Ted's Aircraft Shop
The Story of Aeronca Champ (L-16A) N2777C
When you are building, you are often not flying. I flew several times a week until the end of 2004, getting my instrument rating
and flying the Cessnas and Pipers of the Condor Aero Club at Zelienople Municipal Airport (KPJC). Then I took a job with the
federal government with the Department of Transportation in Washington, DC. That was the end of my flying for awhile.
By the middle of 2005 I was going stir crazy--neither flying or finding much time for building. Seeking to maintain my taildragger
currency, I searched the web for training close to Washington. I found Tony Markl flying an Aeronca Champ L-16A out of Ridgely
Airpark, Maryland (KRJD). Tony is a remarkable individual, even if he has to tell you himself. He flew Air Force jets
and flew the big jets for PanAm. While retired officially, he keeps himself busy training in the Champ and restoring planes
that need recovering and repair. Tony has an opinion on everything in the world. See his column called "One Man's Opinion"
in the Aeronca Aviator, the magazine of the Aeronca Aviators Club. Tony is an exacting instructor with specific procedures for
preflight, propping, and flying. He is the best despite his opinions. I learned how to really fly from him and fell
in love with the Aeronca L-16A. Other pages will describe the L-16A, but in summary the Army Air Corpos bought several hundred
Aeronca Champs in Air Corps colors in 1947 with the Continental C-85 engine instead of the Continental A-65. That is the plane
that Tony uses. I learned to fly without the benefit of instruments and really learned to fly in a coordinated manner,
feet as well as arms. I had the benefit of glider training, but still the Aeronca champ does not fly well without coordinated
feet. After a year of training with Tony, I had to have an L-16A of my own.
Just like clothing fashions, aircraft come and go on the market. 2006 was the year for the L-16A with several for sale.
I found N2777C at Barnstormers.com. The aircraft was located in a shed not 30 miles away from Ridgely in Felton, DE. Don
Strickland had stored it for several years after his move off his farm. We quickly came to a price on the condition that the
aircraft was airworthy. That meant a trip to an aircraft and powerplant mechanic. The real fear in one of these older
Champs is the condition of the main wing spar. Cracks have been found and the spar must be checked to be considered airworthy.