leaning his big elbows on the counter in the
flight shack, picking at the grease under his
finger nails, telling anyone who'd listen about
his grand plans to build a newer and larger
flight office. Clyde coolly mentioned that he
and his father were in the retail furniture
business. "How about a trade?" Clyde asked,
which is how Ray ended up with a room full of
pricey new office furniture he couldn't other-
wise afford, and Clyde and his father got title
to a 1946 Aeronca Champ airplane, what most
non-flyers might consider a jalopy and what
aircraft buffs praise as a post-war classic.
single-engine, tandem two-seater and, unlike
the J-3 Cub, it could be soloed from the front
or the backseat.
largely inked) the poor thing looked flaky-
skinned and tired. Up close it reminded
Clyde of an oversized toy: metal tubing and
wooden formers and stringers all covered in
fabric. The wings were made of wood spars
and aluminum ribs, and it had a slim thirteen-
gallon fuel tank wedged in behind the instru-
Photo courtesy of Clyde Barker.