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Renewing a long, lost friendship

Anonymous • Sep 14, 2013 at 12:20 PM

It was a spectacular view of my old stomping grounds: Gem Beach, Mouse Island and Catawba Cliffs.

Don’t tell my parents, but as a kid I jumped off those cliffs.

On Thursday, the “Tin Goose” and I renewed a long-lost friendship.

I grew up on Catawba Island as a child, with the “Tin Goose” flying over my house every day. This beautiful lady was my constant companion during my childhood years. The quiet rumble in the distance and then the roar overhead etched a permanent memory in my mind.    The Ford Tri-Motor, commonly referred to as the “Tin Goose,” was built for the commercial aircraft industry in the 1920s. Henry Ford built 199 of these airplanes. Today, there are only seven still in operation.

Thursday’s flight was under the watchful eyes of pilots Jody Braush and Tom Leahy.

As I boarded the “Tin Goose,” my thoughts went back to my childhood. As kids we thought she was the safest plane on earth. There were three engines, and most planes had one. She was as big as a boat, so if she went down in the lake she would float.

Braush confirmed that my childhood thoughts were correct.

Upon entering the cabin, the interior was at best described as lacking in comfort. It was not a necessity in the early years of aviation.

As I got situated, the pilots went through the preflight checklist. Then, one at a time, the three engines were fired up and we were approved for flight. We taxied out to the runway, the engines were brought up to full power and we were away to the islands.

After a quick circling of Middle and South Bass islands, we headed home. The touchdown was flawless and we taxied back to the hangar.

As I exited the plane and looked back at this grand old lady of the islands, I gave her a farewell wave and a thank you for one last dance.

Jake Schueler, 59, of Huron Township, was the winner of the Register’s write-in contest this week to win a flight aboard the Ford Tri-Motor. 

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