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Taking Off In An Old Aeronca Chief On A Short Grass Strip With Tall Trees All Around

Pilot Ric Petit was in for an uphill (literally) battle while on his way to an airshow.

Taking Off In An Old Aeronca Chief On A Short Grass Strip With Tall Tree All Around
Illustration by Barry Ross

A few years ago, I was involved in a local chapter of an organization that is into preserving military aviation history, originally World War II stuff. Our chapter had two Stearmans, a PT-19, three L-19 Bird Dogs, an L-4 Grasshopper (Piper Cub variant), an L-2 Grasshopper (the Taylorcraft version) and my old Aeronca Chief dressed in Civil Air Patrol colors. 

I didn’t think my Chief really fit with the “in crowd,” as the L-birds were that cool shade of olive drab, and the Stearmans with the round engines were navy trainer yellow. With the Chief—civilian white with CAP markings—I felt like I was wearing a Beach Boys shirt at the Sturgis Bike Rally, where everyone wears black, wearing gloves with the fingers cut out, leather vest, bandanas, etc. You get the picture, right?

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