Jennifer Peña (Texas)

Jennifer Peña is based at 3TE8, C Fulcher Ranch Airport, Terlingua/Alpine, Texas.

A rare opportunity, I am flying with my instructor in his open cockpit Pietenpol

I’m a 45 year old schoolmarm in Terlingua, Texas. I have always had a fascination with flying and knew that someday I wanted to become a pilot. Before moving to west Texas it seemed there was never enough time or money to tackle my dream. Over dinner one evening about 3 years ago, I told my pilot friend that he needed to get his CFI certification so he could teach me to fly. Much to my surprise he informed me that he already WAS a CFI, and we needed to get started.

My instructor cuts my shirttail after I solo in his Luscombe

So it began and ended up being a two year process as I had time and money to fly. My first 20 hours were in a 1947 Luscombe 8A. I struggled and struggled with landings. When I went to take my written test, the airport manager asked what I was flying and seemed impressed when I told him. He informed me that taildraggers were harder to land. All that time, I just thought I was a slow learner.

The Pietenpol with the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park in the background gives an idea of the area I fly in. I’m the luckiest girl!

I am currently part owner of a Cessna 172, but my heart still belongs to the Luscombe (even though it belongs to another). What a beauty! I have been lucky enough to fly several other taildraggers including a Piper Cub and an open cockpit Pietenpol belonging to my instructor friend.

My first lesson was in the Piper Cub

The majority of my training took place out of a little one way dirt strip in the mountainous Big Bend Country of Texas. As I got close to finishing up my training, my instructor referred me to Jean O’Cuilinn, a CFI in a nearby town, who helped me polish up my maneuvers for my check ride. Jean and I have become good friends and I am going to get a chance to fly with her in her awesome Super Decathlon soon (And will be coming to the Savannah, Tennessee LLT Fly-In in it). I have met so many interesting people and had so much fun with flying. I still can’t believe how everything fell into place, especially since I live in such a small town.

See you in June,
Jen Peña
4 Comments
  • Jennifer Pena
    Posted at 17:21h, 11 April Reply

    I feel I should go back and give a shout out to my original instructor who was referenced, but not named in my profile. Alex Whitmore, husband of LLT member Marti Whitmore, and “My Secret Canyon” videographer/pilot/music composer and performer/video editor extraordinaire has and continues to be the biggest supporter of my flying endeavors. He is responsible for getting my to where I am today. He is always there to give a little push or a big shove whenever I need a kick in the pants. I love the Whitmores like family. I’m hoping that Marti will fly her Cub to the LLT fly-in in Tennessee.

  • Jennifer Pena
    Posted at 14:07h, 11 April Reply

    I’ll share this information with my friend Jean. The places you mentioned sound fun and interesting. I have been to Fort Stockton as it was one leg of my long solo cross country before my check-ride last year. I didn’t get a chance to visit the truck stop, but will definitely make it a point to next time I’m there. Not sure about the tuna flavored mayo sandwiches though.

    Looking forward to meeting you in Tennessee!

    • Sharon Tinkler
      Posted at 17:21h, 15 April Reply

      LAUGHING. Yes, sandwiches not so much… but the weather stations out there in the middle of nowhere for truck drivers? Sobering 🙂

  • Sharon Tinkler
    Posted at 06:26h, 11 April Reply

    Hey Jen!

    I look forward to meeting you at Savannah! My luscombe’s O 320 is getting overhauled right now and is supposed to be back up and running by the end of May. Fingers crossed.

    This cross country that you are planning will be the time of your life! Look down and tell me when you see the first tree in Texas that doesn’t look like it’s been planted recently by settlers 🙂 The first one I saw, I think, flying west across texas was in Sonora but I’m not sure. If your travels take you near Kittie Hill airport in the Austin/RoundRock area – stop in and see Cynthia Grant. 3 dirt runways – what’s not to like 🙂 Key Brothers field in Meridian, MS, is fascinating for its history. Beautiful old hangar – the Key Bros set an endurance record in the Alexander Eagle Rock, orbiting the field for 30 days back in the 30’s some time. Shreveport Downtown airport is laid out just like it was in the 40’s – big round grass field… except now it has concrete runways – but you can see the old hangars on that round perimeter. Fort Stockton has a truck stop diner you can get to in the courtesy car. They serve tuna flavored mayonnaise sandwiches and each booth has a weather radio for the truckers. It will give you pause to think about TRUCKERS needing weather that badly out there. Monroe (LA) Regional is the home of Delta Dusters, percursor to Delta Airlines. Museum on the field.

    Okay, morning coffee done – that’s probably more travel log info that you wanted 🙂 See you in June!

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