View Full Version : A Grand Lady

02-11-2007, 02:13 PM
It was a cool fall afternoon in south Texas and I seemed to hear the soft calling of my “Baby” as I approached the old military hanger. I eagerly pushed on the super heavy hangar door and finally felt it move towards the recesses of the hanger wall. The little red and white PA-12 was perched just inside at “her” corner in the front of the hanger.

Her age was easily ignored when you got to know her. She seemed to have a kindly grandmother’s personality and knew just how to take care of her “newbie” owner. She seemed to delight in showing her pilot how to correct his mistakes without discouraging him. Within a short time, she would teach him to love her kind of flying.

That calm afternoon was just her cup of tea and she seemed to sigh as I gently rolled her into the sunshine. Baby was not the kind to care for the long taxi to Laredo’s 14, but she knew that we would not use much of the runway and soon be over some beautiful ranch country.

With her usual grace, she lifted off and we were off for some fun. One of her favorite areas was a huge ranch just 10 miles north. The rancher seemed as crazy about Baby as I was. Often Baby would seek him out somewhere on the ranch and we would pick him up. She did not seem to care where he was or what we had to do to get to him. She just did it without any strain.

In the late afternoons, Baby liked to hang around in the sky at about 500’agl. She knew that down sun deer would stand out in almost golden colors. With her engine idling and coming out of the sun, we could sneak right up to the deer. A slow pass and we were up and gone again, seeking the next beautiful scene with wild animals peering up at us. Baby and I spent many a calming afternoon in this manner. Neither of us trying to get somewhere or accomplish anything special, just hanging out together.

Baby took me cross country to get my private license in Alice, Texas. I had figured that the examiner would be a new CFI and would not want to spend a lot of time flying around in an old taildragger. I was wrong! The first thing the gray haired examiner said was “Hey, A PA-12! I CUT MY TEETH ON ONE OF THOSE!” I silently asked Baby for her support.

Baby did a fine job of hiding my imperfections and seemed to carry me back to Laredo with a “I told you it would be ok.” air.

Some types of aircraft are made for speed, some for looks, some for acrobatics, but Baby was made for country flying and she beat all the rest at it. May her kind always have a chance to show newbies what puts the word “love” in flying.


02-12-2007, 09:26 AM
i agree with your story whole heartly,my first plane was a stock 115 h.p. pa-12,next a modified 150 h.p. pa-12,5557H
was my last pa-12 with all of the bell's whistle's,loved all them.
now a pa-18-160 take's all of my time and money,2nd one in the last couple of year's,but i still remeber my first few hr's in my stock crusier,bringing her home from arizona with only 1.5 hr's of tail wheel instruction.

jr. :o