Fall color tour over New Jersey, a Champ Story
by Tony Buttacavoi
It was 0800 and 38 degrees F, light winds, and CAVU skies as I preflighted N83559, a slightly ragged but good hearted 1946 7AC based at SMQ, Somerset, NJ. It was one of those wonderful Sundays when you get up early, throw on some clothes and head out to the airstrip right at sunrise. That first cup of FBO coffee goes down so well and you carry the second one with you while you inspect your ship of the morning . You wince at the faded and peeling paint, smile at the compact and faithful A65, lovingly touch, pull, and poke, at her parts then strap in. The lineman pulls your prop through, finally with a particularly good flip she comes to life, and in short order after all the obligatory checks are complete you are churning aloft, window open, engines song igniting one within your own heart, as you guide her gently, stick in the right hand, left one guarding the throttle, a little right rudder to keep the ball in its traces. What a view !
The sky a heavenly cobalt blue, stretches from the horizon upward to infinity, to the east 30 miles away etched in stark relief is the entire NYC skyline from the Bronx to the Bowery in all its Art Deco glory and beyond that visible even from our less than lofty perch is the shining sea Atlantic, dazzling in the pure light of the 8 a.m. sun. To the north and west are the rolling Appalachian foothills extending to NY, and PA, and ablaze this morning in a neon riot of yellow, golds, reds, and russets. Oh God, this is so beautiful, to fly this little yellow butterfly of an airplane, to feel the lift on the wings through the stick, to see nature showing its best, and to feel a part of it, window open, cold breeze on my cheek, the A65 blatting along, as we follow this valley to that ridge line, and look, a hawk ! Only the steady descent of the fuel float necessitates our return, the kiss of turf on tires a lovely punctuation to a truly beautiful flight, I love this airplane!!! We tailwheel, grass strip pilots are truly blessed !!!
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