The "good" old days.

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karmarepair

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From a discussion about a Sonex Onex with one flight logged that was up for auction, and how it's tough to get them insured today, my Uncle (in his late 70's) chimes in:

"In the 50's many farmers had cheap 2 seat airplanes that they landed on their own grass or small- town strips and many were not Lic or inspected at all. Most did their own engine maintenance and the planes often were just left outside. I about bought a fabric Taylorcraft 40 hp 2 seater for $800 with no radio, I went to pick it up about in 1966 and the guy sold it the day before. Once a Guy from around <small central Iowa Town> reportedly flew a small plane under the Des Moines river bridge ( maybe 14 to 18 ft clearance) just to prove he could. As long as they stayed away from Des Moines and didn't crash, I don't recall anyone getting in trouble. Dr. <redacted> from <small central Iowa town> had a good plane, but he had a serious accident and totaled that plane . Dad new a guy <redacted> that lived by the Skunk river halfway to <mid-sized Iowa town>. Dad was buying about 3500 ac in Northern Minn. and they flew up there in a WWll plane and bought it on a fly- over without even landing."
 

TFF

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Memphis, TN
A friend’s dad who wasn’t an airplane guy did learn how to fly as a teen. This is in southern Arkansas, early mid 50s. His step dad bought a Champ and soloed but never got a license. There was a time when a solo student could carry a passenger and I believe the solo endorsement had no limit. The two just putted around the rice and corn fields minding their own business. The place is all built up now. They have a McDonald’s and 2 24 hr gas stations.
 

plncraze

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A few of the Sport Aviation stories of classic grand champ restorations (Taylolrcraft, Champ, Vagabond) had stories like that. According to one of those stories, the law said if you stayed over your own property you did not need a pilot's license.
 

Aviacs

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Right after the Channel crossing, before WW1. my grandfather went in with 5 guys & bought a Gnome rotary powered Bleriot XI. One of the partners cracked it up before he got his chance. Wish he'd stashed the motor. :) No doubt they sold the useful parts to recoup some of the money. He was a merchant seaman before 1900, and after that alternated between the navy and merchant marine until about 1950, never proceeded any further with flying.

Nobody after that flew until my aunt came back from WW2. married a doctor, and began keeping and flying Cessnas on floats on the west coast. But there was some sort of estrangement among the women in the family, and i only ever saw photographs and heard some news. It did add to inspiration for me, and i was the first pilot in the extended family after her. Some of my nieces and a sister were involved with me a few decades ago, but none pursued it. Many of us in the EAA chapter lament that we would have done almost criminal activities for the opportunity to get in an airplane, let along take lessons when we were kids. None of our progeny had any sustained interest.

smt
 

Pops

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In WV maybe about 1/2 of the people driving autos had a driver license in the 1950's. I have been an airport bum since GA stated back up after WW-2. Lots of pilots at that time didn't have a license. I met a old friend for the first time when I landed in a grass field on the Ohio River and he was changing the oil in his Luscombe . After flying for about 40 years he finally got his PP.
My Aunt was 95 years old and got caught speeding. Cop ask for her license. She told him that she learned to drive when her father bought a new 1917 model T and been driving ever since and has never had an accident and didn 't think she needed one. He just shook his head and told her when she gets time maybe she should stop down the street at the State Police office and get one. She never did. Died 10 years latter. She was very busy taking all the old people to doctors and such.
 
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Madera, California U.S.A.
My fathers cousin (Truman) lived on a farm five miles from my grandfathers farm. His cousin 18 to 20 years old and same age as my father went to Pennsylvania purchased World War 1 surplus plane and flying lessons. Flew aircraft back to Ohio gave instructions to my father who flew it in this rural area but engine problems developed and flying ceased. I had a few pictures of dad flying that old aircraft.
 

Wiseacre Dave

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At age 16 in about 1987 my younger brother was ready to solo. He and his instructor lived 40 miles apart with an airport near each of them. On solo day the instructor couldn't come to the aiport near my brother, so my brother got in a plane and flew it to the other airport. The instuctor saw him arive and asked him why he did that. My brother said, "Well, I was supposed to solo today, so I just did it." Initiative!
 

Richard Roller

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Feb 15, 2018
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Olathe, Ks.
Back in the sixties (age 14), a friend of mines father knew I was an aviation nut and talked to me all the time about learning to fly in a Cub when he was 9 years old. Of course I thought he was feeding me a line. Said his grandfather had bought the Cub as a wreck and put it back together and let him fly it. One day when I was over he pulled out pictures. Sure enough, there he was with his little brother making a low pass by the house and various other pictures of him with the Cub. I asked him why his little brother seemed at such an odd height sitting in the Cub. Seems they didn't have a front seat, so he set on a bucket.
 

Wiseacre Dave

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Has anyone read Rinker Buck's "Flight of Passage" about two brothers, about 15 and 17, who transited the country in a Piper Cub? Now, that's a tale of the good old days and the initiative of youth.

My brother and I have a similar story: in the summer of 1979 we flew a 108 hp Piper Colt from Virgina to West Yellowstone airport. We were ages 20 and 22. We had to figure out how to cross mountains near the plane's service ceiling. The high Sylvan pass following the road out of Cody, Wyoming into Yellowstone was a particular challenge. We had the colt up to about 11,000 MSL on a very early morning flight when the air was cool and stable. Generally, for other mountains, we used soaring techniques---riding thermals and reading the atmospheric conditions. Navigation was fun too. The VOR would see only about 50 miles ahead, and that's if we were high enough. Mostly we used the charts, followed roads, and verified our positions at every small town by reading the name on the water towers.

I'm now reading Buck's new book, "Life on the Mississippi." That guy is an historian, a good writer, and a real adventurer. His father really reminds me of mine. He always encouraged us taking initiative to find out things for ourselves.
 

Pops

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I know a certain man that had about 11 hours of flying instruction and no cross county instruction. Decided to fly to Pittsburgh, Pa to visit friends where he used to live. Flight Service said winds 10 mph or less for the day so he took off. Passing Wheeling, WV some dark clouds rolled in and had to use a large crab angle to stay following the Ohio river. Going to land at Beaver Co airport (BVI) and they had just installed a part time tower and the controller said the winds were 30 gusting to 45 from 180 degrees. The runway was east and west. The instructor always said to carry a little extra speed in gusty conditions so he did. Touched down between gust and when the next gust hit the airplane went up to about 25'. He added power and started climbing out for another try. Airspeed and altimeter was balancing around so much almost useless. Tower told him that he would keep calling wind speeds after he was on short final so maybe he could get it down and stuck between gust. Made it, taxied in and held it over a tiedown spot and 2 men ran out and tied it down while he held it down with engine and brakes. He went up in the tower and talked to the controller. Controller said he didn't know where this weather came from, it wasn't predicted. After an hour the controller said if I wanted to leave I could taxi up the open grass field to the north side of the airport and take off into the wind across the runway. Said I can't give you permission but I will watch any traffic for you and no one will care.

He flew back home and called his instructor and told him about the PA trip. Instructor told him to get in the car and come to my house right NOW. I need to do some work on your log books.

Word for word the way I was told.
 
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Pops

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I talked to an old guy who grew up on a tobacco farm. He was driving the family truck into town when he was 9. He said nobody did anything because they knew he was working. Some young kids are treated and act like adults.
I started at 10 years old driving a 1 1/2 ton 1937 Chevy truck . By the time I was 14 years old I was finished growing and 6' tall x 200 lbs and drove everywhere. Drove to the State Police office when turned 15 and told them I wanted my driver license and was ask what is the speed limit on an open road and school zone. Went out and drove around the Court House building and he signed the papers. At 15 I was bigger than the Cop and wasn't ask my age.
Remember one hot summer day we were putting up hay and I was sent to drive the 7 miles to the main road to a Road House and buy a cold case of beer and bring back . I was 10 years old.
Just the way things were.
 
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Wiseacre Dave

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I started at 10 years old driving a 1 1/2 ton 1937 Chevy truck . By the time I was 14 years old I was finished growing and 6' tall x 200 lbs and drove everywhere. Drove to the State Police office when turned 15 and told them I wanted my driver license and was ask what is the speed limit on an open road and school zone. Went out and drove around the Court House building and he signed the papers. At 15 I was bigger than the Cop and wasn't ask my age.
Remember one hot summer day we were putting up hay and I was sent to drive the 7 miles to the main road to a Road House and buy a cold case of beer and bring back . I was 10 years old.
Just the way things were.
Sounds similar to my early teen years in the early 70's. At age 13 I worked on a farm/service station. Pumped gas, learned to fix cars, and ran an old Farmall C tractor to cut hay. Learned to drive on that tractor and an old pick-up truck. Began flying lessons at 15, but the first two instructors didn't take me seriously. I finally got the 22-year old "old guy" who set me up for solo. On my 16th birthday--Friday, April 13, 1973, I finished that day in high school, took the bus home, Mom drove me to the DMV, got my driver's license, drove myself to the airport and soloed in a 20 knot wind straight down the runway. A normal day when you're 16 and believe you can do anything. The trick is to keep that attitude as an adult. Now at age 65 I think I can build an airplane....
 

Pops

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Sounds similar to my early teen years in the early 70's. At age 13 I worked on a farm/service station. Pumped gas, learned to fix cars, and ran an old Farmall C tractor to cut hay. Learned to drive on that tractor and an old pick-up truck. Began flying lessons at 15, but the first two instructors didn't take me seriously. I finally got the 22-year old "old guy" who set me up for solo. On my 16th birthday--Friday, April 13, 1973, I finished that day in high school, took the bus home, Mom drove me to the DMV, got my driver's license, drove myself to the airport and soloed in a 20 knot wind straight down the runway. A normal day when you're 16 and believe you can do anything. The trick is to keep that attitude as an adult. Now at age 65 I think I can build an airplane....
The only one that can stop you is you.
 

Marc W

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Mar 31, 2017
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I don't remember when I first drove a tractor or a car. I do remember routinely driving my Mom to work in town when I was 14.
 

Jim Chuk

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Mar 30, 2013
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Chisholm Mn USA
I was probably about 7 and was driving the 1946 Chevy 2 ton truck on the hay field. I was to short to reach the gas pedal and have my heal on the floor boards so if there was a bump, the gas pedal got a bump as well. I was going slow from one bale to the next and my dad was stacking hay on the truck. I hit a series of bumps/ruts and each bump made me bounce harder and hit the gas pedal harder as well. Dad ended up falling off the truck and he wasn't happy about it. I'm sure my mother was laughing though. And we had a Farmall Super C as well. My dad got it and me, both brand new in 1951. I have the tractor out back still. Dad and mom are both long gone though. And the field we were haying was a private airstrip, and the owner had a Piper Cub there. Got my first ride in that Cub either that summer or the next. There is a house in the middle of that field now, I think about it when I fly over it. That is where the dream started I guess. Jim Chuk
 
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Wespa

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Apr 9, 2022
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I started at 10 years old driving a 1 1/2 ton 1937 Chevy truck . By the time I was 14 years old I was finished growing and 6' tall x 200 lbs and drove everywhere. Drove to the State Police office when turned 15 and told them I wanted my driver license and was ask what is the speed limit on an open road and school zone. Went out and drove around the Court House building and he signed the papers. At 15 I was bigger than the Cop and wasn't ask my age.
Remember one hot summer day we were putting up hay and I was sent to drive the 7 miles to the main road to a Road House and buy a cold case of beer and bring back . I was 10 years old.
Just the way things were.
True freedom.
 
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