Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Steve Henry: Learning how to fly

Airplanes have always fascinated me. I often scanned the skies whenever the sound of an airplane was heard. Our little St. Cloud (Minn.) airport was an interesting spot to visit. Piper Cubs were the popular planes back then, but it was a tricycle low-wing monoplane that caught my attention.

In the September 1941 issue of Mechanix Illustrated, Maxwell Hamilton wrote that it was “easier to fly a plane than it is to drive … you needn’t spend months to learn, just climb in and take off.” He was referring to a plane called the Ercoupe, manufactured here in the United States. The twin-tailed plane with a nose wheel that could be steered sold for $2,600 pre-World War II.

Some 100-plus Ercoupe planes were manufactured prior to WWII. The Army Air Force used the place for training. When aluminum was no longer available for use by civilian companies, the Ercoupe’s shiny metal was replaced by wood.

Sales soared following the war but then dissipated because of other manufacturers. The history of the plane tells that 5,600 planes were produced up until 1970. And believe it or not, the plane was actually sold by the men’s department of Macy’s stores.

Speaking of planes, I came across a framed picture of the 1919 U.S. Army air service flying regulations. There were a total of 27 such regulations listed, and they included:

Don’t take the machine into the air unless you are satisfied it will fly.

Never leave the ground with the motor leaking.

Don’t turn sharply when taxing. Instead of turning short, have someone lift the tail around.

In taking off, look at the ground and the air.

Never get out of a machine with the motor running until the pilot relieving you can reach the engine controls.

Pilots should carry hankies in a handy position to wipe off goggles.

No man must taxi faster than a man can walk.

If you see another machine near you get out of its way.

If flying against the wind, and you wish to turn and fly with the wind, don’t make the sharp turn near the ground. You might crash!

If an emergency occurs while flying, land as soon as possible.

The 27th regulation pointed out that “joy rides will not be given to civilians.”

One of the planes frequently used by our pilots in World War I was a French biplane fighter outfitted with a synchronized machine gun. It was called the Spad and powered by an 150 horsepower motor. Two American flyers, Eddie Rickenbacker and Billy Mitchell, were often pictured with our national insignia painted on the wheel hubs.

I was fortunate to take my pilot’s training in a Piper Cub and later a Cessna. Being up in the air and cruising along over our Wisconsin landscape was indeed a highlight of mine.

Read more here:   http://chippewa.com

No comments: