You know the type, the "old geezer" who hangs around the airport, knows everyone, has flown everything and is a font of knowledge. Every once and a while you run across one of these great old pilots, and as luck would have it we did recently. When my wife flew the four of us up North to Bois Blanc Island in the Cessna 205, it turns out one of the group is somewhat well known here in Lansing, MI. His name is Darwin Gibbs, and I hope to get an interview with him soon that I can post as a podcast. Dar, as he is known, is 85 years young and very active in aviation. We needed some cotter pins for a Continental 85 our son is putting together, and - of course - Dar had plenty. So we motored over to his home and hangar at University Air Park in Bath, MI to get our cotter pins. Well, we got more than we expected. It started off with a tour of Dar's air conditioned shop inside his aircraft hangar. A large vertical single stage 60 gallon air compressor stood just inside the door which he uses to power all of his air tools. Through the door into his workshop and we found parts for a number of aircraft engines he is in the process of assembling, and after a short explanation and tour we wandered out into the hangar. One of the airplanes inside was a home-built the owner had flown for exactly 100 hours and then donated to an anticipated aviation museum in Lansing.
The museum never came into existence, but the donor placed a restriction on his gift: the home-built was never to be flown again. Instead, Darwin puts it on a trailer and tows it in the DeWitt Ox Roast each year. Originally he had the quite long wings on it, but after having to remove them several times in order to get the airplane back to the hangar he simply cut the ends off to make it fit better.
In another corner was a wood Bellanca owned by his son, and under repair. A v-tail bonanza Dar had just finished doing an annual on was in the hangar, and then he grabbed our arms and asked if we wanted to see a really nice Super Cub. Of course, with my wife owning her own J3 Cub, we had to go and see it, and a beauty it was! There is nothing quite like a Piper Cub painted in Yellow with the famous black stripe on the side. It just looks like its ready to go. If you get the chance wander out to the local airport and find one of these gentlemen yourself. Take some time and visit with them, you will learn a lot about general aviation if you do! Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 If you are looking for perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds; but if you really wish to learn, you must mount a machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial. — Wilbur Wright, from an address to the Western Society of Engineers in Chicago, 18 September 1901
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