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The Piper Cubs That Weren't



 
 
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  #1  
Old August 26th 03, 07:43 PM
Veeduber
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default The Piper Cubs That Weren't

It was olive drab with a big white star on the fuselage and looked like a Piper
Cub but wasn't. I had all the trading cards from Wings cigaret packs and the
aircraft recognition silhouetted cards they'd passed out at school and I could
tell a Mustang from a Messerschmidtt quicker than anybody and a Betty from a
Boston better than most but my dad called the Cub an ‘Elfor' so that's what
it had to be because he was a Veteran and a pilot and a wizard aircraft
mechanic and if he said a hummingbird was a B-29 I would of agreed with him.

They brought them home from the Surplus place down near A****er, one at a time
on the hay trailer, towed behind the ‘36 Plymouth because it had two
transmissions. This was something of a logistical nightmare because we didn't
have enough 6x16 tires to go around and if the hay trailer was on the road,
someone's car wasn't. But they had to use a rubber tired trailer towed by a
car because wagon wheels would break up the blacktop and after the war, the CHP
disapproved of horses on Highway 99.

My uncle Don had lots of Veteran's Points because he stepped on a land mine in
Italy. If you stepped on a land mine and lived to tell about it, the VA would
fix up your face so you looked like something out of a horror movie then give
you a glass eye to go with your wooden leg. You also get a lot of Veteran's
Points which were good for going to school and buying a house but aren't worth
a bucket of warm spit if you were a farmer and already had a degree in Animal
Husbandry from Davis and almost a DVM, which was why he ended up in Italy in
the first place, showing guys how to throw a diamond hitch and shoe a mule. I
didn't believe they had mules in the ETO until my dad told me that's exactly
what happened..

Two hundred and fifty dollars and a bunch of Veteran's Points allowed Uncle Don
to buy the lot of five Cubs that weren't. The funny part is that Uncle Don
didn't want five airplanes, he wanted to raise pigs and for that he needed
lumber but just then you couldn't buy lumber to save your soul. So he greased
up his wooden leg and hiked all over the War Surplus Administration yards at
Tracy and Stockton and A****er, measuring crates and checking weights and
asking what the minimum bid would be for a Veteran with lots of fruit salad, a
wooden leg and glass eyeball.

It just so happened that Piper Cubs came packed in a BIG box, were dirt cheap
and not too heavy to haul home on the hay trailer. Except they weren't Piper
Cubs. But the really crazy part of all this is those pigs, because he wanted
to raise them near Hilmar, California where the summer-time temperature will
make a coal stove sweat.

So they hauled those crates out to the farm one at a time and opened them up
and got all us kids and the women too, to help carry out the wings. The wings
were covered with fabric, the way all good wings were built back then but these
wings had been sprayed with a powerful preservative or anti-fungal compound.
Everyone who handled the wings started wheezing and coughing and broke out in a
rash. Then they fiddled with the crates, which were very well built with lots
of strap iron and bolts and stuff, and rigged some shear legs and used the
tractor to take the crates apart without busting up the wood.

Uncle Don was happier than I'd ever seen him. With the new face the VA built
for him his version of a smile came out as a sneer because that part of his
face used to be his armpit or something. When he first came home from the
hospital the only way to know if he was happy or mad was to watch my aunt
Muriel. When he'd sneer she'd would smile so we'd all smile too and pretty
soon we didn't need her to interpret. He was sneering all over the place,
gimping around and getting in the way as we took the crates apart and pumped up
the tires and rolled the Cubs over by the barn where the wings were stacked.

My grandfather, my dad and my Uncle Don worked all though that summer, pouring
cement, threading pipe and tearing up those crates. My job was to straighten
nails and tamp the concrete after it was placed, making sure there were no
voids. Other members of the family came to visit and helped out some and other
Veterans too, including a few who looked even worse than Uncle Don. It was a
little bit like one of those science fiction stories I was just starting to
read where everyone is working just as normal as can be except they looked a
little strange and had their own language and were actually building a rocket
to the moon, which wasn't any crazier an idea than raising pigs in that
climate. Pigs and chickens don't sweat but we sure did. Most days it was over
a hundred; once it got up to a hundred and twelve and the thermometer is in the
shade on the back porch.

They ended up with four long open-sided sheds facing each other two-by-two, far
enough apart so you could run the tractor between them on the one side to
distribute the feed and go down the other side with the fresno to clear away
the muck, which ended up there because the pens had concrete floors sloping
that way, shaded by the sheds, with a dished out place that caught the water
spray and acted like a pig swimming pool. Nobody had ever seen pig pens like
that before. My dad said Uncle Don got the idea in the VA hospital, which gave
me quite a scare until I understood what he meant.

After supper my dad would wander over to the airplanes and tinker with them.
It took me a while to figure out that he was putting one of them together. Dad
had been in the service longer than Uncle Don but spent most of the war at the
Douglas plant accepting airplanes for the Navy and didn't have as many Veterans
Points. He was waiting for the new quota to come out so he could go to college
under the GI Bill, which he eventually did.

I'd heard Uncle Don talking to him about how to get rid of the airplanes but
they never mentioned putting them together. The airplanes had been in those
crates something like six years and when they packed them up they'd used too
much of something and not enough of something else and my dad had already
declared them ‘not much good.' Coming from him, that meant kindling wood and
scrap iron. Yet there he was, putting one of the airplanes together.

He did it mostly by himself except for us kids to hand him things. I like to
think I helped him more than the other kids but the truth is he did most of it
alone and in a manner that made you think he must have special powers because
he never seemed to DO anything. But the next time you looked, the plane had
grown a tail or a added a wing. I watched him pretty close, trying to figure
out how he did it but he'd say, "Hand me that five-eights box," and when you
turned around the wing would be neatly propped in place when it had been
leaning on the ground just an instant before.

I was just starting to read real books and had quite a few heros like Dr.
Doolittle or Tarzan. Not the movie Tarzan but the real one; Lord
Whats-his-name. That summer I realized my dad was a kind of hero too, not like
Uncle Don with his medals or those guys in the books but a more subtle kind of
hero who didn't want people to know that he had these secret powers. It
worried me, wondering what he'd do if he found out I knew.

After getting it together, the first time he started the engine we expected him
to go flying. Instead, he ran it for a while then shut it off and started
taking the engine to pieces, rigging a tarp for some shade and using an old
door as a table, working on it while everyone else went to church. It seems
there was something wrong with the gaskets, or the way they'd preserved it had
done something to the gaskets; something like that. After Sunday School I went
out to help him. The engine had the same funny smell as the rest of the plane
and you'd break out in a rash from handling the canvas bags. He let me scrub
the seats with Stryker's soap and polish the plastic windows although it didn't
help, being so yellow and all.

The alfalfa field next to the house was ten acres laid out two by five. It ran
from the road to the irrigation ditch. A dirt road ran alongside the field
from our mail box on the county road to a little bridge over the irrigation
ditch, giving access to the fields on the other side. The corner of the house
was 128 feet from the mailbox, which is something every boy knows because
that's pretty close to the distance between second base and home plate. Back
of the house came the yard then the barn and the corral for the cows, taking up
about one football field-worth of distance. After that it was clear sailing
all the way to the irrigation ditch, about two football fields plus a little
more, without any trees or fence posts or powerlines. That became our runway.

The first time my dad flew the Elfor was both a thrill and a disappointment.
The thing actually FLEW which was the thrilling part but he just went straight
off towards Turlock, made a big, wide circle toward the east, back down across
the river and then back to the farm and landed. All us kids expected him to
loop the loop or buzz the house but he just climbed out and flew a fat circle
and came back, which was the disappointing part. Didn't even waggle his wings.
Some of the other kids s******ed until I looked at them. I was pretty big
even then, able to load a bale of hay and even lift a bag of Portland cement
although not very high. A bag of cement is 94 pounds; sez so right there on
the bag. My cousin David was older than me but he couldn't lift a bag of
cement. Still, I was expecting more from that first flight than just flying a
big circle.

When he was putting the thing together he said he would take me for a ride.
After he made that first flight I was ready to jump in and go but he taxi'd it
over behind the barn and started fooling with the tail then the wheels and
after it had cooled off some he began taking the engine apart again. My dad
wasn't a talker but you always knew when he was dissatisfied and he was REALLY
unhappy with that airplane, especially with the magnetos. I began to think it
was a wonder we managed to win the war.

About two days later he took it up again and this time he took Uncle Don with
him. Now that was a surprise, especially to my aunt Muriel, who started
running around like a biddy hen and even crying some.

This time was more like it! He didn't do any loops but he took it up a lot
higher than before and pulled it up until it stopped flying and fell over and
the wing flipped around and they dived toward the ground. He did that several
times and my aunt got so upset my grandmother had to take her in the house. A
couple of times he shut the engine down. Not off; you could hear it was still
running, but not fast enough for the thing to keep flying. Then he'd pour on
the coal and they'd climb back up and he'd do it again.

Coming back to land, they flew circles over grandpa's house, which is where we
lived and did the same thing over Uncle Don's house and dived down and flew
past us about as high as the roof of the barn. You'd think we'd never seen an
airplane the way we were all jumping around and waving like it was VJ Day all
over again. After they landed Uncle Don had a sneer that ran from ear to ear
and my dad had that look in his eye that said he was pretty well pleased with
things in general.

We all went for Elfor rides that summer after the war, all of us kids and all
of the grown ups except aunt Muriel and the baby. Some kids didn't like it but
my cousin David and I thought it was prime.

When the people came to drill the new well for the pigs one of the drillers was
a Veteran and seemed to know all about Elfors. My dad took him up for a ride
and they cut a deal for one of the planes that included using the driller's
truck to haul all the airplane parts out to the airport on East Avenue where my
dad put one together for the driller and recovered it and replaced the crazed
plastic with clear stuff and painted it yellow with a black lightning bolt down
the side. I'd helped my dad sew the skin on an another airplane but I'd never
seen one naked before. I thought it was pretty interesting, especially the
tools. Fixing all those windows, we'd get to some part of the job that was
crazier than a Chinese puzzle and he'd go over to one of his tool boxes and
pull out a tool and it would be the absolute custom-made perfect thing for
doing that particular job. Then he'd wink at me, fellow members of a secret
club. That's when I knew that he knew I knew about his secret powers. So I
stopped worrying about it.

My folks got divorced soon after that. And Uncle Don and his pigs turned out
to be not quite as crazy as we thought. The pigs were a Canadian hybrid with a
couple of extra ribs, meaning they produced more bacon than other pigs. They
were also skinny pigs, if you can imagine such a thing; they weren't fat at
all. That's because they converted most of their feed into meat instead of fat
and because of it, reached a marketable size very quickly. All this just as
the nation was coming off rationing when some folks hadn't sat down to bacon,
eggs and an honest cup of coffee in three years.

The Elfor sat out behind Uncle Don's barn with a tarp over the engine. The
next fall he built a tin shed to keep the sun off the wings. He would fly it
now and then, when aunt Muriel was in town, always with my cousin David or me
as his copilot to help him with his landings because of his glass eye. When
none of the grown-ups were home David and I would take it out and get the tail
up and race it up and down, pretending we were fighter pilots being scrambled
for a mission. It was great fun. Until the day we hit a bump and a gust of
wind at the same time and found ourselves too high to get it down and stopped
before hitting the canal bank.

David and I argued for years over what happened next. It seems we both gave it
full power then we both chopped it back. The Elfor banged down like a big base
drum and we got it stopped just before we hit the barbed wire fence. Only
trouble was, we banged down in the field across the canal, an awkward triangle
of a field that was far too small to fly out of. The cat was very definitely
out of the bag because we couldn't taxi the thing back across the bridge
without tearing the wings off.

This isn't quite the adventure it may seem because the summer before when I
visited my dad he'd taken me out to the flying club at El Segundo and signed me
up for the primary glider course. He'd drop me off in the morning and I'd
spend the whole day waxing wings and playing work-up and getting shot off the
sand dunes at Playa del Rey, along which I learned to fly until I could stay up
so long that the Flight Master would start blowing his whistle and waving his
flag to make me come in. My dad would pick me up when he got out of school and
listen patiently as I showed him my log book and described every second of
every flight. It must have bored him to tears because I had more than a hundred
landings in my log when me & David went dual/solo in the Elfor.

My dad flew up from LA in a borrowed Cub and took the wings off the Elfor along
with most of the tail and used the tractor to tow it back to the barn. Then he
wailed the tar out of me. When I stopped bawling he strapped me into the back
of his airplane and made me show him what we'd done in the Elfor. Then he took
me up and showed me how you were supposed to do it. After I did it right about
three times in a row he climbed out, reminded me to adjust the trim and walked
away. I expected him to look back or to wave or something but he just went on
into the house. So I did two touch & goes and a full stop and was kind of
surprised to see him standing there, watching me. He helped me tie it down
then he cut the tail off my T-shirt and told me to NEVER fool around with the
Elfor again. Unless I absolutely had to.

All things considered, I think he was a pretty good dad.

‘Elfor' of course meant ‘L-4' but I didn't figure that out until later when
I happened across the stacks of manuals that had come in the crates. They
still smelled of whatever it was they'd used to preserve the airplanes. The
next day I got a further reminder of that summer when my hands broke out with
the same rash. Truth is, the penny would have dropped sooner if someone had
called it an Oh-Fifty-Eight because I think I had a recognition card for that
designation.

Exactly how well Uncle Don did with his pigs depends on who tells the tale but
most agree the story begins best with those Piper Cubs that weren't Cubs at all
but Elfors in big wooden boxes.

-R.S.Hoover
  #2  
Old August 27th 03, 02:22 AM
Blueskies
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Great story, Thanks!

--
Dan D.
blue skies at ameritech dot net



..
"Veeduber" wrote in message ...
It was olive drab with a big white star on the fuselage and looked like a Piper
Cub but wasn't. I had all the trading cards from Wings cigaret packs and the
aircraft recognition silhouetted cards they'd passed out at school and I could
tell a Mustang from a Messerschmidtt quicker than anybody and a Betty from a
Boston better than most but my dad called the Cub an 'Elfor' so that's what
it had to be because he was a Veteran and a pilot and a wizard aircraft
mechanic and if he said a hummingbird was a B-29 I would of agreed with him.

They brought them home from the Surplus place down near A****er, one at a time
on the hay trailer, towed behind the '36 Plymouth because it had two
transmissions. This was something of a logistical nightmare because we didn't
have enough 6x16 tires to go around and if the hay trailer was on the road,
someone's car wasn't. But they had to use a rubber tired trailer towed by a
car because wagon wheels would break up the blacktop and after the war, the CHP
disapproved of horses on Highway 99.

My uncle Don had lots of Veteran's Points because he stepped on a land mine in
Italy. If you stepped on a land mine and lived to tell about it, the VA would
fix up your face so you looked like something out of a horror movie then give
you a glass eye to go with your wooden leg. You also get a lot of Veteran's
Points which were good for going to school and buying a house but aren't worth
a bucket of warm spit if you were a farmer and already had a degree in Animal
Husbandry from Davis and almost a DVM, which was why he ended up in Italy in
the first place, showing guys how to throw a diamond hitch and shoe a mule. I
didn't believe they had mules in the ETO until my dad told me that's exactly
what happened..

Two hundred and fifty dollars and a bunch of Veteran's Points allowed Uncle Don
to buy the lot of five Cubs that weren't. The funny part is that Uncle Don
didn't want five airplanes, he wanted to raise pigs and for that he needed
lumber but just then you couldn't buy lumber to save your soul. So he greased
up his wooden leg and hiked all over the War Surplus Administration yards at
Tracy and Stockton and A****er, measuring crates and checking weights and
asking what the minimum bid would be for a Veteran with lots of fruit salad, a
wooden leg and glass eyeball.

It just so happened that Piper Cubs came packed in a BIG box, were dirt cheap
and not too heavy to haul home on the hay trailer. Except they weren't Piper
Cubs. But the really crazy part of all this is those pigs, because he wanted
to raise them near Hilmar, California where the summer-time temperature will
make a coal stove sweat.

So they hauled those crates out to the farm one at a time and opened them up
and got all us kids and the women too, to help carry out the wings. The wings
were covered with fabric, the way all good wings were built back then but these
wings had been sprayed with a powerful preservative or anti-fungal compound.
Everyone who handled the wings started wheezing and coughing and broke out in a
rash. Then they fiddled with the crates, which were very well built with lots
of strap iron and bolts and stuff, and rigged some shear legs and used the
tractor to take the crates apart without busting up the wood.

Uncle Don was happier than I'd ever seen him. With the new face the VA built
for him his version of a smile came out as a sneer because that part of his
face used to be his armpit or something. When he first came home from the
hospital the only way to know if he was happy or mad was to watch my aunt
Muriel. When he'd sneer she'd would smile so we'd all smile too and pretty
soon we didn't need her to interpret. He was sneering all over the place,
gimping around and getting in the way as we took the crates apart and pumped up
the tires and rolled the Cubs over by the barn where the wings were stacked.

My grandfather, my dad and my Uncle Don worked all though that summer, pouring
cement, threading pipe and tearing up those crates. My job was to straighten
nails and tamp the concrete after it was placed, making sure there were no
voids. Other members of the family came to visit and helped out some and other
Veterans too, including a few who looked even worse than Uncle Don. It was a
little bit like one of those science fiction stories I was just starting to
read where everyone is working just as normal as can be except they looked a
little strange and had their own language and were actually building a rocket
to the moon, which wasn't any crazier an idea than raising pigs in that
climate. Pigs and chickens don't sweat but we sure did. Most days it was over
a hundred; once it got up to a hundred and twelve and the thermometer is in the
shade on the back porch.

They ended up with four long open-sided sheds facing each other two-by-two, far
enough apart so you could run the tractor between them on the one side to
distribute the feed and go down the other side with the fresno to clear away
the muck, which ended up there because the pens had concrete floors sloping
that way, shaded by the sheds, with a dished out place that caught the water
spray and acted like a pig swimming pool. Nobody had ever seen pig pens like
that before. My dad said Uncle Don got the idea in the VA hospital, which gave
me quite a scare until I understood what he meant.

After supper my dad would wander over to the airplanes and tinker with them.
It took me a while to figure out that he was putting one of them together. Dad
had been in the service longer than Uncle Don but spent most of the war at the
Douglas plant accepting airplanes for the Navy and didn't have as many Veterans
Points. He was waiting for the new quota to come out so he could go to college
under the GI Bill, which he eventually did.

I'd heard Uncle Don talking to him about how to get rid of the airplanes but
they never mentioned putting them together. The airplanes had been in those
crates something like six years and when they packed them up they'd used too
much of something and not enough of something else and my dad had already
declared them 'not much good.' Coming from him, that meant kindling wood and
scrap iron. Yet there he was, putting one of the airplanes together.

He did it mostly by himself except for us kids to hand him things. I like to
think I helped him more than the other kids but the truth is he did most of it
alone and in a manner that made you think he must have special powers because
he never seemed to DO anything. But the next time you looked, the plane had
grown a tail or a added a wing. I watched him pretty close, trying to figure
out how he did it but he'd say, "Hand me that five-eights box," and when you
turned around the wing would be neatly propped in place when it had been
leaning on the ground just an instant before.

I was just starting to read real books and had quite a few heros like Dr.
Doolittle or Tarzan. Not the movie Tarzan but the real one; Lord
Whats-his-name. That summer I realized my dad was a kind of hero too, not like
Uncle Don with his medals or those guys in the books but a more subtle kind of
hero who didn't want people to know that he had these secret powers. It
worried me, wondering what he'd do if he found out I knew.

After getting it together, the first time he started the engine we expected him
to go flying. Instead, he ran it for a while then shut it off and started
taking the engine to pieces, rigging a tarp for some shade and using an old
door as a table, working on it while everyone else went to church. It seems
there was something wrong with the gaskets, or the way they'd preserved it had
done something to the gaskets; something like that. After Sunday School I went
out to help him. The engine had the same funny smell as the rest of the plane
and you'd break out in a rash from handling the canvas bags. He let me scrub
the seats with Stryker's soap and polish the plastic windows although it didn't
help, being so yellow and all.

The alfalfa field next to the house was ten acres laid out two by five. It ran
from the road to the irrigation ditch. A dirt road ran alongside the field
from our mail box on the county road to a little bridge over the irrigation
ditch, giving access to the fields on the other side. The corner of the house
was 128 feet from the mailbox, which is something every boy knows because
that's pretty close to the distance between second base and home plate. Back
of the house came the yard then the barn and the corral for the cows, taking up
about one football field-worth of distance. After that it was clear sailing
all the way to the irrigation ditch, about two football fields plus a little
more, without any trees or fence posts or powerlines. That became our runway.

The first time my dad flew the Elfor was both a thrill and a disappointment.
The thing actually FLEW which was the thrilling part but he just went straight
off towards Turlock, made a big, wide circle toward the east, back down across
the river and then back to the farm and landed. All us kids expected him to
loop the loop or buzz the house but he just climbed out and flew a fat circle
and came back, which was the disappointing part. Didn't even waggle his wings.
Some of the other kids s******ed until I looked at them. I was pretty big
even then, able to load a bale of hay and even lift a bag of Portland cement
although not very high. A bag of cement is 94 pounds; sez so right there on
the bag. My cousin David was older than me but he couldn't lift a bag of
cement. Still, I was expecting more from that first flight than just flying a
big circle.

When he was putting the thing together he said he would take me for a ride.
After he made that first flight I was ready to jump in and go but he taxi'd it
over behind the barn and started fooling with the tail then the wheels and
after it had cooled off some he began taking the engine apart again. My dad
wasn't a talker but you always knew when he was dissatisfied and he was REALLY
unhappy with that airplane, especially with the magnetos. I began to think it
was a wonder we managed to win the war.

About two days later he took it up again and this time he took Uncle Don with
him. Now that was a surprise, especially to my aunt Muriel, who started
running around like a biddy hen and even crying some.

This time was more like it! He didn't do any loops but he took it up a lot
higher than before and pulled it up until it stopped flying and fell over and
the wing flipped around and they dived toward the ground. He did that several
times and my aunt got so upset my grandmother had to take her in the house. A
couple of times he shut the engine down. Not off; you could hear it was still
running, but not fast enough for the thing to keep flying. Then he'd pour on
the coal and they'd climb back up and he'd do it again.

Coming back to land, they flew circles over grandpa's house, which is where we
lived and did the same thing over Uncle Don's house and dived down and flew
past us about as high as the roof of the barn. You'd think we'd never seen an
airplane the way we were all jumping around and waving like it was VJ Day all
over again. After they landed Uncle Don had a sneer that ran from ear to ear
and my dad had that look in his eye that said he was pretty well pleased with
things in general.

We all went for Elfor rides that summer after the war, all of us kids and all
of the grown ups except aunt Muriel and the baby. Some kids didn't like it but
my cousin David and I thought it was prime.

When the people came to drill the new well for the pigs one of the drillers was
a Veteran and seemed to know all about Elfors. My dad took him up for a ride
and they cut a deal for one of the planes that included using the driller's
truck to haul all the airplane parts out to the airport on East Avenue where my
dad put one together for the driller and recovered it and replaced the crazed
plastic with clear stuff and painted it yellow with a black lightning bolt down
the side. I'd helped my dad sew the skin on an another airplane but I'd never
seen one naked before. I thought it was pretty interesting, especially the
tools. Fixing all those windows, we'd get to some part of the job that was
crazier than a Chinese puzzle and he'd go over to one of his tool boxes and
pull out a tool and it would be the absolute custom-made perfect thing for
doing that particular job. Then he'd wink at me, fellow members of a secret
club. That's when I knew that he knew I knew about his secret powers. So I
stopped worrying about it.

My folks got divorced soon after that. And Uncle Don and his pigs turned out
to be not quite as crazy as we thought. The pigs were a Canadian hybrid with a
couple of extra ribs, meaning they produced more bacon than other pigs. They
were also skinny pigs, if you can imagine such a thing; they weren't fat at
all. That's because they converted most of their feed into meat instead of fat
and because of it, reached a marketable size very quickly. All this just as
the nation was coming off rationing when some folks hadn't sat down to bacon,
eggs and an honest cup of coffee in three years.

The Elfor sat out behind Uncle Don's barn with a tarp over the engine. The
next fall he built a tin shed to keep the sun off the wings. He would fly it
now and then, when aunt Muriel was in town, always with my cousin David or me
as his copilot to help him with his landings because of his glass eye. When
none of the grown-ups were home David and I would take it out and get the tail
up and race it up and down, pretending we were fighter pilots being scrambled
for a mission. It was great fun. Until the day we hit a bump and a gust of
wind at the same time and found ourselves too high to get it down and stopped
before hitting the canal bank.

David and I argued for years over what happened next. It seems we both gave it
full power then we both chopped it back. The Elfor banged down like a big base
drum and we got it stopped just before we hit the barbed wire fence. Only
trouble was, we banged down in the field across the canal, an awkward triangle
of a field that was far too small to fly out of. The cat was very definitely
out of the bag because we couldn't taxi the thing back across the bridge
without tearing the wings off.

This isn't quite the adventure it may seem because the summer before when I
visited my dad he'd taken me out to the flying club at El Segundo and signed me
up for the primary glider course. He'd drop me off in the morning and I'd
spend the whole day waxing wings and playing work-up and getting shot off the
sand dunes at Playa del Rey, along which I learned to fly until I could stay up
so long that the Flight Master would start blowing his whistle and waving his
flag to make me come in. My dad would pick me up when he got out of school and
listen patiently as I showed him my log book and described every second of
every flight. It must have bored him to tears because I had more than a hundred
landings in my log when me & David went dual/solo in the Elfor.

My dad flew up from LA in a borrowed Cub and took the wings off the Elfor along
with most of the tail and used the tractor to tow it back to the barn. Then he
wailed the tar out of me. When I stopped bawling he strapped me into the back
of his airplane and made me show him what we'd done in the Elfor. Then he took
me up and showed me how you were supposed to do it. After I did it right about
three times in a row he climbed out, reminded me to adjust the trim and walked
away. I expected him to look back or to wave or something but he just went on
into the house. So I did two touch & goes and a full stop and was kind of
surprised to see him standing there, watching me. He helped me tie it down
then he cut the tail off my T-shirt and told me to NEVER fool around with the
Elfor again. Unless I absolutely had to.

All things considered, I think he was a pretty good dad.

'Elfor' of course meant 'L-4' but I didn't figure that out until later when
I happened across the stacks of manuals that had come in the crates. They
still smelled of whatever it was they'd used to preserve the airplanes. The
next day I got a further reminder of that summer when my hands broke out with
the same rash. Truth is, the penny would have dropped sooner if someone had
called it an Oh-Fifty-Eight because I think I had a recognition card for that
designation.

Exactly how well Uncle Don did with his pigs depends on who tells the tale but
most agree the story begins best with those Piper Cubs that weren't Cubs at all
but Elfors in big wooden boxes.

-R.S.Hoover



  #3  
Old August 27th 03, 04:41 PM
Eric Miller
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Excellent! Thanks for sharing. Reminds me of Flight of Passage.

-Trent


Flight of Passage was a great book!

If you haven't read it already, drop what you're doing right now and go read
it.
(and if you have, drop what you're doing right now and go re-read it! )

Eric


  #4  
Old August 27th 03, 09:34 PM
VideoFlyer
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What a great story! Entertaining and very well written! You should write a
book (if you haven't already!)

Dave

  #5  
Old August 28th 03, 02:53 AM
Ray Romeu
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Thanks Bob, your post are a joy to read.
Ray

"Veeduber" wrote in message
...
It was olive drab with a big white star on the fuselage and looked like a

Piper



  #6  
Old August 28th 03, 04:38 AM
Veeduber
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Dear Ray,

Thank your for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

-R.S.Hoover
 




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