July 26, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin -
When I’m wandering around the North 40 my eye is always drawn to one of
my favorite planes: the venerable Cessna 150/152. I love hearing about the
hardy souls who fly this small trainer from some great distance to attend
Jay Shower and Ann
Pooch came to AirVenture 2009 from Gillespie Field in San Diego,
On Friday morning I came across a
particularly good-looking C-152, and as I was admiring it I realized there
was another next to it—and another and another next to them! Why it was
practically a whole row of 150s and 152s!
Turns out they were all part of a group
arrival by members of the 150/152 type club. Twenty-two of them flew in
Friday morning. They’re here together celebrating the 50th anniversary
of the little Cessna.
In this group, Ray Key has the honor of
flying the furthest to get here. He’s based at Flabob Airport near
Ray’s 152 is a 1980 model, and it’s in
terrific condition. He and his three fellow owners put in a new engine and
repainted it three years ago. The engine is larger than usual, a 125- hp
Sparrow Hawk conversion, which also includes a better prop.
The plane has 9,000 hours on the airframe
but only 300 on the new engine.
Ray does a lot of flying in this little
bird. He’s logged almost 200 of the new engine’s time. One trick he
has to find new places to fly is that he’s gradually visiting every
airport on the LA sectional.
“I took all the airports on it that have
a hard surface and are nonmilitary,” Ray explained. “There’s roughly
98 of them. And I’ve visited over half of them now.” He plans to
complete all of them eventually.
Although Ray is a relatively new pilot—he
got his ticket just two years ago—he does a lot of flying. “I’m
flying over 150 hours per year.”
In addition to the 152 he’s also a
half-owner of a Christen Eagle. So he’s learning aerobatics. Ray flew
the C-152 here from Flabob in 22 flying hours covering 1,700 miles.
Another EAA member who came to AirVenture
this year from California is 72-year-old Jay Shower and his fiancé, Ann
Jay has been coming to the fly-in for 15
Jay has had an amazing life in aviation. He
got his first flight in 1949 when his dad smuggled him onto the military
aircraft that he was flying. In 1954 Jay soloed before entering the Navy
for a career as a naval aviator.
“I flew off carriers for 16 years,” Jay
related. “I was 26 years in the Navy, so I’ve got a lot of jet time, a
lot of carrier time.”
His favorite military planes were the A-4—“a
Tinkertoy,” he called it— and “the most prestigious jet [I flew] was
the RA-5C Vigilante.” “That plane would fly Mach 2.5. The book says
2.3, but it would go 2.5 Mach.”
After retiring from the Navy in 1983 Ray
has continued to be a very active pilot. He’s had the V-tail Bonanza
that he and Ann flew to AirVenture since 1984. And he’s literally flown
it all over the world.
“I put the tip tanks on in 1990 and flew
it to Europe,” Ray said. Their route took them via Gander, Newfoundland,
and over to Greenland, on to Iceland, and then to Scotland. “I ferry
airplanes across now, all the time. Ann and I went two years ago in a
Silver Eagle, which is a TP210.”
This is Jay and Ann’s fifth year coming
together to the fly-in. Last year, in their North 40 tent, Jay brought out
a ring and proposed to Ann. Lots of nice things happen at AirVenture.