Poem in Your Pocket Day

Who would guess – there’s a day called “Poem in Your Pocket Day” and it just happened to be this week. (You can learn a lot listening to PBS while driving to work!)  The day slid by unnoticed on the blog but it got me thinking about the lovely poem, written by our very own lady taildragger pilot Melinda Hooper, that says it all so beautifully. ODE TO A CHAMP In the fall of nineteen-ninety On a mild November day, I lost my heart to a little white Champ As it flew me up and away. So unhappy was I that I didn’t know how To myself take a plane to the sky. And I hadn’t the funds if I did have the skills, To buy my own aircraft to fly. Well, after a while I’d mastered the art Of piloting planes in the blue. But to own a champ – now that was a thing How to manage I hadn’t a clue. For that kind of airplane was rising in price So much faster than I could save. By the time I had enough money, I feared, I would have one foot in the grave! Some years went by and I flew the planes With the third wheel on the nose, But my heart was still with the tailwheel types – I just had to have one of those! My funds grew slowly, and from time to time I’d think that maybe I could Find a Champ somewhere that I could afford, But doubted that ever I would. And then one day – YES, there it was! A Champ just perfect for me. The plane, the location, the price was right Oh, could it really be? I conferred and thought, had mechanics look, And after some anxious time, The deal was made, registration sent – Eight-Two-One-Four-Seven was mine! It needed some work and some TLC To achieve a return to the sky, But several months later, inspection complete, The airplane was ready to fly. Now I swing the prop, bring the engine to life And take flight whenever I please. I go up with the birds and the clouds so high And look down on the tops of the trees. Yes, I take off and fly in my very own Champ, From a pretty grass runway, no less! On the fine autumn day those eight years ago, Who would have been able to guess? By “Lindy” (Melinda Hooper) Autumn 1998...

Introducing a daughter to the wonderful world of aviation!

I’d like to introduce you to college student Alicia Brenhag and her dad Jeff Brenhag, and welcome them to Ladies Love Taildraggers. You’ll realize as you read the following comments that it was Jeff who sent in the info about his daughter Alicia who is not yet a pilot. Jeff  flies out of Winsted (10D) & Hutchinson (KHCD) in Minnesota and is passionate about aviation and anxious to pass that love on to his daughter.  From Jeff: I went to the link and filled in what I could for her. I’m hoping this will help inspire her and show her many of the facets of aviation available for young adults and women. This is my daughter Alicia who is presently a sophomore at the University of Minnesota. I have been flying since I was 14 and have been slowly introducing her to the amazing world of aviation so as not to scare her away. My friend Marv took her flying in his Champ which he’s been flying for 39 years. When she’s not so busy at school maybe I can get her to slow down and obtain her license. She’s an accomplished scuba diver at present and I think the hot-air balloon and sailplane should be next. Alicia helps with our hot-air balloon “Aria” when she’s not super busy doing college activities. She wants to fly my Harmon Rocket, but that will take some time before that will ever happen. I’m hoping this website will inspire her more and that she will see other ladies doing what they love and that aviation is a passion and a hobby just as much as it is a career choice. Thanks sooooooo much! Jeff Brenhaug...

Barbara Kirmsse     (California)

Barbara Kirmsse (California)

Barbara Kirmsse us based at KRIR, Flabob Airport, Riverside, California. I am Barbara Kirmsse, 67 years young, live in Alta Loma, CA and learning to fly a tail dragger.  Having never flown before it is a huge challenge to say the least.  My first dreams of flying began with my father when I was just a little girl growing up on a farm in Iowa.  My dad never became a certified pilot but he is a pilot at heart.  He served as a flight mechanic in the United States Navy and has many stories to tell……always with a sparkle in his eyes.  As he was teaching me how to drive the tractor on our farm,  he was also instilling in me the love of flying.  One of my favorite stories is about a student pilot and his instructor.  On the student pilot’s first day behind the stick in the air, the instructor illustrated how to roll the plane over….the instructor had forgotten to fasten his seat belt, fell out of the plane when it was inverted…luckily had his parachute on and escaped unscathed….meanwhile the student found himself on his first flight upside down and no instructor in the plane!  He managed to right the plane and land it!  Keep in mind the trainers were not equipped with radios!!! Twenty three years ago when I was 43 and happily married for 25 years my husband died suddenly of heart problems.  Life must go on but I have never remarried…..waiting for someone really special!  My two beautiful children are both happily married and are living near me.  I also have two fantastic granddaughters, 12 and 20.  Six years ago I retired from 30 years with the Alta Loma School District and never looked back.  During my years with the school district I also did runway and print modeling just to mix it up!   I now take piano lessons, practice at playing golf, and I am learning to fly the Champ!  Three years ago I reconnected with a high school friend at a reunion. Life is good! Bill flies a Bonanza A36 and has been a private pilot since his 20’s when he purchased his first of two planes.  Bill also has an endorsement for a tail wheel.  I love flying and just wanted to learn some basics to land the Bonanza in case of emergency….Bill said why don’t you get your private pilot’s license?  I expressed to him that I didn’t think I could do that…..his response was “Of course you can, you just to have to say you are going to do it …..and by the way why don’t you learn in a tail dragger”! He is my greatest supporter and mentor…..without him I never would have dreamed that I could accomplish such a feat! We have gone across country three times to the Bahamas, Sun n Fun, New Orleans, Key West, Albuquerque Balloon Festival and East Coast as well as many other flying adventures.  We belong to three flying clubs.  On our trip last August to Oshkosh and then, Maine to eat lobster….we had the great fortune of meeting President H.W. Bush (1941) in Kennebunkport.  I am sending a picture taken by the Secret Service! March 2011, I studied for my online, Private Pilot, Airplane ground school test using prepware.com and within two weeks I went to the Universal Air Academy in El Monte, California and passed my Private Pilot Airplane Airman Knowledge Test. I then took and passed my Third Class Medical and received my Student Pilot Certificate. It took two months to find an instructor with a tail wheel airplane for instruction. Finally we found a little airport in Riverside, CA called Flabob. They have an aero club with a Cub and a Champ available! Flabob’s existence dates from 1925, two years before the Lindbergh boom.  It is the seventh oldest surviving airport in California.  With runway 06/24 (3200’ X 50’) adorned by trees on one end and a mountain on the other, it is a little daunting sometimes.  You may find out more about the colorful history of this little family airport online.  Just Google “Flabob Airport” “The little airport that time forgot”.  It is about forty minutes from my home but I was ready and willing.  You really have to want to do this to make it happen. I have 13 hours of training in the Cub and approximately 22 hours of training in the Champ.  I am so close to soloing….I can taste it!  At the very beginning of my flight training, I told Walt Wasowski, my tail wheel instructor, that he would be a miracle worker if he could teach me to fly the Champ. Little did I know that getting it down the runway on the ground was the hardest part!!!!  That tail just doesn’t want to stay behind!  We concentrated on fast taxis until my feet could dance the right tune and the light bulbs came on. Walt is so positive and is a great instructor, not to mention a very patient man!!!  Guess what!  He is a miracle worker, too, because I am learning to fly a tail dragger!  At Walt’s recommendation I had a check ride with another instructor, Jack, yesterday and he was impressed that when doing my 360 turns we experienced my propeller turbulence when I leveled out.  That’s a good thing!  At the end of the ride he said a couple more consistent landings and I was ready to solo. Walt agrees!!! I am so happy that flying is now a part of my life and that I have a very special man to share it with.  We are now looking for a Luscombe to buy so we can fly side by side.  Having a stick is a priority and we like the idea of both sitting together up front. All of you tail dragging ladies are my heroines!  I am in awe of your accomplishments and I love reading about them….all of you are so inspiring!!!!  You will be the first to hear as soon as I solo!!!! Merry Christmas!  You all know what I am wishing for.  Even Santa chose to fly!!!! Barbara Kirmsse...

Recently rebuilt 1946 Champ G-TECC is flying again in the UK

It was a big day in the UK recently when one of our own lady taildragger pilots got to fly her newly rebuilt Champ again! An engine failure forced Nic Orchard to put her Champ down in a cow patch, dead stick, back in July 2008 and the insurance company totaled the aircraft. But that was not to be the end of G-TECC. Nic bought it back from the insurance company and the rest is history. Please take a look at the voyage of Nic’s “Champ Chump”. I promised to let you know, so……………………. ……after 1,192 days, I finally got to fly ‘CC’ again (Champ Chump!). Of course, the weather since that one single flight has developed into a seriously non-champable pattern, so please forgive me if I relish this bit. The full story is an awful lot longer than anyone would want to see, read or hear, but some of the restoration pics are on Nic\’s Pictures  . I owe the current frabjous state to a very experienced gentleman called Brian, who peeps from under a hat here and there. The story is as you surmised, although the cause for the engine failure was quite interesting, especially as the engine had just 120 hours since overhaul and about 5 since a refurbished carb was fitted. The full story is in the AAIB report, attached, except what was found later during the repairs.  The gear collapsed because, it would seem likely, there was a long time pre-existing crack in the right leg, missed by every one on inspections, that maybe gave up in the field landing.  It was a text book glide approach too – really felt like it was coming out right, so I was most surprised when things went wonky. The intake hoses connecting to the spider had migrated, thus the whole engine was running so lean it couldn’t go on.  No warnings at all though, no rough running, funny noises, nothing concerning on the instrument panel.  Anyway the ground loop and subsequent damage (fuselage frame took the shock load so there was welding to be done) made it an insurance write-off.  They paid out, I bought the Jodel and with the change () bought back the Champ from the insurance company (engine not shock loaded and newly overhauled…) and made the decision she would fly again.  Not a very wise decision financially of course, but I like to think of it as ensuring the Aeronca heritage is maintained (even though thousands exist and she is hardly rare). The 90 odd pics are the edited highlights of about 300 – and of course many of the more interesting stages were missed, due to forgetting camera etc.  Just as well, perhaps! The worst thing was the looong wait for the right humidity for spraying dope: about one day a week from spring to summer, both this year and last. The workshop is not exactly state of the art but the aeroplanes that have emerged from it over the years…beautiful.  I wish I could say I did more towards mine than I did, but my contributions were small. * Great to see so much going on elsewhere with the ladies: you surely started something, didn’t you?! ‘Wish I was flying, aren’t we? nic (Nic Orchard)...

I GOT TO FLY THE RNF!!! (Susan Theodorelos)

Susan Theodorelos wrote up a fun little story about her Saturday aviation adventures. Thanks for sharing with us Susan. Sure was fun finally bumping into you and ALL your friends!  Judy Got up yesterday morning…. met Brad down at the airport and hopped in the Grumman (yeah… I know…) and flew up to Urbana for breakfast to meet Daun and Kathy (visiting from Canada, eh?) who had already flown up in the Champ. Gorgeous day to fly… amazing… with a radio you can fly over places I normally don’t get to go with the Waco RNF…. About 10 miles out of Urbana I get a text message.. my dear friend Judy and her husband Boyd are there as well in their Champ! (L-R) Judy Birchler, Kathy Boyko, Susan Theodorelos We settle in for a nice breakfast and look up to see a beautiful 170 taxi in… hmmm… looks really familiar! Seems great minds think alike as George Wilford and his son Brian had the same idea… $100.00 pancakes! Had a nice flight home… zipping past the Champ … and then decided to try and finish the annual on the RNF. The weather was cooperating… we pulled the old girl out to warm up the engine before the compression check… Ready for the first start of the season…. Ahhhh…. the smell of mineral oil in the afternoon! Compression went swimmingly with all cylinders above 74! Me likey! We had to fix the fuel shut off — it had been leaking…. got that accomplished. The sun was starting to sink as we finished buttoning her back up …. I just couldn’t stand it… so I jumped in, Andy propped her and we were off… * Curing my altitude deprivation sickness…. Complete with escorts Andy and Brad in the Champ and Kathy and Daun in the 172. Gorgeous night to fly…. It is amazing how 20 minutes in your plane can put the world back into perspective…. but with the sun just about to dip below the horizon… it was time to land… It was a GREAT day  As the rain, sleet and thunderstorms move in this morning… I might just survive until the next warm, sunny day! Susan Theodorelos WacoRNF...

Pilot Update; Dianne Wieman

Dianne Wieman from Texas writes; “Judy, other than being one of the out of job statistics, my Champ and I are doing great! We do not fly very far lately (even gas costs money!) although we have visited the glider field and took several ladies for special rides.” Link to Dianne Wieman’s January 2010 Pilot Profile...

Judy’s birthday fun!

OK, so this isn’t exactly big news, but a great birthday that involves taildraggers just has to get some face time!  I’m actually amazed any kind of flying happened at all since I’ve been on jury duty all week, meaning I was calling in every evening to see if my number “13” was called.  I slipped by Monday and Tuesday with the last number called being “12”, knowing that on Wednesday, my birthday, they would call me for sure. Do you believe they jumped to “16” and I was off the hook, leaving me with one single obstruction to a perfect birthday – WORK! Well, one quick email and I got that checked off my list and finally, a fun day awaited. Perfect day – 2 Champs, 2 happy Champ pilots! I called my good friend Susan Theodorelos, Waco owner and pilot extraordinaire,  and suggested she take a long lunch so I could meet her at Moraine Airpark for lunch. Not only did she take a long lunch, she took the entire afternoon off, borrowed a 90 hp Champ and away we went for a 2-Champ, fun flying afternoon! Susan driving the Moraine Airpark courtesy car Well, maybe it has Susan’s name on the title but sure would be nice if every airport courtesy car looked this hot! So it’s not a Waco but  I think she likes it! * Hey, it’s me –  of course I like it!! * An aviation enthusiast on left with Susan T & Emerson Stewart at Red Stewart Airfield Here’s the Happy Champ doing what it does best! So the break down; MQJ…Shelbyville…Norris Field (quick grass strip visit)… Moraine Airpark… Red Stewart Airfield… Middletown… buzz Norris Field… back to MQJ. Wow, what a great day and made it home before the sunset so no turning into a pumpkin today! So sad, too much fun, so little time! Susan, let me know next time you borrow a Champ – I’ll be right there!...

Anybody want a ride?!!?!!

At an airport cookout tonight I hollered “Anybody want a Champ ride?!!” and I heard an immediate, overwhelming, absolute chorus of  “YES”…. from the gals gathering side of the hangar!! Giving Champ rides! So away we went, 3 Champ flights, 3 gals who I swear LOVED it, on a perfect blue sky, silky air evening. Geez, I almost missed my slow cooked ribs but it would have been worth it. Too much fun!!! Ladies, get up there and don’t miss any opportunity to give non-aviators a ride in your beautiful taildraggers. We need more pilots and this is how it all begins! Happy ladies still smiling after their flights!...

Diane Wieman’s San Antonio to Middletown, Ohio Flight to the National Aeronca Association’s Fly-in

Flying a Champ from San Antonio Texas to Middletown Ohio!   If the Champ had a memory it would not have a problem finding its way on this trip as it has made the trip 5 times so far!  Most folks would think this would be a daunting task, but a friend of mine said——“just think of it as a group of cross country flights put into a somewhat of a straight line”. Before Shreeveport LA and in East Tx. Our guess was it appears to be “pads” for drilling rigs. * Warren Arkansas—— a nice site when running from the Thunderstorms (this is AFTER we spent the night!) Next comment always heard:  “what about the weather?”  Of course the weather would be the most difficult part of either direction of travel.  The trip usually takes two days, it can take one day and it has also taken three days. Looks like an antler sculpture in green (obviously a farming need to stop erosion!) Just one of the wider river shots—– barges on both sides (not sure whether this is the Mississippi or the Ohio river) Weather helped in the one day trip with a push from the North and the three day was due to a stalled front draped across the path.  When you fly a Champ you know that you are in trouble with head winds when the eighteen wheelers are going faster than you are.  Average speed on the way to Middletown this year was 88 knots and on the way back home 78 knots.   The weather folks called for “pop up” thunderstorms through Arkansas although they forgot to tell mother nature they were not suppose to form a line.  One mad dash to Warren Arkansas found us waiting under the wings in an empty  hanger for the rains to go away!  Being flexible in your travel plans is absolutely necessary. A mine cut out of the side of a hill——- takes a second look to see what this was! The best part of the trip cannot be explained nor do any one of the many pictures I have taken do the views justice.   Views include such things as: miles of pine trees, heartland fields, drilling pads, strip mines, wide rivers, natural and not so natural ground patterns. Henderson, KY put out a red carpet for even the Champ—- nice ‘go fast’ twin behind her! * On the way home——- low flying FOG in the valleys– we are 3000 feet and watching carefully! Traveling less than 1500 feet above the Mississippi river will make you hope and pray the engine does not quit until you get to the other side.  Of course you had to have survived the trip over all of the tall pine trees of East Texas and part of Arkansas.  Logging roads and a few cut spots in an ocean of trees would be the only place to land when looking at this number of trees. Glad that thuderstorm is far far away——— we are on the north side of Sam Raybourn Lake in East Texas—– there was a line of weather towards Beaumont and Houston! * Think we were fighting a headwind?  Looks like a coal fired plant just Southwest of Evansville, Indiana If you have gone to very many safety meetings you have heard the comment, “set your personal minimums and stick with them”.  The trip in 2006 took three days and my personal minimums were challenged several times.  Knowing weather in probably the most important part of a trip of this kind! Diane  & Judy finally meeting up at Middletown on Saturday, after Diana arrived!...

Susan & Judy go flying!

Hope all of your Memorial Weekends were as filled with flying fun as mine! Susan Theodorelos invited us to meet her and husband, Andy, along with a few other friends, for lunch at Grimes Field, Urbana, Ohio.  Its a one hour, plus, flight in my Champ, and I’ve been there enough to know it has a great restaurant on the airport (that serves delicious homemade pies) and makes it a good spot to meet other hungry aviators & aviatrixes.  Andy took a few pictures for us. The lineup; Pete Heins’ Cub, Andy Heins’ Cabin Waco, Susan Theodorelos’ RNF Waco & Judy’s Champ Departing Grimes Field for a formation flight to Moraine meant flying down a narrow chute of uncontrolled airspace between Wright-Patterson AFB and Springfield-Beckley Airport and Susan lead the way. Susan leading in her RNF Waco trailed by Judy in the Champ The slowest plane in the group, I got to be right wing man in the Champ while the Cub amazed the heck out of me and zipped around while the Cabin Waco circled us all taking pictures.  That’s the fastest Cub I’ve seen. Formation Urbana to Moraine flight At Moraine, since you can only hangar fly so long on a beautiful but hot day, and with the mother radial fan offering to cool us both off, Susan and I headed off for my 1st Waco ride. Hold on baby, its Judy’s 1st flight with Susan! Helmets and headsets on, Susan fired up the radial and with the air blowing and the engine roaring (compared to the Champ at least) full throttle and we took off! Beautiful departure shot in the RNF I loved every minute of that flight – especially the part when I took the controls for a few minutes!  If you’re not one of the lucky few that own one of these beautiful old birds (or somehow gets to fly somebody else’s)  jump at any chance you get to hop in one and go around the patch.  I feel extremely lucky to say that not only did I get to fly with another passionate lady taildragger, but that I got to fly in HER 1930 RNF Waco!! 95 degrees out there but very COOL flight! Thanks Susan & Andy!...

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