Taylorcraft Daze

The history, diary, thoughts, and opinions of an Iowa Taylocraft pilot. The postings will be heavy in the areas of flying Taylorcraft Aircraft, Formation Flying, Flights throughout the Great United States, and other flying activities.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


By: Owner/Pilot
Independence Municipal Airport (IIB)

It was three days before my 22nd birthday. Taylorcraft, N39911, was to be delivered to the home farm of my father by my instructor, Johnny Fitzpatrick on June 6, 1960. I was 22 years older than the Taylorcraft that was manufactured on November 26, 1945, in Alliance, Ohio. I guess that makes my birthday on June 9, 1938. The farm was located on the Buchanan/Delaware County Line in Delaware County three miles northeast of Lamont and just north of what was then highway 187 leading to the Backbone State Park where I worked during the summer.

Johnny’s arrival was awaited with a great deal of enthusiasm as he approached from the Oelwein Municipal Airport (OLZ) where the Taylorcraft was based. Johnny had purchased it from a flying club in Des Moines, Iowa. The aircraft had about ten owners scattered throughout the mid-west prior to finding its permanent home. Johnny knew how much I loved flying and flying another black and white Taylorcraft that was based on the field. So he purchased N39911 just to tease me with. It certainly worked as I purchased it with $1,050 cold hard cash before my 22nd birthday by three days. Johnny said that he made $50 on the deal.

I had two fine grandmothers at the time. The one on my mother’s side gave me $50 toward the purchase. Needless to say, she received more than one airplane ride. My grandmother on my father’s side said, “If God had intended for you to fly, he would have given you wings.” Well, she did not get a ride, and so everyone ended up being pretty happy.

I started taking flying lessons after my 21st birthday while attending Upper Iowa University. I had my majority then, and figured no one was going to discourage me from flying. I just took a lesson one day and went home and told my parents what I had done. My dad was always quite enthusiastic about flying and wished that he could fly. My dad was my first official passenger.

Back to the skies, Johnny was just a speck above the farm but we all knew it was he. It was time for the grand arrival. He put on quite a show as he did stalls, wingovers, chandelles, and many spins down from altitude. I wished that I had counted the number of spins before he pulled it out at pattern landing altitude. He made a beautiful short three-point landing in the unfamiliar field.

Johnny was a fun instructor to fly with. It was on my second lesson that I asked him if the Taylorcraft could fly upside down. No words were spoken, but we were suddenly diving and rapidly building up speed. Johnny hauled back on the yoke and straight up we went pulling G’s in the first half of a loop. Inverted at the top he held us straight and level for a bit, and things began to happen fast. The seat belt started cutting into my waist, and I was grabbing for anything to hang on to. The fuel from the cowl tank located directly in front of the windshield was running “up” the windshield. Before the engine could quit from a gravity fed fuel system, Johnny pulled back on the yoke again and we finished the final straight down half of the loop with old mother earth growing larger by the second. I was happy, question answered, and I could hardly wait for my third lesson.

The field I intended to keep the Taylorcraft in was nothing but a cow pasture, with cow paths running right down the middle. It was eighty rods long and that was certainly enough. It did slant downward slightly to the east, but that did not seem to matter a great deal. A thing of greater concern was a tile outlet and spring that was located right at the halfway point down the runway. The south one half of the runway was much more narrow with bogs and a ditch on the west and huge rocks close to the fence on the east. There was a fifty-foot high Cottonwood tree located at the north end of the runway just to the west of center. This was usually more helpful than not as it was very easy to judge how high you were on the final approach from the north. Several tall trees stood like sentinels guarding the south approach to the runway. There was a gap in the trees to the left that you could fly through nicely. My high school principal, a tall well-built man, went for a flight, and we took off to the south. The trees were growing fast so I deftly side slipped the T-craft to the left and headed for the gap. We did climb above the trees and he was able to watch the leaves go by on his right. I often wondered if he thought everything was routine or if I was trying to give him a thrill for all the grief he had given me in freshman algebra class. I did enjoy geometry my sophomore year, and he enjoyed flying and did go again. At the time of the flight, I was working for him as a business teacher in high school.

Sometimes cows were on the runway right where I wanted to land. So I would have to wait for them to move. Often times if things did not seem to be just right, I would apply full power and go around for another try at the landing. I always felt that the field was a great training exercise.

I constructed a hanger from discarded steel roofing left over from the tornado that wiped out the farm buildings in 1953. The hanger was closed on all sides except the front that faced the east. It kept the sun and any hail from the plane, and that was very important. It did leak some.

When the plane needed washing, I would land it in the cornfield next to the farm buildings so I did not have to carry the water so far. The corn was still short and I could straddle the rows with the main landing gear. I do not think I hurt any more corn than the tractor did turning on the end rows. I only landed in the cornfield when the ground was firm and packed prior to tiling.
It was great fun to go for a local flight after the chores were finished and check up on the neighbors. I would fly by and wave at them as they were about their farm activities or working in the fields. I never seemed to bother them, and I think they actually enjoyed seeing the plane around. I always received a friendly wave back.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Enter the “Third Dimension,” and
Join the “Realm of Flight”

By: Lee C Bowden, Taylorcraft Owner / Pilot
Independence Municipal Airport (IIB)

Casey enjoys people and is at home instructing. He is a great instructor with his quiet, easy going, and laid back manner that makes it easy to learn and remember what has been taught so your are ready and eager for the next lesson. Casey has the experience with well over one thousand hours to his credit in a variety of aircraft. He has experienced flying by the seat of his pants with stick and rudder to the modern multiple glass cockpits with the latest instrumentation, GPS, Auto Pilot, and Radio Navigation Systems. Four pilots have successfully completed their training program and one more will be finished very soon.

Casey was influenced by the many quality Independence Air Shows as a youth.

Casey has advanced quickly through about one dozen ratings/licenses including: student, Private, Instrument, Commercial, Instructor (CFI), Instrument Instructor (CFII), Multi-Engine, Tail Wheel Endorsement, Type Ratings, Complex (Retractable and a Constant Speed Propeller), High Performance (200 Plus Horsepower), Basic Ground School Instructor. His future goals of Advanced Ground Instructor, with an additional five students for a total of ten students will earn Casey the “Gold Seal Award.” Casey jokes that he has earned a rating for every two years of his age of 21. That is indeed a remarkable accomplishment.

Casey’s instructors are Jim Connell of Independence, Mike Connell (Jim’s son) at Decorah, Rick Hannen of Center Point, and Tommy Tomkins the FAA Examiner at Burlington.

Aircraft Flown by Casey include approximately 20 different aircraft of a half-dozen different brand names including the Cessna’s 120, 150, 170, Skyhawk II 172-N, 182, 182 RG; Piper’s Colt, Archer, Arrow, Cherokee 140, Cherokee 180, Cherokee 235, Tri-Pacer, Senaca II (Twin), Senaca V (Twin), Navaho (Twin); Beechcraft Duchess (Twin) and King Air 200; Mooney J 201; Tail Draggers: Taylorcraft, Aeronca Champ, Jodel, and Piper Cub.

His favorite aircraft to fly are the Mooney 201 because it is fast at 175 knots or 201 miles per hour, very well designed and engineered. It has a great history backing it up. Casey also enjoys the Taylorcraft for just the plain “fun of flying.”

Probably one of my best trips was into South Bend, Indiana with the Cessna 172. The scenery was very neat around Chicago, and it was neat talking with Chicago Air Traffic Control (since I had only had my license for a few months). I find all flying to be interesting; unless, I am just babysitting an airplane on autopilot. I do not enjoy that for the most part. I guess I just like being in complete control!

Casey’s travels currently include flights throughout the United States on a regular basis. One of his longer flights was taking vendors to Wal-mart headquarters at Bentonville, Arkansas and another flight to the state of Alabama. He regularly flies in and out of Iowa’s commercial and regional airports with passengers and students.

Casey responds to: “Why Choose Flying?” This is a hard question to answer in general because it is different for so many people. I would guess one of the best reasons to choose flying is simply because one likes it, and has a passion for it. I have not yet met a pilot who did not simply breathe aviation one hundred percent. Aviation provides personal challenges as well as awesome experiences to make for a very rewarding career/hobby, and I am not sure many careers/hobbies can offer all of the various experiences that aviation can. I love aviation because there is nothing like being in the air and being free to go wherever you want, as fast as you can (or as slow!) and simply enjoy the view.

Probably the most rewarding experiences I have had come after the completion of students successful check rides. It is a lot of work to get them ready and to help them get finished with what is usually a very personal experience/challenge, and the grin on their faces after successful check rides, and realize they are licensed pilots is something that cannot be beat.

The Manchester Air Shows in 2003 and 2004 were planned by Casey with the help of The Manchester Airport Committee, Jim & Karen Connell, Aerobatic performers were: Joe & Cheryl (announcer) Dooley, with their Pitts and Piper Cub and Daryl Massman with his Panzl.

He attended “AirVenture” Oshkosh, WI international air show with his family in 1999.

Casey is currently serving on the Manchester Airport Committee, and he is a Member of the Aircraft Owner’s and Pilots Association (AOPA) that is a national organization. During high school Casey was a member of the National Honor Society, and very active in the music program. He was heavily involved in band, choir, show choir, and almost all the other music activities.

His education includes ratings/licenses at the Independence Municipal Airport, Upper Iowa University, with a major in public administration and a minor in business.

When asked about future goals he states that he enjoys instructing, flying charter flights, and would like to manage an airport in the future. In the very near future Casey would like to move up to flying a Beechcraft King Air (twin) and up to the jets perhaps a Cessna Citation Jet.

His fiancée, Amber Ling, age 22, graduated from the West Delaware School District, Manchester, then attended Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa, majoring in vocal music and also instrumental music. She is currently employed by the Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District teaching elementary and middle school vocal music. There are plans to be married June 9, 2007; after Casey graduates from Upper Iowa University. Amber’s grandparents live just east of Colesburg, at the east end of a pleasant valley that Casey flies over on occasion.

Casey’s father, Mark Hansen, is taking lessons and can now land well. His parents are teachers at the Ed-Co Community School District, Mark teaches vocal music (7 – 12) and the knowledge of computers; his mother, Arlys, is a librarian at Ed-Co. Brother, Kyle, is planning to attend Iowa State University and pursuing a double major in computer science and engineering. Casey attends the Catholic Church in Manchester with his family.

He provides numerous airport tours for various groups, aviation ground schools, and seminars. Casey provides the opportunity for annual airplane rides at the Manchester Municipal Airport during the summer months.

Casey helps with operations at the Independence Municipal Airport. Jobs include: fueling planes, moving aircraft in and out of hangers, mowing and rolling grass, plowing runways, and etc.

Casey collects metal airplanes and utilizes the computer a great deal in connection with his work

You may find Casey at his E-mail address: casey@aviationgeek.com,
his Aviation Geek, Web Site at: http://www.aviationgeek.com/, at the Independence Airport: 319-334-4000; or his Cell phone: 563-920-8490. The best deal is to pay him a personal visit at the: Independence Municipal Airport, (IIB) and go for an introductory flight.
Casey is also available for speaking engagements at local schools, businesses, and social organizations.