Now I was allowed to risk the airplane and my own neck in solo flight, but the law required I have 33 more hours, alternating with and without the instructor, until I could take up passengers and risk their necks. I was taught new skills, like landing in cross winds and high winds, and flights to other states. I was also taught how to recover from tailspins, which after years of controversy is no longer taught to new pilots. I was taught "pilotage", the deceptively difficult skill of navigating by comparing a map with the view outside the windows, necessary because many planes lacked radios and GPS hadn't been invented. Twenty years later, in 1970, I first flew a plane with a radio, and thirty years after that, in 2000, I first used a GPS.
That Cessna, like most of the planes I've flown since, was a "taildragger", meaning the third wheel to support the plane on the ground is at its tail. The great majority of modern small planes have the third wheel under the nose of the plane, making it much easier and safer to land at most airports, but very difficult to land on very rough or soggy fields. So most Alaskan "bush" planes are taildraggers.
A mere 2 1/2 flying hours after I made that first solo, in the 2-seat Cessna 140, Monroe Smith, my father-in-law at the time, let me solo his nearly new Cessna 170A, registered as NC9115A, which had 4 seats and more horsepower. The previous link shows the small differences between the 170, the 170A and the 170B.
Monroe was an intrepid risk taker, as allowing a very inexperienced pilot to fly his nearly new airplane costing the price of 5 new Fords would indicate. He crashed it that year on a very tight Northfield pasture on which I landed successfully 31 years later in another Cessna 170A.
|Roger Atwood took these photos of Monroe's 1950 crash & gave them to me in 2001|