Jasper's Aircraft 1
Aeronca Chief 11AC, 1946
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Aeronca Chief

This is a 1946 Aeronca Chief, a classic US post-war design of strut-braced high wing, tube fuselage and wooden spars with pressed aluminium ribs. I bought her in 1989, when I was flush with cash after a busy patch. I had less than seventy hours at the time, all on spam-cans so she was quite a learning curve, but one that has stood me well; almost all of my flying since then has been with taildraggers off grass strips.

She wasn't much of a performer as she was heavy, had a large wing and only 65HP, but got me around. The five hour range helped me travel far and wide, but never quickly, and usually on my own, as flying at gross was even slower, and needed a long take off. A headwind could erode the cruise to a speed so low that cars passed me on the M4. (I used to joke that bird-strikes were on the trailing edge as they bumped their heads overtaking me)

No electrics to speak of, so it was a hand-start, as many of my planes have been since then. Hand-swinging isn't the big deal it sounds, and my current planes are both hand-swingers. Saves maintenance and complexity, and as long as you stick to the same regime for safety, nothing to worry about. Instils respect, perhaps, and rather satisfying in a 'Golden Era' kind of way. My Aeronca still had all her original instruments, including an altimeter calibrated in inches of mercury. I thought it was a pain in the bum at the time, but I've gone high and low looking for just this instrument to rebuild the Rearwin's panel twenty years later.

I sold the Aeronca eighteen months later when work was less than abundant, which was a great shame. If I could have afforded to keep her, I'd probably still be flying her today. And she is still flying today, only with wheel-fairings.