|Lee Allen with his 1985 Maule, which was wrecked in a 2009 off-field landing.
PHOTO BY JACK HODGSON
|Quinlan and Jim Schudrowitz with their 1958 Cessna 172 Ol' Blue.
PHOTO BY JACK HODGSON
It’s a sunny and warm Friday before the start of AirVenture Oshkosh 2011, and though the official opening is two days off we see the usual stream of early arrivers setting up camp.
In row two of the North 40 6-year-old Quinlan Schudrowitz crawls around the 1958 Cessna 172 as grandfather Jim looks on.
Jim Schudrowitz started coming to the Oshkosh fly-in in 1973 after attending a few in Rockford.
His memories of the fly-ins are about sounds—he remembers the various engines and models in the sky.
“The distinctive difference between them, whether it was a T-6 or anything else, and even then they had a few warbirds coming zinging by. And the Allison engine was another favorite, just a different sound.
“So I remember the sounds.”
Jim and Quinlan flew Ol’ Blue, the family 172, from his home in Dayton, Ohio.
“It’s a 1958 172 that we found in a field in Alabama after it sat through a hurricane. It was home to several thousand mud daubers at the time. The first time I opened Blue’s door the whole aircraft buzzed. About 18 months after we first heard the buzz we had the bugs cleared out.”
That was late 1997.
Jim and sons rebuilt the engine and redesigned the electrical system. “With modern avionics we needed a proper alternator.”
Since then Ol’ Blue has been a good training airplane for his kids, creating an ATP and a space engineer—and amassing more than 1,000 hours in the process.
“Can’t argue with that.” Nope.
And from where did the name come?
“It was originally a horrible sort of blue trim on overall white. Well, it was old and it was blue.”
Quinlan’s still only 6, so he’s a little fuzzy on whether he wants to be a pilot one day, but he confirms that both his dad and his grandfather are good pilots.
And his favorite plane so far here? “The black one with the spots.”
Lee Allen’s trip to AirVenture in his 1985 Maule was uneventful, but not so on a flight a few years back.
On that trip the engine quit.
“I was going back to the factory at Maule, just to tour the factory. We were 1,500 feet about a mile from the airport. They have a little seaplane lake there where they test the floatplanes, and I could tell I was gonna make the middle of the lake.
“So there was a little wheat field off to the left, and I took it.”
“I pretty much wrecked the airplane. … Nobody was hurt but the wheat was pretty tall, and it grabbed the wheels and really tore the airplane up.”
Though the aircraft was substantially damaged, he got it back to Texas with the help of Maule and some friends, spending about six months restoring it.
As parked today in the North 40, you wouldn’t know this plane had once been so damaged.
So, was this emergency an issue when he returned to the sky?
“You know the next one wasn’t, but the flights after that tended to be. And then especially when I got the Maule back together. It’s taken a while to get confidence back in the airplane.
“You know you say that you gotta get right back on the horse that bucks you off. That’s easy to say, but sometimes hard to do.
“You know and the scary part was we’ve flown over the swamps in Louisiana…if something happened there, the results wouldn’t have been near as good.”
Lee lives at Hilltop Lakes, a Texas airport community with about 25 planes, including a lot of homebuilts.
Beyond the Maule Lee also owns a Rutan Defiant and an Aeronca 7EC Champ.
Though not picking favorites, he confesses to a soft spot for the Champ. “It’s a real hoot to fly. In the area there where I’m from, we can make a poker run on five grass strips and not fly for an hour. So it’s a lot of that type of flying; the Champ’s ideal for that.”
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