1944 DeHaviland Tiger Moth
This aircraft was a pretty basic flying machine. Formerly a WWII RAF trainer. No brakes! The tail SKID was the brake. The airspeed indicator is mounted on the left front wing strut and is visible in the picture. The compass was a horizontal instrument that you looked down on. The communication between cockpits was via gosport tubes. Similar to Pre-WWII era ships. Of course there was no starter or electrical system. Very docile and lazy aerobatic airplane. Too much fun to fly. This was the first airplane that both of my children flew in. I believe they were 1 and 2 at the time.
LONG LONG AGO
The picture below was taken of me and my second airplane.
This was taken near El Dorado, Kansas in 1976.
BUYING THE TIGER MOTH STORY
Kansas to New Jersey and back to Kansas with my mother.
I was living in El Dorado, Kansas, where I grew up. I called my mom one day in 1976 and told her that I was trading my Luscombe for a De Havilland Tiger Moth, open cockpit biplane. I also told Mother, that since my daughter had just been born and was being breast fed, my wife could not go with me to New Jersey. I ask my mom if she would like to go, since it would be our last chance to fly together in the Luscombe. I also told Mother that I could send her home from New Jersey on an airline or bus or train. She said she would call my dad and see what he thought.
Mother called back about 10 minutes later and said; "I would love to go, but do not want to come home on an airline! I want to come home with you!" I explained; â€śMother, this is an open cockpit airplane, it will be hot, dirty, noisy, uncomfortable, hard to get in and out of, etc. etc. etc." She said; I don't care I am coming home with you! Period!" I said "OK, we can try it."
It took four days to get to New Jersey, partly due to weather. We spent two days stuck in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where we, by chance, met Arnold Palmer at the airport. Latrobe was his home town.
After the weather relented we continued on to New Jersey, where I made the trade. I flew a couple of laps around the pattern in the Tiger Moth with the former owner. I remember that his name was Jim and he was an Airline Captain. I believe he flew from Newark to Paris one week then Newark to London the next week. Once I felt comfortable with the Moth we landed and I loaded my mother into the front cockpit, which was no easy chore. She was a bit overweight and had arthritis in her hips and hands. Getting in was honestly painful for her. After I got her in she decided to stay in the airplane until that evening. Each day it was the same routine. It took 20 or so minutes to get her into the front cockpit and she stayed there until we stopped for the evening.
The Moth had a gosport tube for speaking to each other. It had no brakes, only a tail skid to put pressure on to stop. I had to find grass fields all the way home to stop and get fuel. When we stopped at one airport an older man came out to assist with the fuel. He said it was a nice airplane. I told him that I had just bought it and we were on our way to Kansas. When he saw my mother take off her helmet and goggles he said: â€śGood God, did she come with the airplane?â€ť We all laughed.
I remember somewhere in Ohio I saw a train and dropped down next to it and waved at the engineer and his assistant. They were both enthusiastically waving back. We were just a bit faster than the train, cruising at about 80 mph. It took us three days to get home.
The final fuel stop on the trip was Pittsburg, Kansas. It was on the way and it was the town where my mother had grown up. I called my dad and told him we would be home in about an hour and a half. What I didnâ€t know was that my sister had called the local radio station when we left on our trip. She had told them what we were doing. She had also called the local newspaper and told them. Both the radio station and the newspaper were running ongoing reports of our progress. We did not know that, when we left Pittsburg, the radio station was announcing our pending arrival in El Dorado! When we got to the airport there were hundreds of cars there, and hundreds of people. I flew over the field wondering what was going on at the airport?
We landed on a cross grass runway. The Moth was a bit difficult to taxi since it had no brakes. The only steering was the steer able tail skid. As we got close to the office and fuel pumps hundreds of people came across the grass to greet us. I had no choice but to shut the airplane off right there, maybe 50 yards from the fuel pumps. A reporter from the El Dorado Times came running out to the airplane just as my mother took off her helmet and got a wonderful picture of her, which ran on the front page of the paper the next day. It was the adventure of a lifetime for my mother and for me!
The following is a thumbnail gallery. Click on any picture for a slide show.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.......” Ralph Waldo Emerson