All. Day. Long.

Tupper 891

I am not a spectacular pilot.  I have no natural skills.  Every move I have is a result of cookbook learning and repetition.  Which is why I think that yesterday will stick with me for awhile.

As is my habit each year, I was checking out on N94891, the 1981 C-152 II in which I first soloed back in 2001.  It lives at Solo Aviation at KARB.

Having flown all of the high airwork, the IP and I were back at KARB to round out the ride in the pattern.  Downwind abeam the number for Runway 6, she pulls my power, tells me to pitch for best glide, and land power-off.  I zoom-climb to 60 KIAS, then look back at the numbers to guestimate the turn.

891 has great slip capabilities.  You can turn her sideways and just come down like an elevator if you like.  And there was no reason to hang her out on downwind and risk coming up short. So I put the outside rudder to the floor, gave her aileron into the turn, and sweeping around, dropping out of the sky at a rapid but orderly rate and dropping flaps as required.  Watching the airspeed carefully, 891 came around the corner from 1,000 AGL and 180 degrees and arrived on slope and on speed right before the jumpers just as the flaps hit the stops.

A little before I let off the slip inputs and set up to land, the IP looked at the runway and the airspeed indicator and said: “All. Day. Long.”

I remain absolutely tickled by that.  Like I said, I’m not a brilliant pilot.  I have no inborn skills.  And that’s why I get such a charge out of responding to a challenge like that and nailing it, even in the opinion of an IP who spends a lot of time in that aircraft.

“All.  Day.  Long.”



You Can Go Back – Part 2

This is a regular blog post. Looking for show notes or show audio? You can find it in the other posts.

I wrote some time ago about stopping by the Water Street Coffee Joint in October and finding it essentially as it was in 1993 as I studied for the LSAT. I had a similar, but more intimate experience yesterday.

I had heard that the 1983 Cessna 152 II, N94891 (in which I did a lot of my early pre-solo and solo primary training in 2001), had moved from Willow Run Airport (KYIP) to Ann Arbor Municipal Airport (KARB), but had not seen her on the field except for a fleeting glimpse in 2003 or so. So, when I arrived early for Paul Stambaugh’s hangar party yesterday, I asked around to see if anyone knew where I might find her. Turns out that she’s around, well-maintained, and working for Solo Aviation, located at the terminal building.

The gentlemen at Solo were kind enough to actually hand me the keys and tell me that I could go and see her. How cool are they? I went down to Bravo row, opened the padlock, rolled back the doors, and there she was! Boy, does she look good. They’ve been taking right proper care of her. “Hi, girl! Remember me?”

“Hey, Tup! You lose a little weight? What brings you back to this neck of the woods?” she said.

“Paul’s party. And it was a great excuse to come look for you,” I told her.

“And who are the little ones?”

I introduced the kids to 891. Cole was gestating the last time I flew 891. Ella wasn’t even in the plans.

The kids are used to C-172s or bigger airplanes, and Cole’s first remark was “Hey! There’s no back seat!” True enough. This is a bare-essentials no-nonsense pilotmaker. She’s IFR certified, but only has VOR navigation and ILS capability. I never flew her under the hood, but a lot of my acquaintances built hood time in her, plugging along at 90 KIAS.

For me, she went charging down runway 5L at Willow Run, rotated, and carried me around the pattern for my first solo and several subsequent flights. A wonderful trainer and one of my all-time favorite aircraft.

Cole and Ella were very deferential – even a little reverent – when I told them that 891 was the first airplane that I had ever soloed. They really treated her with respect and even stood still over in the corner while I got into the left seat and reminisced a little. Then Cole ran over and played line marshal and cleared me to take off – No doubt to scout the Hun lines and report back to this site of the trenches or maybe to look for wildfires or something like that.

I love this airplane and am delighted to see that she’s still on the line and making pilots out of pedestrians. I need to get over to Ann Arbor again soon and take her up. It’d be fun.

Good to see you, 891. I’m still out here trying to make you proud!

(Don’t tell her about the F-16 thing. I think she’d take it the right way, but there’s no use rocking the boat.)

See 891 and the astonishingly friendly and helpful people at Solo Aviation in the terminal building at Ann Arbor Municipal Airport. (Seriously, how cool are you guys? I really, really appreciated that. I’ll be talking you up to anyone who will listen.)

Solo Aviation, Inc.
801 Airport Drive
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108
Phone: 734-994-6651
Fax: 734-994-6671

Paul Stambaugh’s Hangar Party 2008

This is a regular blog post. Looking for show notes or show audio? You can find it in the other posts.

Went to Paul Stambaugh’s Fly ‘Em If You Got ‘Em hangar party this afternoon at Ann Arbor (KARB) with Cole and Ella. The whole airport community shows up each year for barbeque and some bring airplanes. There’s usually at least a Stearman and several others and Paul likes to fly his Pitts for the gathering.

A shot of the crowd. It’s usually a little more spread out, but it rained on and off throughout the afternoon and everybody pretty much kept to the hangar itself. Made for a more intimate setting with lots of folks in close proximity.

Cole and Ella found a spot next to Steve’s biplane and grazed on the goodies all afternoon. The food was unusually good this year and someone bade perhaps the best baked beans I’ve ever eaten. Paul had lots of pork, hanburgers, and hot dogs on the roaster and the pulled pork was outstanding.

Before too long, Paul filled up the smoke oil tank on the Pitts and taxied out fo give us a demo. A high-performance take-off to an inverted downwind, then three passes, including a this high-speed pass.

The Stearman showed up just as we were leaving, but I managed to run back to the runway and grab this shot of it just as it was landing. It’s a beautiful aircraft and I wish that we had had more time to go look at it up close. But it was raining pretty well and I already had the kids in the car.

Many thanks to Paul and Steve for throwing this party every year. It’s nice to get back to Ann Arbor every now and then.

If you’re a non-pilot or just beginning and have yet to really feel at home at your airport, find a way to get invited to a hangar party or two. It’s the single best way to network and meet new friends on the field!

Paul Stambaugh’s Hangar Party at KARB

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for the current show notes, please check the entries below this one.

Nothing quite like a hangar party on a nearly perfect September day! Paul Stambaugh (whom you’ll remember from the Airspeed episode “Lunch with Aerobatic Pilot Paul Stambaugh” (listen at and another hangar renter at Ann Arbor Municipal Airport (KARB) again hosted their “Fly “em If You Got ‘Em” hangar party on September 15. I took Cole and Ella to the last one two years ago and brought them again this time.

Paul got out his Pitts “Psycho Therapy” and, together with another gentleman who brough along a WWII Navy trainer named California Girl (the designation of which escapes me – If you recognize it, please e-mail me at, treated us to a couple of cool passes. The hangar is located at the departure end of Runway 24 (3,500′ x 75′ asphalt) so we could see departures and arrivals at the end of the hangar row. Last time, Runway 6 was active so we saw climbouts.

This shot is of Paul’s high-speed pass.

Here’s California Girl during one of two formation passes that the two aircraft did. She led the formation.

The first of two shots of one of the formation passes. Although Paul in the Pitts was well behind California Girl and there’s some forced perspective here, the size difference is reasonably well portrayed.

My favorite shot ot the day. This was just after the previous picture when Paul in the Pitts had just settled into train with California Girl. Nice clouds and the lighting from in front of the aircraft here really worked well.