"Son," goes the old pilots' story about a mother whose boy had just soloed, "I want you to promise me always to fly low and fly slow." She was speaking, of course, about the age of sport and adventure in the air, to which the planes on these and the following pages belong. They are products of a movement begun seven years ago by a dozen men who formed the Antique Airplane Association to preserve the "early birds" which lay rotting in a thousand junk yards, pastures, barns and cellars of America. Today the antiquers are 4,500 strong, and they proudly show their gleaming beauties—every one of which still flies—at regularly scheduled "fly-ins" like the one recently at Oskaloosa, Iowa, where these were photographed. For more of them, turn the page.
Winged Names of Yesteryear
There are names in aviation that still ring with a distant music in the ears of thousands of now middle-aged Americans: Waco, Fleet, Robin, Ryan, Great Lakes, Fairchild, Aeronca. These are the ships that buzzed the fields and the hearts of youth in flying's golden age; today they fly again, rediscovered and rebuilt with loving hands. Hank Kennedy, a student at San Jose State College, California, in 1954 heard that a Great Lakes Trainer was concealed in a cellar in town. "It was a basket case," he says. It took him two years to persuade its owner to part with the remains. When Kennedy finished restoring it, the old plane passed its FAA flight tests the first time up. Encel Kleier found his Davis V-3 at an Oklahoma airfield where it had been left after turning over in an accident several years ago; he has traced its history all the way back to its first owners in Chicago. Bill Adams' Boeing Stearman is the finest of its type in existence today; he bought it from Marion Cole, a champion stunt flier, rebuilt it completely and now stunts it himself with the Cole Brothers Dare-Devil Barnstormers. Judy Cole, wife of Duane Cole, the show's owner, walks the plane's wings in flight. The Aeronca C-2 owned by David McClure represents a milestone in aviation: the advent of the true light plane. With its two-cylinder, 30-horsepower engine, it weighed 400 pounds, cruised at 63 miles per hour and is today, along with its many successors of the Aeronca line, still known affectionately among pilots as the "Airknockers." As for the Waco VKS-7 now flown by Ray Brandly—it bears a name inseparable from those sporting days when Wacos dominated the races, air shows and skywriting exhibitions so popular before jets were even a dream.