Early Flying Recollections

I soloed on my 16th birthday, November 3, 1944 and shortly after that the army started selling surplus trainers. A friend of mine who had been a primary instructor bought a surplus UC-78 (Cessna Bobcat) known as the bamboo bomber) in the spring of 1945 . I went with him to pick it up and while there, we found they were selling PT-23s for $100 each. He picked out a nice one and loaned me the money to buy it. I had perhaps 20 hours solo in a Piper Cub so he had me make a couple landings and I flew it home. I put about 40 hours on the PT-23 and flew it about fifty miles to the nearest designated pilot examiner on my 17th birthday to take my Private Pilot's flight test. He said we couldn't use my ship as there was no way for us to talk to one another in flight. I had to rent a Taylorcraft for the test which was the first airplane I ever flew with side by side seating and a wheel.

The man who owned most of the vacant lots in the small town where we lived was trying to sell lots in the area just east of our house and had graded streets on it so we started using one of them as a runway. It was only half a mile long but it was plenty for us. One day I had been out flying and when I returned, there was an airplane off one end of the runway and another just like it off the other end. Turns out it was two pilots delivering new Cub Cruisers from the plant to the dealer in Lubbock, Texas when they spotted a couple airplanes on the ground and a runway that ended a couple blocks from downtown. They decided to land there for lunch. One landed OK but the other one landed long and turned off and ground looped at the end of the runway, folding the gear on one side. They had lunch, called the dealer and both got in the remaining airplane to fly on to Lubbock. Only problem was they tried to take off downwind and when they ween't getting off, tried to turn off at the other end of the runway, folding one gear under.

I ran onto these photos in an old album.

Cessna UC-78
Cessna UC-78
PT-23

PT-23
Wrecked Cub Cruisers
Wrecked Cub Cruisers

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Copyright 2007 by Jim Foreman