Selling an Old Friend

Bud Klingman arrived in the Bay Area from Georgia to purchase my Cessna 170(325DE) on a Thursday near the end of April during one of the rainiest years in California history!  We managed a test flight between storms, and Bud agreed that the  Franklin 165 engine is a perfect combination for the Cessna 170. In fact this engine was originally installed on a Cessna 170 owned by Bob Moser who now lives in Georgia. An hour was required to become used to all the “strange noises” of a new airplane with this unique engine combination.  Friday the rains were pouring down again and it was a challenge to fit a few takeoff’s and landings into the wind and weather  We were lucky to find a hanger for a pre-purchase inspection.  It seemed Bud had plans for all those little “squawks”. They could always be blamed on the previous owner, Hugh Grady, or Bob Moser!

Of course sellers remorse began setting in after cleaning out all the accumulated airplane parts from my garage and meeting Bud at the Palo Alto airport to load DE for his return trip to Georgia. I had agreed to accompany Bud as far a Texas, and had hoped to stop the first night in Phoenix for dinner with Hugh Grady from whom I had purchased 325DE almost 10 years ago. After returning from depositing my check in the bank on Saturday afternoon, the rest of the story is pure timing:

Since Bud had relatives in the Bay area and the winds were still  gusty with light rain over most of CA, we decided to leave for AZ on Sunday. We fueled up Sunday morning and headed South for Lancaster, CA. About 2 hours from Palo Alto, the low clouds began to disappear and we had a smooth ride to the Tehachepi’s and a fuel stop at Fox Field. We refiled our flight plan to Glendale, AZ and with the Sun behind us had a spectacular 3 hour flight across the Mojave desert and the Colorado River into Glendale. My parents lived in Arizona and joined Hugh, Bud and me for a nostalgic dinner with a lot of flying stories. My Father was a pilot and had actually owned an interest in a Cessna 170 about forty years ago!

Our plans for an early flight to Texas on Monday were dashed with a little extra sleep and a hearty home cooked breakfast by my Mom. We did depart about noon with a full aux. tank after repairing some headset problems. By now the sun was in the Southwest and we were headed East Northeast with a handheld GPS, loran, VOR, ADF, and two flight instructors navigating along the Mexican border to El Paso, TX. The original tailwind had turned into a headwind. The Franklin was running like a watch, but with some leaking oil from the breather tube we decided on 3 hour legs. After a practice “crash &  go”, we left El Paso about 3PM(4PM TX time). The groundspeed was reading about 80 knots as we flew for miles with nothing but sand washed gravel roads. We then realized the size of Texas and the bleakness of West Texas. After 3 hours of flying, we decided to retreat to Ft. Stockton and fly another day into Austin. After spending 10 years outdoors at Palo Alto, 325DE must have had taste of her future when we put her into one of the vast WWII hangers at Ft. Stockton that evening with a bright red sun setting in the West Red sky at night – Sailors(& pilot’s)delight.

The air was fresh and clear as we did get an early start Tuesday morning(not a lot of night life in Ft. Stockton). We didn’t mind the sun in our eyes for an hour as Texas gradually turned from the dry flat brown desert into the lush green rolling hill country of Austin.  Our tailwind was back, the air was smooth, and the countryside beautiful as I flew the last hour and I made a landing in DE at Lake Travis just outside Austin about noon. As we said goodbye’s, another pilot was departing for the main airport in Austin and I caught a ride before DE’s departure. However, I have it on good authority that between the Aux. tanks and the tailwinds, DE was in a hanger in Georgia with only one fuel stop. The Franklin 165 was only a hour or so from Bob Moser(your work can follow you anywhere).  A few days later the tornados hit central Texas!

CC: DE Passengers