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My friend David has a nose for aircraft; by that, I don’t mean that he exclusively enjoys the nose sections of  individual aircraft (despite the fact that he knows a great deal about nose art!), I mean that he can almost sniff them out…..

There we were, our visit to the 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum at Geneseo, New York, (home of the famed Geneseo Airshow) was almost over, and he suggested that we might look behind this rather dusty, and to my eyes, unpromising door. It lead to a small annex, where we found a selection of exhibits stored away from the main collection – well done, David! Here you can see what appears to be a New York National Guard Aeronca L-16A, finished in typical U.S. Army scheme of the 1950s, all-over silver, with appropriate warning stencils and serial numbers. Aeronca had produced many hundreds of O-58 Defenders during WW2, but they were overshadowed by the products from Piper, Taylorcraft and Stinson, who seemed to get all the publicity and the majority of the front-line rôles. Never the less, every type in this class of liaison aircraft were collectively refered to as ‘Grasshoppers’.

The same need for artillery observation, casualty evacuation, training and liaison remained in the immediate postwar years, and Aeronca upgraded their basic Champion model, by adding a more powerful engine – Continental Motors Corporation O-190-1 of 85 hp, strengthening the wing and making alterations to the undercarriage. This Model 7BCM Champion sold well in the civilian market, and it was adopted (with alterations) for the U.S. military, as the L-16A. The L-16A, and a slightly more powerful version, the L-16B, saw service during the Korean War with the U.S. Air Force, as well as R.O.K. forces (seven were supplied to South Korea). Postwar, many were passed on to the Civil Air Patrol, or used by National Guard units, before eventual disposal to private buyers.

I said that this aircraft appeared to be an L-16A. However, there is a small civil registration, N3033E, under the tailplane. This reveals that this is a Aeronca 7BCM Champion, c/n 7AC-6619, built in 1946, and re-worked to resemble an L-16A (despite having the lower-powered Continental A&C65 engine of only 65 hp) of the New York National Guard.

There are some genuine L-16A aircraft still active, although substituting their original wooden wing spars for modern metal ones can cost owners around $13,000! Elaine Huf of Kingsley, Pennsylvania flies an amazing 1947 L-16A (N4008A, ’47-1095′); the aircraft is called Rudolf, and Ms Huf definitely does NOT believe in low-visibility camouflage – Rudolf is bright pink!

Oh, and the figure in the background, wearing a snow-hat (the hangar was unheated, and the outside temperature on the airfield was about minus 20F) is none other than David, who is searching for yet MORE aircraft – and he found some, too!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Some folks like to paint (10+ / 0-)

    their civilian aircraft in warbird markings.  Interesting.  One thing I never understood was why several people I know insisted on painting theirs in camouflage.  We live in the freaking mountains, for Pete's sake.  If you happen to crash or have a forced landing, I want to be VISIBLE.  

    I was always partial to Navy trainer markings. White with Dayglo orange trim.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 04:39:57 PM PST

  •  An acquaintance of mine bought a 65 hp Champ. (7+ / 0-)

    He brought it out to where we were flying gliders one afternoon.  He offered me a little stick time in it, so I climbed in.  It was not a particularly hot day, but the grass needed mowing and was six to eight inches high.  The gliders and tow plane, a Piper Pawnee, had no trouble with it.

    We ran that Champ all over the field, but the tallish grass was so draggy we could not get enough airspeed to get it off the ground.  Felt like we were trying to take off in mud. He was a rather smallish guy, but I am not.  The two of us put the plane right at gross.

    That little 65 hp Continental engine chugging for all it was worth, but not enough to get it out of the grass.  If he had the bigger 85 or 90 hp engine, I might have gotten a little Champ stick time that day.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 04:49:20 PM PST

    •  A great story... (7+ / 0-) a way, I am GLAD you didn't 'aviate' as that little thing would have been tettering on the edge of a stall all the time!

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 05:10:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Aeronca products (5+ / 0-)

        have some of the most unforgiving stall characteristics of any airplane ever built.  I would like to see the stats on how many spun in because of an uncoordinated turn from base to final.  

        The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

        by Otteray Scribe on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 06:29:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ouch! That sounds like a major aerodynamic fix... (5+ / 0-)

          ...which never got done!

          'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

          by shortfinals on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 09:04:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Aeroncas like to spin. (4+ / 0-)

            Easiest airplane to spin I was ever in.  Spin entry was way faster than even a J-3 Cub.  Spin recovery is easy, but they spin with little warning.  

            The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

            by Otteray Scribe on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 09:52:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I think a lot of pilots are killed or injured (4+ / 0-)

            when they spin in on an approach to landing stall and spin.  As I said, the Champ is really bad about that if you are slow and uncoordinated when you turn from base to final.  Spin recovery is easy if you have enough altitude and spin training, but there is a natural instinct to try and pick up the dropping wing with the ailerons, which exacerbates the situation.

            I was approaching the airfield at Oxford, MS one day.  The runway is 9-27, due east and west.  The airport is on top of a low hill, and it is notorious for the wind blowing in all directions, sometimes all at the same time it seemed.  I was approaching runway 9 on a hot morning with some gusting wind.  I was in my Cessna 177B Cardinal, and had just leveled the wings and was slowing down on final approach.  I was probably going about 75 mph and level descending attitude.  Suddenly I caught about a 15 Knot wind shear gust from directly behind, giving me a relative wind well below stall speed.  The left wing and nose dropped at the same time. Thanks to spin training and a lot of glider experience flying on the ragged edge of a stall, instinct took over.  Instead of trying to pick up the left wing, I stomped the right rudder to the floorboard and pushed the yoke forward.  I regained flying speed and managed to level the thing out about two seconds before the wheels touched down on the numbers.  There are times when one needs an underwear dispenser in the airplane right along with the barf bags.  

            Without experience with spins and slow speed flight, I would have tried to roll the wings level and pull back on the yoke.  Had I done so, impact angle would have been about 85 degrees.  I think it borders on criminal that the FAA no longer requires spin training.  From talking with flight instructors, the FAA even seems to discourage it.  I learned to fly in a different era.

            The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

            by Otteray Scribe on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 10:08:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Got about 8 hours in a Citabria… (9+ / 0-)

    …which is a derivative of the AirKnocker Champ. By saying so, I have to confess to flying (eh, eh) under false colors, as all of that was X-country time with my dad handling the tricky stuff.

    Oh, I was a licensed pilot, but virtually all of my time is Cessna tricycle time. You know the old story—you can teach a taildragger pilot how to fly a trike, but a trike pilot is doomed to always feeling on the ragged edge of a ground loop.

    My father learned to fly after the war (courtesy of the GI Bill) in the ubiquitous Cub, and passed his Private in one, so he was wholly schooled in the genre. Of course the GI Bill paid for the training, but it didn't pay for bug smashing, so he basically had to put his still wet license in a drawer for 25 years.

    Well, I got one over on him, as when he decided to renew his flying once I had started, he didn't have a Blue Seal on his airman's certificate. Ha! He eventually got enough hood time to earn it, but by that time I was Instrument rated. Ha, again!

    Well, he ultimately won, because the club Citabria he'd been flying to get back in the game just whet his appetite and he wound up buying a Cessna 150. I got to log some hours in it, too, but the real thrill was having him take Mom out flying around South Florida—something he'd never been able to do when he first got his license.

    I was sad when his regimen of medication for assorted ills DQed him from a medical and he had to sell the airplane. I expressed the sorrow to him and he gave me a response that was one of the biggest lessons in life I ever got—he said, "I always wanted to own an airplane, and I did. What's to feel bad about?"

  •  I stopped in at Geneseo one time. (5+ / 0-)

    I remember climbing around inside a C-119 cockpit; the aircraft needed a lot of work at the time.

    I just pulled up Google maps view, and it looks like that Flying Boxcar is still there, along with a DC-3 with Invasion Stripes.

    If you were at Geneseo, you weren't all that far from the Grand Canyon of the East and the largest dam east of the Mississippi at Mount Morris.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 05:11:01 PM PST

    •  To tell the tale... (5+ / 0-)

      ..David and I had parallel careers, he with the Imperial War Museum, myself with the Science Museum. After he lost his beloved Jeannie, and had retired, he decided to take a 'round the world' trip, hitting the major aviation museums. Before the last leg home (BOS to LHR), he and I planned a four day tour around New England and New York State. Now this was February, which had been FINE when he was in Australia and New Zealand and Hawai'i and California and OK-ish in Washington State. HOWEVER, February in New England is generally 'asking for it'. Our trip became known as the 'Infamous Ice Road Trip'.

      We arrived at Geneseo, at the end of a blizzard, and the access road to the hangars was 'interesting'. We had called ahead, and found somebody waiting for us. We had a great time, and photographed everything (many aircraft undergoing winter maintenance). The C-119 is not in great condition, and being outside in the winter weather, it didn't look too good. The C-47 was in a worn colour scheme, and also needs some work.

      Still, it was a great visit...and David thought so, too!

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 05:43:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I might have flown in that c119 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shortfinals, xaxnar

      in the Civil Air Patrol , CAP, in high school, we went all over upstate western ny in the afternoon flight.

      No insulation, the propellers and exhaust are just a couple of feet outside the thin aluminum body, absolutely deafening, no earplugs, no nuthin but the view.

      This machine kills Fascists.

      by KenBee on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 02:07:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We had a Champion at my A&P school (5+ / 0-)

    Kept indoors with the wings removed.
    This was the centerpeice of the section on fabric covering.
    I was always thinking about what it must have been like to get shot at in that plane while acting as an observer....

    Everybody got to elevate from the norm....

    by Icicle68 on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 05:16:09 PM PST

  •  My sister married into a family of pilots (5+ / 0-)

    and her wedding gift was a 1946 Aeronca Chief that they had helped restore with her father in law.  I got to fly it a few times, was a fun plane, but as Otteray Scribe says above, it always felt a bit underpowered.

    The Cessna 150 Aerobat was more fun!

    Great pics, love this series!

    BTW, last I saw, the Chief was in pieces, some of it in my sister's basement, some of it at the hanger where they keep their early 50's Aeronca Sedan (I think that's the model - it seats 4 uncomfortably).

  •  "he knows a great deal about nose art" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shortfinals, ER Doc

    He nose a nose?

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 05:58:22 PM PST

  •  Aeronca champ flight (5+ / 0-)

    My long gone neighbor had one for a while, and he took me flying in it. It was the smallest and slowest aircraft I'd ever been in, and I was amazed by the spartan instrument panel, and it seemed the generator ran off a little prop outside the fuselage? Was I imagining that? As previous posters have stated, it was not a speedy flight. We just kinda floated and droned above the Sacramento valley.
    Thanks for the writeup on this one.

  •  un 'tit cadeau (4+ / 0-)

    … from the people who put this together. I merely chanced upon it and thought, "Short Finals would probably like this!"

    Musée SAFRAN -- Bibliothèque

    Cette rubrique offre la possibilité de découvrir et de consulter les publications qui ont marqué l’histoire du groupe SAFRAN.

    Pour consulter les différentes publications, il suffit de cliquer, dans la bibliothèque sur le rayonnage de votre choix.

    If you can navigate the interface there's lots of content.

    If you happen to come across anything about les soucoupes volante (dit: OVNIs, dirigeables de mystère) please let me know. Don't laugh! You might be surprised where they crop up in the older literature. (That wasn't what i was looking for; it's just occurred to me that something might be in there.)

    All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

    by subtropolis on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 09:14:31 PM PST

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