Amy Hills: New Tailwheel Endorsement! 

Amy Hills: New Tailwheel Endorsement! 

This awesome article is by LLT Tailwheel Endorsement scholarship winner Amy Hills from 2R2. (HaHa Amy, I’m only editing 1 word!) My New Tailwheel Endorsement!  In March of 2019 the infamous Judy Birchler calls me personally on the phone to let me know I’ve been awarded one of the LLT Scholarships to attain my tailwheel endorsement. I could not believe it! As an avid lover of aviation history, I have wanted to fly conventional gear planes since the moment I took to the skies. I was given a full 8 months to master the cute little 85hp Aeronca Champ: no problem, right? Right on cue, the problems stacked up: flooded runway and endless rain, airplane annuals, mechanical snafus, more rain, scheduling conflicts, travel distance, childcare troubles (mine not the plane’s), and even more rain. Finally, the stars aligned and I was able to meet CFII Laura Stants, who despite more aviation post-nominal letters than the average mathematical equation, is definitely one of the most humble, kind, generous, and patient instructors out there. She introduced me to Leah Marie, a 1946 classic yellow Champ. After much fussing about to find a properly sized booster seat to get my feet on the rudders and *heel* brakes, Leah Marie proved to be a sweetheart that I promptly fell in love with flying. I quickly learned that she required my full attention or she’d not-so- subtly remind me that she will gladly take back control of the yaw. I’m pretty sure Leah Marie thinks straight and level coordinated flight is boring, but I wouldn’t love her as much if she didn’t: something about staying ahead of this plane all the time while flying low and slow was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in the air. Before I knew it, I had achieved all the goals of the tailwheel endorsement except for demonstrating cross-wind landings. Cue a long string of absolutely perfect weather and wind, just when I didn’t need it. So we waited for that crosswind opportunity to align with all the other variables as the days continued to slip away. When the opportunity arose, the plane was reserved, and I was tired of chair-flying for weeks while waiting, the perfect summer/fall turned into winter. Tons of rain, followed by below freezing temperatures meant without ice skates, Leah Marie was definitely staying in her hangar. Not to be beaten so easily, I hop in a friend’s rare Varga 2180, fly up to the Kokomo airport where another Champ waits for me hangared on a concrete runway. Unofficially named “Spunky” by your’s truly, this yellow fellow has a whole different personality than Leah Marie. After some time using the wind-prevailing runway to get my happy feet under me again, we switched to the runway with a direct crosswind to try my hand at achieving this last requirement. After the first dicey attempts and a go-around, the idea that I’m flying a kite with no strings attached finally sinks in, and it all comes together. Three unassisted and safe crosswind landings later, we are taxiing back to the hangar. The smile on my face was unavoidable: I had conquered this and was proud of it! Now I that I am safe and endorsed to learn, I can work on perfecting the art. The unexpected gift of this opportunity was my introduction to Laura as a person and as an aviator. Some of the conversations she and I had encouraged me far beyond where the third wheel of the airplane was located. While many tell me that instructing as a goal and flying as many types for as many people as possible is a lousy end game, she is doing all of that and more and thriving at it. She faced many of the same struggles and through a lot of hard work and perseverance has accomplished much of what I am setting out to achieve. Thank you, Laura, for being so generous with your time, encouragement, and expertise. Thank you, Judy, for pouring your heart and soul into LLT and helping so many women to join the ranks of tailwheel pilots. Want a reason to donate to the LLT Scholarship fund? There are so many more women like me who will massively benefit from this experience. And that goes far beyond the endorsement that Laura signed in my logbook. I have met more people, seen more planes, and experienced more simply because so many were willing to give a few dollars a year ago. The smile on my face? It’s still there. It may be priceless, but donations to LLT are what put it there in the first place. Thank you. By Amy Hills, Pilot, New Tailwheel Endorsement!  Donations to the LadiesLoveTaildraggers’ Scholarship Fund happily accepted at GoFundMe!!...

Video: 2019 Natchitoches LLT Fly-in!

Video: 2019 Natchitoches LLT Fly-in!

The 2019 LadiesLoveTaildraggers Natchitoches, Louisiana Fly-in Video! Wow, the title is a mouthful! Repeat after me, “Nack-a-tish”, “Nack-a-tish”, “Nack-a-tish”, the correct Natchitoches pronunciation. If you’re ever lucky enough to fly into KIER, Natchitoches Regional Airport, announce your pattern position on 122.8 “Nack-a-tish traffic ……” and they’ll swear you’re a local! I hope you enjoy this quick glimpse of our 2019 Ladies Love Taildraggers fly-in. Louisiana, where hospitality and southern charm flow like molasses, turned out to be the perfect destination for our fly-in. The first week of October was hot and humid, VERY hot & humid, and thunderstorms were rampant across Louisiana and beyond. No matter. The pilots who flew to KIER took it all in stride and clearly reveled in this event, our 10th Ladies Love Taildraggers flyin!...

True Story #2/Fly-in/Cruise-in

True Story #2/Fly-in/Cruise-in

In follow up to my blog post ‘True Story from LLT Fly-in‘, I figure one true story begs another. In fact, when it comes to everything I write about women pilots, it’s real people and their personal stories that matter. Think of the word “aviating” and interesting individuals jump to mind. Many times those intriguing figures are famous pilots, but often times they are the quiet ones, the least obvious among us. This is one unlikely woman’s remarkable story. Reaction: From a distance I watched a young, male, pre-teen pet my airplane. His arms are in the air above his head and he rubs his hands back and forth across the ailerons. He moves to the fuselage and continues rubbing, stroking and massaging my bird. The horizontal stabilizer was curious to him so he continued to the rear, ever so slowly moving the elevator, touching the trim tab and, and, and….. I rushed to my Decathlon. Musing: I’m happy I looked beyond this young boy to notice an older woman nearly 20′ away. It was obvious she was giving him space, allowing him to experience the airplane but ready to step in if necessary. I do not condone anyone touching my airplane, or anyone else’s without consent, but I recognized something out of the ordinary was happening. The encounter: The event was Labor Day weekend, Ray Johnson’s Marion, Indiana Fly-in/Cruise-in at KMZZ. Ray’s hosted this very successful annual event for an unbelievable 29 years parlaying a Saturday morning Fly-in/Drive-in breakfast into a multi-day event for many. Pilots from near and far find their way to Marion annually and hundreds of local residents come out to be wowed by it all. This annual event features antique, classic, homebuilt, ultralight, rotorcraft and warbird aircraft as well as vintage cars, trucks, motorcycles, fire trucks, autocycles, military vehicles and tractors.  Oh yah, and one very popular all-you-can-eat Pancake Breakfast too! As I rapidly approached my airplane the boy continued to caress it. At that moment I was very concerned with what he was up to and not so much interested in the lady I’d noticed waiting in the flanks. As I approached I could see the boy had Down syndrome, was treating the Decathlon with affection and somehow, had made a connection to it. I stopped, stepped back a few feet and introduced myself to the woman watching from steps away. Within moments, I was only interested in her. Her name was Bonnie LeMaster, a life-long resident of Marion, Indiana. She told me she never misses the fly-in and had gotten up very early so she could bring her grandson with her. As we talked, she explained her grandson has Down syndrome and inherited her love of flying vicariously through her. She told me her home was filled with artwork and pictures of airplanes and her grandson loved seeing them and hearing her talk about each of them. Airplanes had become a shared obsession between them. Then, to my surprise, she relayed her story. She LOVES the Blue Angles! She’s not a pilot, never has been, may never be. But she has a connection to the Blue Angles that transcends decades. In the mid-1960’s shortly after she discovered the Blue Angles, she started a writing campaign with one goal – to get a ride with the Blue Angles. She wrote them directly many times but also wrote the governor, her congressmen, anyone she believed might help her get a ride with the Blue Angles. She received an occasional response and kept on writing – for over 3 years. Finally, after years, someone took note of her perseverance and contacted her with good news; she’d been approved to fly with the Blue Angles! She was invited to fly at one of two locations, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base or Forrest Sherman Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. Bonnie chose Pensacola, Florida. She arrived at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida in July 1967 (yes, 1967!) for her Blue Angles flight and the experience was, as expected, spectacular. She was warmly welcomed, given a full base tour and finally introduced to the crew. She was briefed on her flight and given appropriate safety apparel. And then she was off! Bonnie’s flight wasn’t a quick few maneuvers, she flew a full aerobatic routine with the Blue Angles and loved every minute of it. Incredibly, 52 years later, Bonnie still carries the card with her that certifies her July 12, 1967 flight; Pilot Lt. Dave Rottgering, USN, an honorary Member of the U. S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Team! Bonnie, I loved your story and your continued passion for the Blue Angles is an inspiration to us all....

True Story from the LLT Fly-in

True Story from the LLT Fly-in

Reaction: Some stories are worth telling and this one from our LLT fly-in, I believe, is worthy. Let’s cut to the chase so you understand upfront that my reaction to the encounter was dumbfounded astonishment; my jaw dropped and I stared at her in amazement. Musing: I continue to play the short episode in my mind, utterly mystified and wondering where I went wrong. What other words could I have used to more clearly convey my message? The encounter: It takes place at our hotel, actually the front desk of the hotel where most of the LLT attendees stayed during our fly-in. It’s probably best to leave the hotel nameless although won’t take much to figure it out. A young lady behind the desk saw me walk into the lobby late Saturday afternoon, called my name and waved me over. She was very sweet, charmingly southern, and was anxious to tell me a book had been left for me, a gift from tour guide Kathy Prud’Hommes Guin. Very nice! The young lady quickly located the book and passed it on to me and I thanked her and started to walk away. Before I could turn she stopped me and said she had a question she’d been wondering about and could I please answer it? OK, I was ready to do my best. The question was “What is Ladies Love Taildraggers?” Ahh, an easy question! 🙂 The hotel lobby was quiet so I spent the better part of 6 or 7 minutes explaining the difference between conventional geared aircraft versus aircraft with a nosewheel. I went into the early history of taildraggers, how times have changed and that the vast majority of aircraft built today are not taildraggers, i.e. tailwheel aircraft. I explained that our ladies had made an active decision to fly a taildragger, an aircraft that takes a little more finesse to take off and land than a nosewheel aircraft. Also, that flying any airplane was a matter of study and practice and learning to fly either could be accomplished. I gushed on and on about our fabulous lady pilot members, the distance some of them had flown to be at Natchitoches, the types of aircraft they flew and all the events and tours we were enjoying while in town. OK, not too shabby an answer I thought, very thorough. This young lady was sure to be impressed with what it meant to be a member of Ladies Love Taildraggers! She smiled like she was enjoying my answer, paused a moment after I stopped speaking and said, “Oh, ok, but did your husbands fly you here?” I swear. True story. The floor is open for discussion! 😉...

Day 3, LLT Grand Finale!

Day 3, LLT Grand Finale!

Saturday, October 5, 2019: Lordy, ladies, how’d we do all that? (“That” being the mind-boggling amount of activities, fun and great food we crammed into our last day of the LadiesLoveTaildraggers Louisiana Fly-in.) Frankly, I have NO idea how we pulled it off. I do know we started early and finished up late – squeezed way too much into too little time – and had one heck of a good time in the process. 🙂 I’ve been to more than a few pancake breakfasts in my time but few can compare to EAA Chapter 614’s. Perfection may be the word I’m looking for. The location, Pineville Airport, 2L0, is located on the beautiful shore of Lake Buhlow with both a hardsurface runway and seaplane base. This shot taken by Sue Glisson from the right seat of Wendy Keenan’s Luscombe 8E, is short final, runway 36. Check out a few flyin breakfast gallery shots below: OK, breakfast was excellent but we never skip lunch at a LLT fly-in. Brats, all beef hot dogs, chips, cookies and LOTS of bottled water kept us going through the afternoon. Next, we moved on to our advertised “Girls in Aviation” Day program. It was crazy hot on the tarmac and not much better in the airport’s big hangar, our hangout for 3 days. Several of our LLT pilots spoke to the group of LA Tech’s WIA chapter students, our members, and others from the front of their taildraggers. Terri Hull, Kelly Jeffries, Andrea McGilfray, Jacquie Warda and Lisa Allen spoke from the heart about their passion for flying and careers in aviation. Our women pilots are extraordinary and their stories are inspirational to current pilots and students dreaming of flying futures. Slide show below: A few posed photos and fancy footwear! See slideshow: Saturday evening we had a Cajun dinner, silent auction to benefit the LadiesLoveTaildraggers Scholarship fund and inspiring presentation by guest speaker Jacquie Warda. Slideshow below: Many thanks to the Natchitoches Regional Airport (KIER) and their wonderful staff for hosting LadiesLoveTaildraggers. They opened their facility to us including their main hangar, FBO, courtesy cars and ramp and hangar space for our aircraft. When our planned Saturday evening hangar dinner was in jeopardy due to extreme heat, they reconfigured their FBO in less than an hour and helped the caterer set up allowing us to enjoy a comfortable, air-conditioned, fun evening. Never have we felt more welcome and supported with so much kindness. Thank you Natchitoches!...

Day 2, A Cajun Paradise

Day 2, A Cajun Paradise

With some hopeful planning and a lot of luck, the LadiesLoveTaildraggers Louisiana Fly-in landed smack-dab in the middle of a Cajun paradise, Natchitoches (pronounced “Nack-a-tish”). The local folks are kind and friendly, the small town picturesque and oozing with history, and as expected, full of southern charm.  It’s a hit with the ladies! If there’s one thing you can never plan for it’s the weather. Extreme heat and thunderstorms have been an unwelcome fact but we’ve made it work. A steamy heat wave wouldn’t have been our choice but everyone’s taken it in stride, kept the bottled water on-ice and kept on smiling. Our gals are awesome! Today the flying continued with new arrivals to KIER and fly-outs to both the Stearman Flyin at Jennings, LA and a lunch meetup with the Stearman group at LA52, D.I.’s Cajun Restaurant. Pretty fun tonight chatting during dinner at The Landing Restaurant and watching plates of crawdad etouffee, shrimp and grits, fried alligator, key-lime martini’s and more pass by. Oh yumm! There’s a reason people come here. 🙂 Turns out not only is LadiesLoveTaildraggers in town this weekend, so is the annual Natchitoches Classic Car Show. There are spectacular antique and classic cars lining all the streets and people are everywhere! You know we ladies love our shoes! We all brought our sexiest favorite pair to enter in what’s turning out to be a very competitive “Best Fancy Footwear” Contest. Tomorrow evening’s the contest – Good luck to us all! Thanks to all the lady pilots who’ve joined us so far. Looking forward to more aircraft arrivals and even more fun tomorrow!...

Day 1, LLT Flyin

Day 1, LLT Flyin

Thursday, October 3, 2019: It’s going to take more than crappy weather to crash this LadiesLoveTaildraggers party! There are gals from around the country fighting their way to the LadiesLoveTaildraggers Natchitoches, Louisiana fly-in. Some made it in today, others are in nearby states waiting for improving wx. The weather gods may have planned a showstopper for Day 1 of our fly-in but our ladies are determined, resilient, and smart. They flew when they could, they landed and waited when it was wise, and they keep on coming. Tonight, a large hangar at KIER is full of airplanes, all flown in by women pilots. More are tied down on the ramp. It’s a beautiful sight! Lady pilots, if you are anywhere near, we’d love to have you join us at KIER. We have a fun day planned for Friday & Saturday. Come join us!...

Life doesn’t get much better than flying a taildragger on a long cross-country.

Life doesn’t get much better than flying a taildragger on a long cross-country.

I have to tell you. Life doesn’t get much better than flying a taildragger on a long cross-country. Doesn’t matter that it’s bumpy. Doesn’t matter that there’s a 35 knot headwind. Doesn’t even matter that it’s hot as Hades and you’re having last minute thoughts about the 70 degree x 19 knot crosswind you may be setting yourself up for. Life is for living and it’s time to do it!...

WooHoo, On Our Way!!

It’s Wednesday morning here in Indianapolis, Indiana. If you were a mouse scurrying through my kitchen, you’d have seen two very excited lady taildragger pilots just itching to get on the way! Our destination – the LadiesLoveTaildraggers Natchitoches, Louisinia Fly-in at KIER. We’ve been planning it for months and it just couldn’t get here fast enough to suit me. But I realize, great things take time, and finally, the time has come. Lisa Kienholz, Luscombe owner from Santa Paula Airport, CA, flew commercially to IND a few days ago to help with all the last minute details. Oh ya, and to fly the 603 n.m. to KIER with me in the Decathlon! After many phone calls, texts and emails, we’ve confirmed and double checked till we said “Enough is enough, let the fun begin!” Sunrise would have been my chosen time of departure but with winds at 3000 feet topping 35 knots, we decided to delay departure till 10 a.m. That couple hours drops the wind sheer from the forecast and our headwind falls off a bit. It’s not too late to get yourself to Natchitoches, Louisiana. Drop in for one day or several, whatever fits your schedule. All women pilots, whether flying a taildragger or nosewheel are welcome. October 3 – 6....

How about a FREE Tailwheel Endorsement?!!

How about a FREE Tailwheel Endorsement?!!

That’s right, a free tailwheel endorsement plus the opportunity to fly a taildragger to the LadiesLoveTaildraggers’ Natchitoches, Louisiana Fly-in. VERY Cool! THE OFFER. CFII, Dianne Wieman, based at 1TE4, a San Antonio, TX suburb will be flying her Aeronca Champ to the KIER, LadiesLoveTaildraggers’ Natchitoches, Louisiana Fly-in October 3. She has an open seat and is willing to provide tailwheel training (Tailwheel Endorsement) before, during and on the return trip to Texas. Start and end point, San Antonio, TX, arriving Tuesday, October 1. Drive in, fly in, any way you can get there. Wednesday, October 2, get familiar taxiing a taildragger and begin takeoffs and landings Thursday, fly from 1TE4 Zuehl Field to KIER Natchitoches, LA to the LLT Flyin Friday & Saturday, attend flyin events including logging time to Friday Flyout lunch and Saturday Flyout breakfast. Sunday, fly from KIER to 1TE4 where you will complete your TW endorsement. All flight time will be in an Aeronca Champ, Dianne Wieman the CFII.Participant to arrange transportation to San Antonio and split fuel costs in the Champ. Camping at the KIER field is free on the field or share half the 2 Queen beds room at Natchitoches. Dianne has bunk space at Zuehl Field at no charge. Please email me at LadyTaildraggers@gmail.com if interested. Provide: Name Cell Phone City/State Based Current Ratings Number of hours logged Confirmation you are available October 1 through October 6, 2019 and accept the above offer Reason to select you for this TW Endorsement opportunity I don’t have to tell you that 6-day flying opportunities like this don’t come along every day. If you know someone who would like to earn a tailwheel endorsement and have a blast in the process, feel free to spread this message. That’s it and good luck. Please spread the word about this fun opportunity!...

Page 1 of 175123»