When I first started taking lessons in Nebraska in the fall of 1957, the local FBO was also my instructor. I took my training in his completely rebuilt J-3, 3400K now in the Little Rock area of Al, after it went through a tornado at the local airport. What a beautiful aircraft to fly, just like new actually even to the new leather upholstery. Insurance companies are a great thing at times. For a long time (big deal, 4 hours), I had a problem with bouncing when I first touching down in three point even though I made sure I was watching the end of the runway as I was taught. On one landing, I caught myself concentrating on the end of the runway but my subconscious so called mind was watching the ground just outside the left side window. From that day on, I almost never bounced another landing.
Woops, back to the story.
My instructor used to deliver the Sunday Omaha newspaper by air in southeast Nebr, northeast Kansas, northwest Mo (no Steve, not as far down as Kansas City) and southwest Iowa. When rolled up, the Omaha paper was nearly 4" in diameter so the FBO installed a 4" metal tube in the floor between the two front seats. In the J-3, it was more or less right between the pilots legs. My instructor also had an A&P ticket as did most FBOs at the time so made the tube legal.
Sunday after Sunday I would watch him fly over our farm and drop the paper more or less at the front door depending on the winds. Boy was he good at that but considering he was a WW II pilot, he had lots of experience I guess and he also used his J-3 as a crop duster that he flew. After watching him flying over our farm was when I just knew I had to learn to fly. Surprisingly, my Dad, the farmer, went along with the idea as long as I paid for it myself but than increased my allowance for my farm work so I could pay for it. That way, he didn't have to explain to my siblings why I was getting something special. Of course many years later I was able to pay him back with a free trip for both Mom and Dad, compliments of Pan Am, around the world on their flight number 1.
After I had a few hours of instruction, one day he asked if I would like to ride along the next Sunday. Do I need to tell you my answer?
I got to the airport before (surprise, my dad let me use his pickup) daylight and helped roll up and rubber band the papers and we left just after sunrise. He did stick in a couple of barf bags in though. Good CFI for sure.
Since I was along, he loaded a "little" lighter than normal and only the back seat area. He would fly back and reload 3 or 4 times for his entire route which I never flew. I would grab a rolled up paper, insert it in the tube and drop it whenever he said "now". Remember, I maybe had 4 or 5 hours of instruction so watching how he would stand that 170 on a wing tip to catch the farm on the other side of the road was unbelievable. Altitude? And around 50 foot AGL most of the time. Airspeed: somewhere around 60 to 70 mph as I recall. First time I ever felt the forces of different positive Gs.
Since he was also a crop duster, he really know all the area anyway. Although I never actually flew those flights, I sure learned a lot just watching this great pilot. On the days I flew along, my parents were waiting in the yard to wave at me as we went over. Rocking wings of course. By the way, I never had to use one of those bags which surprised me. He had a good idea of what would happen so when we had several minutes from one drop to another, he turned the 170 over to me and I never had time to worry about getting sick which is the key of course. Keep the mind busy. Once near the drop, he would take it back. Talk about looking forward to Sundays. Made staying home on Sat nights worth while.
He also had the J-3, the aircraft I trained in, that flew one sector and he hired a guy to fly it. One day while the other pilot was out, he had a "slight" mechanical problem. The prop came off. Figure that one out. The pilot finally admitted he didn't see the RPM after the prop went away and before he could pull power. Poor engine. As I recall, he landed on a road with no damage other than ego and pulled it off the road by hand onto an entrance into a farmers field and then he walked to find a phone. No radios back in those ancient ages. I suspect the engine might have been pulled apart to check it after they flew it back to the hanger. The prop was found by a farmer later and not damaged all that much. Seems it had enough time to quit spinning and just dug into the soft ground in a plowed field.
At one point my instructor told me after I got my student ticket, he would let me fly the J-3 section to build hours. Free pilot for him and legal time for me just right since no pay for me? Always something to look forward to for me. Almost exactly at 6 hours of instruction in 7 days when we were doing some instruction work and on a normal final, I already had the carb heat on and he pulled all power back and immediately asked what I would do. There was a line of trees just short of the runway which I knew I couldn't clear with no power and at my altitude (they are no longer there now and the power lines have been removed and put underground) and was too slow and low to do much turning and it was all corn fields. I quickly pointed out two big trees straight ahead and said I would fly between them. He immediately returned full power and I climbed over the tree line and did a normal landing (gee, no bouncing this time either after being shook up). He had me come to a full stop on the grass runway and than got out of the front seat and told me it was my aircraft. His only other comment was to remind me that without him, the Cub would float like a feather so be ready for it. His comment later was that the only reason he let me go that day was because of the amount of time it took me to make my decision about landing between the two trees. By the way, even though I thought I was undershooting the landing, I was still too high so made a go around on my first pass. Gee, a guy will do about anything to fly longer on his first solo, right?
My instructor's newspaper delivery operation was written up in the good old Saturday Evening Post at one time.
Buzzing a turkey farm Lincoln, Nebr area, J-3, Franklin 65 powered.
Never try this at home and this was not done by a professional driver.
I had a friend that I went to collage with at the U of Nebr that was a pilot so we decided to go up in matched J-3s one afternoon from an airport in Lincoln, Ne. He was going to take a friend of mine along since I only had a student ticket. I had to do the three bounces and by the time I was released, I couldn't find those guys so decided to buzz my friend's wife at their home nearby which was on a farm next to a turkey farm. I learned one thing that day, never buzz turkeys. After I saw them piled up against a fence, I immediately flew back to the airport and turned the aircraft back in. I never did hear how many turkeys died or if any.
That J-3 was Franklin powered and I was used to Continental. Boy, what a difference when it came to performance even though both were 65 hp. Even as a student pilot I could sure feel it. I was taught at the time to always pull the power back a little after lift off to reduce cylinder head pressure but on the Franklins, it was full throttle for climb. That really got to me. I used to build Chevy race engines at the time and could just picture what might be going on inside that Franklin engine.
Speaking of training, I received my certificate from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, for airframe repair, part of their A&P ticket training program. That was interesting but never used it other than to do some work on a friends PA-12. Splicing wood spar and fabric work. That work had to be inspected by the FAA of course. It really did help me understand what our maintenance personal talked about in later years especially when I had to apply 500 mile duct tape on a 737 to get it home.