Friday, April 24, 2009

Fun with aircraft

Today Miss D. and I journeyed out to the Alamo Liaison Squadron at Cannon Field, South of San Antonio. We had a great time.

Piper L-3 Cub under repair

The ALS operates over half-a-dozen World War II-vintage liaison aircraft, and is rebuilding others. Some of its members own their own planes as well. The aircraft are in an amazingly good state of preservation, particularly considering (as ALS members point out) that when they were built, they weren't expected to survive long enough under combat conditions to need a 100-hour checkup! That says a lot for the pilots who flew them.

Hatz biplane taxiing past a Taylorcraft L-2 Grasshopper (blue, in hangar)

Being a pilot, Miss D. spent most of the time talking with the owners and pilots. I rapidly learned that when pilots get together, they 'talk shop' even more than do firearms enthusiasts! She also got to fly in a Stinson L5 liaison aircraft, designed for the purpose (rather than adapted from a civilian design, such as the Piper J-3 Cub becoming the Piper L-4 Grasshopper in military guise, or the Taylorcraft BL12-65 being transformed into the Taylorcraft L-2 Grasshopper). With a 6-cylinder engine, the Stinson L-5 was rather more powerful than the other liaison aircraft at the airfield. Miss D. commented she could feel the difference, and would treat it with respect as a pilot.

Stinson L-5 Grasshopper

We'll be going out there again tomorrow morning, to attend the ALS Open Day. If any of my readers are in the San Antonio area, you can find details of the open day here. Come on out and join us - it promises to be a lot of fun! I saw one gentleman making up flour bombs for the bombing competition, and another informed me that no-one's ever actually hit the target! Last year someone was pretty good, but was allegedly disqualified because he deliberately bombed the control tower. Sounds like a good time was had by all concerned!

The ALS HQ, Cannon Field, snapped by Miss D. from the Stinson L-5.
Yours truly may be seen at the bottom of the picture, standing below the hangars.

I'll try to post more later tonight or tomorrow morning. Right now, I have to take Miss D. out to supper. Given all the great restaurants around here, that should be no burden at all!



Sherm said...

Hughes Rudd (one time CBS newsman) wrote an article in American Heritage Magazine about flying one of these as an artillery spotter in Europe in WWII. The most telling comment was the fact that the government spent more on the crate used to ship the plane then they did on the plane itself.

Anonymous said...

Propellors and piston engines, the way it should be :)


Anonymous said...

Glad ya'll enjoyed the day. We had fun meeting you. ;-)

Alamo Liaison Squadron

homebru said...

I think that someone was pulling your leg about the aircraft in the first picture.

Described as "Piper L-3 Cub under repair", it ain't.

The L-3 was made by Aeronca. Piper made the J-3/L-4. The aircraft in the photo (N61080) is registered by the FAA as a 1953 Taylorcraft DC-65.

Cute bird and I'd love to fly one sometime, but it isn't a Piper or an L-3.

Old NFO said...

Good pics, and I hope y'all have a good time!

phlegmfatale said...

Looks like a grand occasion. I really wish we could have made it down there. Fingers crossed for next time. :)

On a Wing and a Whim said...


Good catch! I'm afraid he was sorting through 200-odd pictures, mostly close-ups of parts, not in order, and my only "help" was mumbling sleepily over at him while trying not to pass out on my laptop's keyboard.

Looking through, the data plates list it as an L2-M, mfd 1943, converted to civilian DC-65 on 7/1/1953.

And I have more parts and pictures of its welds, pulleys, gascolator, strut attach fittings, aileron attach fittings, etc. than his brain could stand looking at.