Letters

Mr. Piper and the J-3

January 1, 2013

A former AOPA vice president of public relations, Charles Spence, celebrated the life
of William Piper Sr. on the seventy-fifth anniversary of Piper Aircraft.

As the granddaughter of W.T. Piper Sr., I was delighted to see your “75th Anniversary of Piper Aircraft” cover and to read the accompanying articles about my grandfather, the Cub, and some of its owners. I do want to correct one thing, however: on page 46, that is not William T. Piper Jr.’s uncle Howard sitting next to W.T. Sr., but rather Uncle Bill’s younger brother Howard “Pug” Piper, my father. It was he who, as vice president for research and development, started the Vero Beach plant, now the main production facility for the company, which sadly has been out of family hands for years. In 1955, with Uncle Bill as co-pilot, my dad was the first to fly a light aircraft across the South Atlantic, flying from Lock Haven to Pretoria, South Africa, in 95 hours. Thanks very much for bringing back some wonderful memories with your articles.

Pat Piper-Smyer,
AOPA 364005
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

pilot magazineI had the pleasure of being friends with Bill and Beth Piper during the 1980s and ’90s. The Pipers were one of the progenitors of the greatest generation, in the airplanes they provided to the military. Countless thousands of us learned to fly and the lucky ones owned a Piper airplane.

In a true Horatio Alger tradition Bill and Beth became investors in my television station and were some of my staunch supporters, even through the toughest times. Bill was an entrepreneur in the true sense of the word and stood behind those he believed in. He regaled me with many stories, but one that stuck with me most was when he told me how much it took to construct a Piper Cub in man-hours, material, and an engine from Lycoming, and how they would wait to make sure they had a solid sale before the old man would send them to Lycoming to pick up the engine. Talk about working close to the vest. We had the pleasure of staying with Bill and Beth in Lock Haven and heard many stories and vignettes that I am sure others have never heard. People like the Pipers are few and far between in our hurried society, but I can say it was my pleasure to have known and been a friend to one of the standouts of the last century—Bill Piper.

Bill Darling,
AOPA 578120
Cape May, New Jersey

J–3 heresy

Just wanted to chime in on Barry Schiff’s comments on the Champ. I couldn’t agree more about the importance of learning to fly on the basics. These early airplanes are true three-axis airplanes that you have to learn to hand-fly all of the time, in all three axis. Newer airplanes spoil students and they don’t get the chance to learn flying by feel. Wow, those really were the great days!

Mike Rhodes,
AOPA 497857
Milwaukie, Oregon

I agree wholeheartedly with Barry Schiff (Proficient Pilot: “J–3 Heresy”). The Champ is superior, a little faster, a great rudder airplane, lands easily, and handles well in the wind. I expect he took a little heat, but facts are facts.

Steve Whittenberger,
AOPA 3519763
Hartwell, Georgia

10 ways to die

What a great summary of pilot wrongdoings (“Technique”). Somewhere along the way I think flying has become too commonplace, if that’s the right word.

When my teenage daughter told me she wanted to be a professional pilot, I told her that I’d support her under certain (my) conditions: The first two years after high school would be in an A&P school, followed by an aviation-related bachelor’s degree; her first flight instruction through solo would be in a taildragger.

She did this and more and by the time she had the commercial certificate she had about 200 hours of tailwheel time. Not only does she have an A&P, she also has an IA and maintains her own Cessna Skymaster, and she is now a captain on a major airline. And I never worry about her! 

While flying is fun, it requires a considerable depth of knowledge and attention to detail. People are not taught in many cases anything more than superficially about the wide scope of things that are going on, from physics to thermodynamics, every time they fly. The scary thing about all of this is that if the kinds of things that Dr. Chien describes continue, it will only lead to unwanted regulatory action.

Bob McGrath,
AOPA 357425
Columbus, New Mexico

I was shocked and disappointed to see your article “10 Ways to Die.” Do you really think that this negative title helps create greater interest in general aviation? It helps contribute to an already high level of fear that most of us pilots have. The content of the article was fine and helpful, but “10 Ways to Stay Alive” or “10 Ways to Stay Safe” might have been more appropriate.

Rick Blumenthal,
AOPA 6964719
Sherman Oaks, California

Restless Wildcat

I so enjoyed reading about the infamous day in my dad’s life—December 19, 1944—when he splashed into Lake Michigan (“Briefing”). My dad and mom were to be married the following week, but the accident caused the wedding to be postponed until January 2, 1945. My father passed away September 30, 2007. I wish he had known about his aircraft being recovered from Lake Michigan.

Ann Bevan Cinderey

AirCam River Run

Dave Hirschman did it again. The “AirCam River Run” article is outstanding. Hirschman puts me in the seat with him. His writing is descriptive, clear, concise, easy to read and comprehend. I never lay his articles down until I have come to their complete end and then I am fully satisfied for the time spent.

Phil Lockwood was a student of mine when I was an instructor at the Florida Institute of Technology. I can still see this skinny little boy with a big grin. Little would I have thought at the time that he would be doing such an outstanding job in general aviation.

Bob Redfern,
AOPA 345886
Melbourne, Florida

Freedom to fly

freedom to flyJohn S. Yodice’s “Pilot Counsel” column is not a deviation from his norm that he need apologize for. It may be his most profound. Yodice’s statement, “…the right is being recognized and declared to exist, not being gratuitously conferred by the government” is the heart and soul of this great nation.

Glenn Timm,
AOPA 216011
Polson, Montana

Please, Mr. Yodice, do not apologize for this article! Nothing could be more central to our interests as pilots.

Michael Gibbs,
AOPA 699401
Phoenix, Arizona

Warriors to wings

I received my private pilot certificate at Biggs-Army Airfield in Fort Bliss, Texas. I am greatly indebted to both the army and the dedicated people who ran the flying club. The opportunity shaped my life. For that I will be forever grateful. Today our troops give so much. It would be great for them to have a chance to experience what I did. As we seek to rekindle a fire for flight in our younger people, I cannot think of a better place to start than the military. Thanks for your “Warriors to Wings” article.

John Gray
AOPA 964980
Mount Sterling, Kentucky

Errata

In “micro” (December 2012 AOPA Pilot), the base price of an FLS Microjet from BD-Micro Technologies was reported inaccurately; it is $189,500. Also, the microjet’s engine type, a turbojet, was incorrectly described. In “Hitron” December 2012 AOPA Pilot, the photo incorrectly identified the pictured ammunition as a 7.62-caliber tracer round. This is a 50-caliber inert “dummy” round used for training purposes. AOPA Pilot regrets the errors.

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