|Hayden Newhouse sits in a cockpit he is very familiar with. The 17-year-old has more than 50 hours in the plane flown by four different generations of his family. (photo by Randy Dufault)
By Randy Dufault
July 30, 2013 - With some 60 hours in his logbook, Hayden Newhouse has never soloed an airplane with a nose gear. The fact that Hayden is 17 makes that extremely unusual.
And to make the situation even rarer, some 50 of those hours are at the controls of the same airplane his great-grandfather, Richard Newhaus, taught budding pilots to fly in 82 years ago.
Purchased new in 1931, the Newhouse (their last name was changed to an American spelling) Aeronca C-3 has now served four generations of a family with a long aviation heritage. Hayden flew the airplane here from its base in Freeport, Illinois.
"At the time we owned Princeton Airport, the first airport in New Jersey," Hayden said. "And in 1934 my grandpa, who was the younger of the brothers, soloed the C-3 on his 16th birthday. He got his commercial and private in it."
He later latched on with American Airways and went right from this airplane to a Stinson trimotor.
In fact, one of the exact Stinson airplanes Hayden's grandfather Ray flew before moving on to DC-3s is parked east of the VAA Red Barn close to where the C-3 is tied down.
Eventually the Aeronca and the family parted.
"The plane got sold with the airport and all the other airplanes," Hayden said. "My family kept track of it over the years, including my grandpa. He went to visit it often.
"When it came up for sale after being in storage for a number of years, we bought it back and restored it in the late '80s and early '90s. Then my dad started flying it."
Hayden's introduction to the plane came as a young child when his dad, Robert, taught him to taxi it. "I taxied it for five years until I was old enough to fly," he said. "When I turned 16 I soloed in a Cessna 140 because it was winter. Just as soon as the weather got better I started flying this."
The red and yellow C-3 is very much original. It does not have brakes and, at least when flying off grass, no tail wheel. The two-cylinder engine develops 36 hp and has a single magneto.
When asked what he liked about flying the airplane Hayden said, "Flyingwise, not much. It's the history that keeps me in it."
And, he says, it's cheap to fly, burning just two and a half gallons an hour.
"In good weather it is a good airplane. In bad weather I'd rather be on the ground," he said. Any wind over about 6 knots is too much.
Some of Hayden's cross-country time in the C-3 includes trips to the Antique Airplane Association Fly-in at Blakesburg, Iowa, and to a fly-in at Brodhead, Wisconsin.
No work is planned right now for the little Aeronca. At some point Hayden would like to restore it to its original green paint scheme, and add back advertising that included Newhouse Flying Service on the sides and Aeronca Agents on the bottom.
Prior to that project Hayden must finish a Pietenpol restoration he has underway.
The family is also in the midst of restoring a Travel Air that was part of the original Princeton Airport fleet.
Eventually Hayden realizes he will have to fly airplanes with the third wheel in the front.
"I have to in order to fly for a living," he said. "I have about four or five landings in a Bonanza, and it's just too easy. That's why I fly taildraggers because it is constantly testing you. In a tri-gear airplane the second the nose wheel touches the ground you are not flying anymore.
"This airplane is flying until the second you shut the mag off."