Gayle Crowder     (North Carolina)

Gayle Crowder (North Carolina)

To Gayle, I am in awe of your passion and determination to learn to fly IN A TAILDRAGGER…. nothing else, no way, no how…. only a TAILDRAGGER would do! You have my ultimate respect for turning your dream into a reality. Congratulations on your 1st solo and all my best to you as you build hours and get that long awaited PPL.  Judy I live in Madison, NC and my home airport is Shiloh (KSIF) Rockingham County Airport. In October 2010 I met a 1941 Taylorcraft taildragger and went on my first General Aviation airplane ride. I was instantly and irrevocably in love! My lifelong endearment with airplanes and my fascination with history and antiques immediately overlapped when I met that Taylorcraft. I never knew “regular people” could own and fly an airplane. What an awakening! I knew I had to fly….and I knew I had to learn in a taildragger. Nothing else would suit me. Thus began my aviation journey. I wanted to make sure I could pass the FAA written exam before I spent money on flying lessons. I started by taking online courses offered free through AOPA, then attended a 2-day ground school class. Two days later, I passed the written on the first try with a score of 93. I was ecstatic…passing that exam meant it was time to learn the “fun stuff”. Months went by as I searched in vain for a CFI who could take me start to finish in a tailwheel aircraft. I joined LadiesLoveTaildraggers.com (LLT) and met some wonderful people, who introduced me to more people, all of whom began scouring the state and, indeed, the entire East Coast, trying to find that elusive Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). We had no luck at all.  Because of people I met through LLT, I joined the Vintage Aircraft Association (VAA)  and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). I went to the VAA Chapter 3 Spring Fly-In and was introduced to a fellow who owned a 1947 Aeronca L-16A. We were each planning to attend an airplane poker run a couple of weeks later. He was going to be there giving short flight lessons and said he’d take me up and let me “have at it.” He was true to his word, and it was wonderful! I loved that L-16A and I wanted to learn to fly in it so much I could hardly stand it. And his plane happened to be hangared at the airport right by my house. It couldn’t have been more perfect… I waited, waited, finally got my first logbook hour after flying a shiny new Liberty XL-2 and felt like a traitor to my own cause. I decided not to give up on getting my tailwheel flight instructor. There were insurance issues to work out regarding a student pilot flying a tailwheel aircraft at the point of solo. So, I continued to wait and wish and hope, and my frustration level was off the chart. Then…I received an email from the L-16A CFI saying he had it all worked out and I could fly his plane from start of training to finish. That was a wonderful day! I was, at last, on my way to learning to fly “the old way.”  That email was better than any gift I have ever received. And thus my long, aimless journey finally had a destination. Flying lessons commenced and I was forever changed. My CFI is just awesome and has more patience than I knew a person could possess. We’ve had to battle bad weather, conflicting schedules, annual inspections, etc. and just fly when we have the opportunity. I am on top of the world now…..on December 14, 2011, I did my first solo flight, 3 takeoffs and 3 landings to a full stop in the L-16A taildragger, a dream come true.  It was a real boost to my confidence and I can’t wait to climb back into that lovely yellow plane next week and continue on this amazing journey. Gayle Crowder...

Barbara Kirmsse’s 1st Solo!!

All those who have soloed, and those who anxiously await the memorable day, will enjoy reading Barbara Kirmsse’s 1st solo account. Thanks Barbara for all the wonderful pictures and description of your 1st solo flight!! December 7th has a new meaning to me as well as reminding me of the enormous impact that the bombing of Pearl Harbor had on our nation! 12-7-11 is the day of my very first solo flight! This day can never be duplicated. Making it even sweeter is the fact that I soloed in a tail dragger…..an Aeronca Champ 7GC! When I woke up on the morning of December 7th to sunshine and little wind….I knew this was the day! I was so excited and full of anticipation……and so ready! I wanted to do this. My instructor, Walt, met me at Flabob Airport at 11:00 A.M. With Walt in the back seat, I warmed up with five pretty nice take offs and landings. The time had come….Walt gave me one last instruction……..let him off at the end of the runway and to “HAVE FUN!” When he exited the Champ and closed the door it was so quiet I could hear my own heart pounding! It was then that I realized that I wasn’t alone…that God was my copilot and Walt had thoroughly prepared me for this moment. I calmed down and concentrated on the task at hand. My Bill was there at the airport but tried to stay hidden so I wouldn’t be distracted. Are you kidding!!?!?!!…..I saw his truck behind those airplanes!!!! I was so happy he was there and….I was focused!!! The scene was set! ……Lights, Camera, Action! I announced “Flabob Traffic, Champ 9872Yanky, Departing Runway 24, Student Pilot…first solo flight, Flabob Traffic”!!!! Then I was on my way rolling down the runway, dancing on the rudders, rotating into solo flight. What an exhilarating feeling as the wind caught my wings and lifted my little Champ into the air! Everything went extremely well and as planned. I was amazed at the courtesy and encouragement the other pilots in the area gave me during my three solo take offs and landings. “Take your time, Champ” and “Whew Who” were some of the in flight acknowledgements. It was on my way home from the airport that day that I called my dad and mom. They intuitively knew by the tone of my “Hello” that I had successfully accomplished my first solo! They were so excited and happy for me….gushing with loving congratulations! I had to laugh when I remembered the day I told my mom that I was almost ready to solo. She immediately said… “Well, your instructor will still be in the back seat, won’t he?” She wasn’t too happy with my answer! My day was even more special due to the support of all my airport buddies who were there to take pictures and to cheer me on! They all helped to make this one of my most memorable days ever! Barbara Kirsmme...

Carla Kalke     (Canada)

Carla Kalke (Canada)

1st Solo!! Congratulations to Carla Kalke! Here’s a new update…. “Carla soloed the Citabria last night..there are 18 flight instructors in her school but only one is approved to teach in a tail wheel. Her Instructor announced to the group that it was OK for Carla to swagger a bit because she was capable of doing something that they were not, followed by a look over his glasses…LOL  Cheers, Robert Cardinal” ——- The following posted August 24, 2011 Carla Kalke is based at Abbotsford International Airport (YXX), Abbotsford, British Columbia. Hi There, I’m a half owner of an Acrosport 2 biplane. I started my flight training this spring and I am training in an early Citabria. I have also flown the 7AC Champ. My favorite is flying the Acrosport 2. I like the extra power and the climb as well as the control sensitivity. I have put in quite a bit of time flying the Acrosport but I have not soloed it yet. I’m fine right now on takeoffs but I have to work on the landings a bit more but that will happen, its just a lot quicker on the controls than the Citabria and a lot more fun to fly. My husband and I flew it back form Oklahoma this spring and it was a cold trip with over 2500 miles in that open cockpit, especially going through the mountains with outside temps well below zero. * I’m really excited about getting my license and learning some basic aerobatics. Carla Kalke...

What’s up with Sneha Harish? (South Africa)

What’s up with Sneha Harish? (South Africa)

Hope all is well on your end of the world and hope you are flying loads! I am enclosing pictures of recent ‘first solo’ celebrations of a few of my students. I love photography and try my best to capture it all for the students because they tend to remember the day they flew solo for the first ever time in an aircraft much more vividly than any other achievement. (I remember mine like it happened yesterday and have looked at my first solo album several times ever since! ) I think the instructor is just as elated as the student is to watch him/her fly that one solo circuit!  * * * * * Happy flying! Sending lots of cheer and sunshine your way!  Sneha...

Olivia Henwood’s 1st Solo (New Zealand)

Good news, a 1st solo in a Supercub! Fellow lady taildragger Neroli Henwood sent this message and pictures to share about a 1st solo by someone very dear to her –  her daughter Olivia! “Just thought I would share a photo and update with you and the taildragger ladies.” Olivia and the Supercub “A couple of days ago my husband Bill, sent our daughter Olivia (19) off on her first Solo flight in our Supercub. It was a very exciting morning. I had an idea it may be the special day, so decide to take the camera along and get some pics. She hadn’t flown for a few weeks so wasn’t expecting it on the day, but she flew so well that Dad sent her off. I must admit to feeling a little sick when she flew past and I realized she was on her own. Much more nervous than when I soloed myself! She really enjoyed it and I have attached a photo of  her solo ‘touchdown’ and I was delighted to see in the photo that she had a big smile on her face.” Olivia and her dad, Bill, sharing a happy moment! “I realize that you northern hemisphere ladies are in the grips of winter, so hope that you get some opportunities to go for a blast and lift the winter blues ): ” “Wishing you blue skies & tailwinds,” Neroli Henwood...

Shannon Gallagher’s 1st Solo, Saturday, July 24, 2010

Congratulations to  Shannon Gallagher of Hohenwald, TN, 0M3 Baker Field, who’s learning to fly in a 1940 Taylorcraft, BC65.  The big news – she just soloed!! We’re proud of you, Shannon!! “Just got back from the airport a bit ago and it went great.  The guys took about 200 pics.  My three landings for the solo were just nice as they could be and everything went off without a hitch.  I now have a solo and a tailwheel endorsement!  Attached are just a few of  the photos.” Coming in on my first solo landing. Also the brick house in the backround of this pic is our house. Not bad being at the end of runway 20. * Me getting my shirt tails cut by our CFII Paul Bridges * Paul walking away and leaving me on my own * Me with what’s left of my shirt! *...

April Gowen     (Virginia)

April Gowen (Virginia)

April Gowen is based at Bealeton, Virginia and flies this 1946 L16 Champ. I am 32 years old, married and I have a 3 year old little girl who is obsessed with planes too!!  I’m a Human Resources Manager by day and a student pilot as much as I can be.  I’ve been flying since August of 2009.  So far I have flown the 1946 L16 Aeronca Champ (that’s the main one that I fly) and a 1940 Piper Cub. I recently did my first solo flight. The guy in the next picture is my instructor.  His name is Chuck Tippett.  He is a CFI and a member of the Flying Circus in Bealeton, VA. That’s his Champ.  He is also a wing-walker.  He has helped over 40 students get their license (he teaches in his free time as he is a full time lineman for the local power company) and I was the first female he has ever soloed, so it was a big day for him too! I decided to get into flying when I went to the flying circus to see the airshow and my husband bought me a ticket to go for a ride  in a Stearman that Chuck (now my current instructor) was flying.  I was scared to death because I had always been afraid of flying.  But there was something about the rumble of the engine and the smell of the fuel and the element of risk that was magnetizing to me. So he took me up and I remember it was such a wonderful and exhilarating feeling, that I actually cried tears of joy while we were in the air!  It was at that point that I was hooked.  I  now  eat, sleep, and breath flying.  And it’s the old fashion, “real” planes like you say, that excite me most. Maybe sometime the group can check out the Flying Circus.  I know that the local chapter of Women in Aviation International has a fly-in there every year, but never a group of ladies who fly taildraggers!!!  Also, close to me is the National Air and Space Museum (Udvar Hazy) so maybe in the future it could be a cool weekend event for the girls to use as a get together.  I am posting links below for you to check out: http://www.flyingcircusairshow.com/ http://www.nasm.si.edu/udvarhazy/ If it’s something you would be interested in, I’m sure I could get it set up!  We are also trying to build a vintage plane museum there so it might be a good event for raising donations toward the museum! Hope to get networking with others soon! April Gowen...

Best Friends, Janice & Andrea’s First Solos (Kansas)

Actually, these cute little girls aren’t our “1st Solo – Best Friends” (Janice & Andrea) but I get the feeling they sure could have been! Best friends and 16 years old when they each soloed several years ago, Janice Griggs and Andrea Hattan-Stang of Goddard, Kansas had the good fortune to learn to fly in the Griggs family’s 1937 Aeronca “K”.  Janice’s father, Jerry Griggs, instructed both girls, soloing his daughter one day and her friend, Andrea the next. Janice is now 21 and in Oregon studying aquarium sciences.  Her shirttail still hangs on her wall while she is away at college.  Andrea comes from a family of pilots and has about 50 hours.  Her brother is a pilot, her dad a pilot, her mom a pilot (in a Luscombe), her granddad a pilot and her grandmother a pilot.  Her new husband is a crew chief on Army helicopters and Andrea would like to finish her rating when he returns from Iraq while he learns to fly too. Jerry Griggs’ “K”, registration NC18869, was converted from the original 36 HP 2 cylinder Aeronca E-113 engine to a 65 HP Lycoming O-145 in 1970. Kansas – Texas, it doesn’t matter – aviation really is a very small world.  Jerry Griggs, from Kansas, who owns this ’37 Aeronca, located his aviation mentor, Lori Adams, from Texas, on this website.  He started in aviation working for Lori Adams in 1967 at her flight school in Texas and is who he credits with inspiring his love of aviation.  See Lori Adams – Texas ! Here is a future lady tailwheel pilot, Jerry’s granddaughter and Janice’s niece.  She is now five years old and perhaps in eleven more years she can solo his 1937 Aeronca.  By the way, her name is Jazelle Aeronica Morris and Jerry swears he had NOTHING to do with naming that baby.  She is the daughter of his oldest daughter who helped him varnish the wing’s woodwork prior to covering in 1985.  The misspelling of Aeronca = Aeronica is intentional to make it sound more feminine.  Her sister is Joslyn Piper Morris.  He had NOTHING to do with naming her either!...

Page 2 of 212