Grandad started flying lessons when he was 16 and soloed on his 17th birthday in a Taylor E2 Cub that was built in 1937. All 40 throbbing horsepower made this predecessor to the Piper Cub J3 fly like a low powered kite.

With only one person in it, it would start flying at about 30 miles an hour, climb speed was 45 miles an hour and normal cruise speed 55 to 60 miles an hour.

Now that I had a student pilot's license I used to fly one of my friend's Aeronca C3's on floats during my summer vacations at Chautauqua Lake, New York. This truly was the ultimate KITE with only a 36 horsepower two cylinder engine. On floats, one person was the maximum. You had to manually grease the engine's rocker arms with a grease gun before each flight. If the wind was below ten miles an hour it would not get up on the floats' step and eventually fly.

Takeoff speed was about 35 miles an hour and climb speed about 45 miles an hour with floats. Cruising speed was a ridiculous 55 miles per hour. I once flew this Minnie Mouse two cylinder aircraft from Chautauqua Lake to Erie, Pennsylvania and landed at the Erie seaplane base in Erie Harbor. Although Erie was only about 50 miles distant the round trip took two hours as climbing over the hills around the lake at 50 to 100 feet per minute was truly very slow. The hills around Chautauqua Lake are about 1000 feet higher than Lake Erie. Climbing over them enroute to Erie was no problem as it was mostly downhill, but climbing up over them returning to Chautaqua Lake was painfully slow.

The little map below was a fun project many years ago. It shows WAHMEDA next to the Chautauqua Institution where our former home was located. Just to the left of Wahmeda is Camp Merz, the Boy Scout Camp that my grandfather Merz built and donated to the Boy Scouts. Both of my sons attended their great grandfather's camp long ago. Chautauqua County is a special place for me as my ancestors from New England moved there not very long after the Revolutionary War in the early 1800s. They had been soldiers under George Washington's command during the Revolutionary War.

The above map shows the little 36 horsepower Aeronca C-3 aircraft climbing to get over the hills enroute to Erie, Pennsylvania. It illustrates MOST of Chautauqua County, New York. It is the southwestern most New York State County bordering on Lake Erie, one of the United States' great lakes. The state of Pennsylvania borders Chautauqua County to the south and the state of Ohio is 60 miles to the west of Chautauqua County.

Select NEXT CHAPTER to see my next step up the aircraft performance ladder.

Got my Private Pilot's license