It’s been said everyone has a story. It’s also been said that everyone has a dream. My story has its beginning in the 1930s when my grandfather took his first plane ride in a 40-horse Cub. Lessons in the Cub followed, leading my grandfather, together with several friends, to form the Haleyville, Ala. Aero Club.
When Papa John Lakeman earned his pilot’s license, my father was his first passenger, starting a family tradition that includes a love of flying and a devotion to the Piper Cub.
In fact there have been four Cubs in our family. My own introduction to flying was in a Super J-3 that has a story of its own, but I will leave that for another day.
Operating from the 1,800-foot sod strip on our family farm, with my father as teacher, was a good beginning. I was thankful that the strip had been lengthened from its former 1,200 feet.
When I finally got to make a landing at the Haleyville Airport I was amazed at how long that 3,400-foot runway looked—plus, it had no cows on it!
In his zeal to make me “safe” before he turned me over to a CFI, my father became a Marine D. I., insisting that I do 50 stalls before I ever attempted the first takeoff. With no intercom, my father shouting instructions, we flew through stalls, spins, and turns around a point.
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