Autumn is Up in the Air

Piper Cub at Sackman Field

Autumn brings about many beautiful things, one of which, not all may associate with the season, is a gaggle of vintage aircraft gathered at a small airport.

Recently, on a gorgeous October morning full of sun and bright blue skies devoid of clouds, I attended the Columbia Aero Club open house at Sackman Field (H49) in Columbia, IL.

About 30 to 40 planes from around the St. Louis region attended the event, which also featured classic cars and motorcycles, a food truck, music and plenty of conversation. While there I ran into my certified flight instructor, Tammy and a few others from the airport in Greenville. I was able to reconnect with some passionate pilots I haven’t seen in a few months and that felt good.

Though, it was hard to gauge precisely how many people were there, it was easily 150 to 200. A good turnout as many local airports hold their annual fly-in this time of year. These are the type of general aviation events you find throughout the country bringing pilots and non-pilots, young and old together in a community for a fun gathering to share their love of flying.

I brought my young daughter along to expose her to the vintage airplanes collected and have a look around at one of the few airports in the St. Louis area that has stuck to the roots of general aviation. She has enjoyed our trips to local airports like KCPS (Cahokia) and KGRE (Greenville) before and I thought this would be another opportunity to expand her horizons on the world of aviation. She enjoyed looking at the different planes and picked out her favorites and we took pictures. Her curious mind asked several questions, many of which I was able to answer.

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Reawakening my five senses in relation to airplanes

Now that I have spent a few hours to try to re-acclimate myself to flying a general aviation aircraft, I’ve noticed that my aviation senses have begun to reawaken. I seem to pick up on little things again. Things I haven’t seen or felt in over 20 years.

The beautiful Model 35 V-tail Beechcraft Bonanza
The beautiful Model 35 V-tail Beechcraft Bonanza

Let’s take the sense of sight first. While I’ve not done any research studies on this, for me personally I seem to notice something new to my life through sight first. Whether it be a pretty landscape, a cool motorcycle or an attractive woman, my eyes are the first ones on the scene. Regarding aviation, I began looking at a lot of pictures of vintage general aviation aircraft again via the internet. Many people, even non-pilots, can pick certain aircraft out of the bunch – a Cessna 172, a Piper J-3 Cub or a Model 35 V-tail Beechcraft Bonanza are a few famous general aviation designs. At the airport you don’t see too many airplanes sitting outside, especially in the Midwest during the winter months, so it’s hard to see too many in person. Therefore, I searched airplanes for sale on Trade-A-Plane or Barnstormers. This stirred the knowledge I already had accumulated about general aviation aircraft. By reading the ads, I could further add to my knowledge of terms I needed to know and get a read on the used aircraft market at the same time. A win-win for sure!

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