Saturday, September 14, 2013

Father and son share the joy and challenges of restoring vintage aircraft

 HANCOCK COUNTY — You can tell someone has the bug – any bug – bad when they try to describe their condition to you, … and they can’t finish the sentence.

“Flying, early in the morning or late in the afternoon, it’s just….”

Allan Harter’s voice trails off, and his eyes signal he’s no longer standing amid his vintage aircraft in a hangar at his grass-strip airfield in eastern Hancock County.

He’s up above the Central Indiana farmland feeling the lightness of his airplane through the seat of his pants as the wind whistles and hums over fabric-covered wings and vibrates directly through the control stick to his palms.

The English language strains hard against gravity’s pull to find words that will fit: Transcendent. Sublime. Exquisite. But ultimately, they fail.

Just as any attempt to describe soaring over lush summer fields in a 1940s flying machine comprised of almost as much air as it flies through must ultimately fail.

As they say: You just gotta be there.

It all started innocently enough for Harter in 1966. He wanted to learn to fly, and he did, and then he got his dad, Jester, to get his license, and father and son began what is now a multi-generational love affair with aviation. Especially aviation that involves old aircraft.

“Flying just interested me,” Harter said. “I just wanted to do it.”

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