fuel gauge as the Ford Model A. Way back in
1944, when the Champ first hit the market, it
sold for a paltry $2,095. By 1972 it was hard to
tell what the twenty-six-year-old aircraft with
its dimpled engine cowling and nicked struts
was worth. Coming from the honorable and
notoriously scrupulous airframe and power-
plant mechanic, Ray Harding, Clyde consid-
ered the trade fair and equitable. To seal the
deal, Ray agreed to give the Champ a fresh
coat of white paint, and that was that.
a Sunday afternoon after a fly-in and one of
Mary's fried chicken dinners, and after Clyde
and his wife Pat and a couple of dozen other pi-
lots readied themselves to call it a day, he'd see
a lone couple far out on the runway, Ray and
Mary, taking in the cool night air, walking hand-
in-hand like a couple of smitten teenagers.
the Austin Parachute Center, which rented
a hangar from Ray on the airport grounds.
Photo courtesy of Clyde Barker.