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I just had to share this folks....


Guest browng
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Guest browng

This morning, out of the blue I received an email from a guy in Tennessee who is a former owner of my '46 J3 Cub, back when she was N3669K, and I just had to share it. This is the epitome of why I love old aircraft, and J3's in particular, I can identify with this guy like he was my brother, but we have never met. I am under no illusion that buying her means that I 'own' her, I am merely the latest of her temporary custodians, and I am sure people will be writing about her like this long after I am dead and gone;

 

"Dear George,

 

 

 

You lucky bastard. (Pardon my Tennessee vernacular...)

 

 

 

I know she was a fright to start when warm sometimes. I'd leave no prime and crack throttle, with no pull through.

 

 

 

Cold, pull through 3 times and light the master, then one pull usually did it. I'm amazed I remember that, so take it with a grain of salt.

 

 

 

I owned her from about 1976 to about 1987. I think I paid $7,100. As I recall she had an A65 when I bought her, but I never bought an airplane it seems that didn't need an engine soon after. When the 65 began to fibrillate before the first annual inspection, we put in a new Gold Seal C85 "zero crank" from Carter. I flew her that first summer from Nashville to Key West, Florida and back with the front seat piled high with camping gear. It took 3 weeks, and the clear memory of that trip is still with me. I met a girl in Crystal River who topped off the tank and invited me to camp there the night. Moving on...

 

 

 

We nicknamed 3669K "Sugar Magnolia" after the Grateful Dead tune, because it seemed "she could wade in a drop of dew." I flew all four of my grandparents in her one weekend, and I imagine there may yet be thumbprints in the forward braces from my Grandma's grip as she "hoo-weed!" and held on to her dear life for the entire flight. Later I flew my youngest son around in her, both before and after he was born.

 

 

 

About the time I bought her my Dad and I had coincidentally both been divorced. I flew her around middle Tennessee that summer looking for property, and we found a very nice farm in Eagleville, Tennessee which he bought, and together we built Bradford Airfield there in 1978, where I used her for instruction during the development of powered ultralights. We also hosted the local skydivers there for several years, where I made my first two jumps from her. The first with Frank Knapp, Jr. flying her from the back seat while I bailed out the front seat over the back of the strut, him hanging on to my pilot chute. The next day I talked him into flying me for a freefall. She became the "special treat" for visitors, including one very eccentric country & western songwriter who used to pay to come out at sunset when I'd slowly fly him down from 8,000 ft deadstick, while he sang his week's work out the open door.

 

 

 

One night I took a lovely lady skydiver who was in my sights for a sunset flight, and we lingered a little too long at altitude. We landed in total zero blackness, completely blind but smoother than daylight, with both hearts pounding. The stories are just getting started. Here's a true one I once fictionalized for a series I wrote for Ultralight Flying! Magazine while I was editor there: http://nobodysflyingschool.com Notice the picture, where she was at the end of one her rebuilds. Not long after that picture was taken, a rowdy skydiver slammed into her tail during a bad landing, and before it was all over the U.S Parachute Association insurance paid for a full airframe rebuild and recover. It took 2.5 of the longest years I can remember before I went up to Bloomington Illinois to seize her back and flew to Sequatchie Valley where I was then living (Mom and Dad having remarried and having sold the airport.)

 

 

 

There are thousands of memories of that Cub. Punching through 3.000 feet of solid overcast on needle, ball and airspeed, rolling along the cloud tops with wings level at the end... holding her in spins until my nose ran, letting her pop out and then spinning the other way. Sniff sniff...

 

 

 

 

 

These days I've evolved to a mostly hang glider only pilot. One of my goals in the next few years is a season-long pilgrimage Down Under which for hang gliding is a bit of a Mecca. Do me a favor, and let me know if you ever decide to sell her. I'm sure I'm not the first soul to ever say that...

 

 

 

 

 

Yours (and still hers, actually)

 

Michael Bradford

 

 

 

 

 

MichaelB"

 

 

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Guest pelorus32

George,

 

that's simply wonderful. The guy is a great writer but the story is wonderful too.

 

Thanks very much for sharing it.

 

Kind regards

 

Mike

 

 

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not many times do i read a story twice, but this time i did. i do remember 'nobodys flying school'. always entertaining. great period for aviating. keep em coming please.

 

ozzie

 

 

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