Continuing east has us landing in Lock Haven (LHV), Pennsylvania, White Lake, New York or Monticello (MSV) Sullivan County International, Bennington (DDH), Vermont, Concord (CON), New Hampshire, and our next destination of Hampton (7B3), New Hampshire. We’re starting to collect the states now! Our accommodations were provided by yet another Taylorcraft enthusiast who bases his plane at a private strip with a grass runway 18/33. Now, if you’ve done the math you realized that the numbers don’t add up. Imagine a thirty-degree dogleg surrounded by trees!
The next day’s itinerary took us to Littlebrook, Maine. Position reports were given upon our arrival, circling over the field before entering downwind. A couple of vehicles were at the end of the runway but had cleared prior to our landing. Over the approach end of the runway I spotted something along the side and briefly considered landing beside what now was obviously a person riding a scooter on the edge. He hadn’t heard or seen us until I added power to go around. You should have seen the look on his face when he realized there were actually airplanes using the airport!
On to Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and Woonsocket, Rhode Island to add two more states. While talking with the Flight Service Station (FSS) and describing our activities, the briefer asked if we had considered flying down the Hudson River through the VFR corridor in New York City. Now there’s an idea we hadn’t given serious thought to! We bought a couple of New York Terminal Area charts and reviewed the procedure. We weren’t committed to it but gave it some serious thought. We continued on to Ellington, Connecticut and Old Rhinebeck, New York. While at Old Rhinebeck we discussed our thoughts with the folks still working on their planes for the next weekend’s show. One gentleman gave us the number for the New York City Police air operations to get confirmation from them that the airspace would be available. The only restriction would be to stay out of Class B airspace and that there were no professional games scheduled for that day. We were in luck . . . no games and the weather was good. It’s a go for our tour through New York City!
Self announced position reports are recommended on 123.05 for traffic separation. Surprisingly, only two northbound helicopters were seen. The helicopter traffic generally stays around 500 feet so we were well above them. Now, many of you may think that a Taylorcraft is slow, but in this case it was too fast to take in all the sites! It was over before we knew it. The opportunity to do this after 9/11 along with the great views of the city, and the Statue of Liberty made this experience the most memorable or our trip. Then, on to Old Bridge, New Jersey, the first airport outside the New York Class B airspace and home to the National Hot Rod Association Drag Racing Nationals. No prior arrangements were made and we thought we might wind up sleeping in our tents on the ramp, but fortunately, EAA Chapter 315 was having their monthly meeting at the airport. They showed their hospitality and generosity by inviting us as guests to their meeting and provided transportation for our evening meal. Sleeping accommodations were also provided making this stay another memorable stop.
After Old Bridge, we touched down at Summit, Delaware, then stopped for lunch at Frederic, Maryland. We visited Aircraft Owner’s and Pilots Association (AOPA) headquarters and told the receptionist that we were there to have lunch with Phil, the president. We added that he didn’t know we were coming, but if he was available we would be glad to buy his lunch. Unfortunately, he was committed to another activity and then had to leave for a Town Meeting. We did get an excellent tour of the facility along with a gift bag and a follow up letter from Phil expressing his disappointment for not being able to have lunch with us! Thank you Phil! We did have a good lunch in the airport restaurant and then continued on to Winchester, Virginia and Parkersburg (PKB), West Virginia. This last leg was the only one where deviations were necessary for weather. Ceilings were reasonably high in the remnants of Dennis, but this was in the area of the highest mountains and we elected to climb to 8,500 feet and deviated northwest until clear of the hills. Once back down to our normal cruise altitude we were able to fly direct to Parkersburg where Lee believed we could stay with relatives. Unfortunately, it wasn’t prearranged and they had just left town on vacation so this was the only night we stayed in a motel.
Our last day only required one fuel stop in Winamac, Indiana. We stayed in formation until crossing the Mississippi River and then continued on to our home airports.
Trip statistics are a distance flown of 2,711 statute miles in 34:33 flight time and 36.3 tachometer time. 145 gallons were consumed at an average price of $3.05, burning 4 gph, and 78 mph average groundspeed.
We are fortunate to live in this great country where we can exercise our freedom to fly. This was a trip to remember, and what better airplane to do it in?
Lee is a recently retired high school teacher after a forty-one year career. Lee has owned N39911 since 1960 and flew it to attend college classes at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) on many days. This is the second restoration since his ownership; the first one was needed for airworthiness, and the second to meet Lee’s exacting requirements. N39911 has won a “Bronze Lindy” at “AirVenture” Oshkosh (OSH), Wisconsin as well as “Best Taylorcraft.” At Alliance (2D1), Ohio Lee won two awards, one for “Longest Ownership” and the other for “Furthest Distance” to the fly-in. Lee has landed in 35 of the 48 states and after his fall trip to California his total will be 39.
Jim has landed in 40 of the 48 states now and is looking forward to the last 8. NC94953 was purchased in late 1994 from a gentleman that had owned it since 1968. Amazingly, this is the first restoration as it still had original factory fabric and the engine had never been majored. NC94953 has won “Best Taylorcraft” at OSH, Wisconsin and “Bronze Lindy’s” as well. Jim grew up in an aviation family have his first ride in a Taylorcraft at five weeks of age, and has flown professionally the last thirty five years. Please direct any question’s to: Lee C. Bowden, phone 319-334-6273 or e-mail at email@example.com
Thursday, January 12, 2006
TAYLORCRAFTS IN FORMATION TO NEW YORK CITY