Regular followers of my BLOG or You Tube VLOG know my history. Sixty years ago I was bitten by the “airplane bug” and it has affected my life in the most amazing ways. From the first ride in a Taylorcraft BC-12D to present, I simply never get enough of the wonder and romance of aviation. How lucky am I to have spent all these years focused on just one thing and to have it still give me the greatest pleasure?
I herd a J model Mooney around the sky these days and it is a wonderful airplane. Takes me from A to B in relative comfort and adequate speed. It is a great cross country machine. I have all the bells and whistles in my panel and travel is mostly a matter of programming the equipment properly so that I can navigate my way along the magenta line.
But for a long time now I have been looking for a way to get back to the grass. The Mooney being a wonderful machine, simply does not do grass very well and so I have learned to plan around the shortfall. Still, I sometimes wonder where the romance went.
I dream about those stunningly quiet mist filled mornings at the airport where the dew on the grass soaks through the toes of your shoes. The dreams are so real I can smell the 80 octane exhaust on the building breeze and see the sun’s early morning halo in the east. I see the condensation run into little rivulets and drip from the trailing edge of a wing. I hear the deafening silence of the early morning broken only by the bird songs from the airfield’s other residents. I can smell the sod, feel the weave of the tie-down ropes and taste the cool dampness of the air in the lowness of the airfield.
This type of love affair is nothing new for me and I have been searching for the trail back to it for some time now. There has never been anything more calming in my life than the preflight of a small tail dragger on the grass in the early morning while the airfield is just waking up.
Recently, fate took a hand and I found myself looking into the soul of a small aluminum craft with the nose gear properly positioned at the rear. The more I looked, the more I became concerned that this little craft was lonely and neglected and simply wanted to get back into the air where it belonged.
And so it began. A conversation with the owner seemed to indicate that we were of like mind. I wanted to look further and he agreed to let me.
Come along with me to find the lost spirit of a small neglected aircraft, on a small country strip not far from my home base. A quick trip to the south gathered up my “wresident wrench” Monico, and together we set off to determine the true condition of a hangar find.
You’re going to have a great time!
Author: Tom Speerstra
Tom Speerstra has had an enduring love affair with aviation for over 40 years. Countless adventures have been enjoyed flying students, people, paper, and parcels in everything from Champs to Citations. He has held positions as both Chief Pilot and Director of Operations for Part 135 carriers and holds an ATP, MEII, SES ratings and a Citation type rating. Tom makes his home in Michigan with his wife Elizabeth and Pappy “the dog” Boyington.