Sunday, August 1, 2004
Blue Angel Tomahawk
On the air, one way or another
The sun has barely broken the eastern horizon, and the Dixie Chicks are just finishing the song “Wide Open Spaces” on the studio monitor. The on-air light flashes as Dan Stroud turns to his microphone, “You know, Dave, when my wife got home last night, she asked me to take her bra off.”
“So what did you say?” asks his partner Dave.
“I said, ‘Well, okay...I suppose you want your pantyhose back, too.’”
For more than 21 years, Stroud has been a morning-drive disc jockey, half of the immensely popular Dave and Dan radio team in Oklahoma City. At the end of each show, Stroud is off to the airport. It’s because when he’s not on the air, he’s in the air.
Stroud came by his love of the air honestly. His dad, mom and brother flew. He spent a lot of his youth with his father in the family Stinson. Dan soloed in a sailplane at 14, and when he was old enough, moved onto powered aircraft. Since then, he has wiggled his way in all kinds of cockpits, including F/A 18s, B-24s and MiG 29s. He has even flown the Concorde. So what better way to round out that complement of aircraft than…a Tomahawk?
“It’s an underrated aircraft,” says Stroud with honest conviction. His is painted in the Navy Blue Angels’ color scheme. “I’ve found that people who dislike Tomahawks have never flown one. It’s got great visibility, it’s comfortable and it’s wider than a 152.”
Stroud’s attention to two-seaters started years ago when he began learning aerobatics. And for a dozen and a half years, he taught aerobatics in his Super Decathlon. But when he decided to teach his wife how to fly, he traded his tailwheeler for a nose-dragging Piper Tomahawk. She soloed, but stopped when she discovered that she was pregnant. “Looking back, I think she did that on purpose,” grins Stroud. So he had a little time on his hands. And a Piper Tomahawk.
“I decided I was going to turn this airplane into a learning experience,” remembers Stroud. “I was a pretty good pilot, but I had never opened up an engine. I had never done any interior work. I had never worked on any instruments.” And so it began. Stroud took the Tomahawk down to its bare bones.
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