After joining the federal government in 2004, I did not fly or do much building for a year. Realizing that life was passing me by, I sought an opportunity to do some taildragger training. I found an instructor, Tony Markl, at Ridgely Airport, Maryland, who was training in the Aeronca Champ--actually an L-16A from the Korean War era. I fell in love with the airplane and decided I needed one of my own.
Barnstormers led me to the perfect airplane not far away in Delaware. Don Strickland had an L-16A stored in a shed with the wings removed. We cut a deal and within a few months, I was able to fly the L-16A from Smyrna, DE back to Zelienople, PA. Next to the Piper Cub, the L-16A is the perfect low and slow airplane. My wife Sue and I have had many good times in that plane flying, for example, to the Aeronca fly-in in Middletown, OH.
At the EAA Chapter 857 at Zelienople, I found a group of flying buddies who share a love for these old “warbirds”. Charlie Potts, an FAA inspector, is an expert on the Aeronca champ. (If he does not know an answer, his cousin Bill Pancake, an EAA Hall of Famer, will.) Bob Mapel, a US Airways check pilot, is the instructor for the group. Don Lavoie, retired twice from the Air Force and the airlines, is our formation flying instructor. Chuck Lotz keeps the whole chapter running.
MyPiper Cub is close to being finished with work remaining on the fuselage, engine, and assembly. The goal for getting it in the air is one year; it always is. I will keep you posted on progress.