Let it Snow, Let it Snow

posted in: Aviation News

By:       Norm Goyer

Truthfully, I do miss certain aspects of life in New England. When asked this question, I always answer that I miss our family camping excursions to Horton’s Camp Ground in North Truro. I miss our yearly trip in the fall to Burlington, Vermont to see the gorgeous foliage and to visit Tina’s sister. Doesn’t sound too exciting, but family rituals is the glue for holding people together. At that time, we had a large nine passenger English Land Rover with a canoe on top and complete camping gear packed in the huge interior. This meant we could stop anywhere and make camp for a few days, loved that Land Rover. We put over 90,000 miles in the woods of New England filming motorcycle events called Six Day Rallies. That big old Land Rover could climb the side of a mountain and be ready for more. This off road model is still being built for Africa and Australia but has been banned from the USA due to no stupid safety equipment. The body was aluminum and the four cylinders were the size of gallon paint cans. It had Warn Hubs, 12 speeds forward and a lousy heater. Sixty years later folks still ask me about my Land Rover which roamed the streets and hills of Western Massachusetts for so many years. It was bright red with my film company’s logo on both sides.

When snow covered the ground another, ritual we had was a trip to the airport to take the wheels off of the Cub and install a set of genuine 1939 wood skis with all the cables and bungee cords. This took the better part of the day and we usually made it a family outing. Flying a Cub from snow covered fields is a blast but you have to obey the rules or you will be in a world of hurt. The nose and tail of the skis are held in a relative position by cables limiting the amount of movement and bungee cords allowing the ski to work up and down over the uneven surface. If a cable broke the ski’s nose would tilt way down allowing it to dig in and flip the Cub over. If this happens the proper method to keep your Cub and neck in one piece is that you need to keep that one ski up in the air, the highest you could keep the wing, the ski would then hopefully flip back into position. The younger kids were given cans of ski wax and told to apply heavily to the bottom of the skis.

Wooden skis are far better than the more modern aluminum ones for a very obscure reason, they don’t stick to the snow if you stop the airplanes movement, even for a second. Why? As you taxi with metal skis they heat up a bit from friction. If the outside temperature is below freezing, the metal skis almost immediately freeze to the snow that they are sliding along on. You friend, are going nowhere until you climb out of the Cub and lift the frozen ski in the air, knock off the frozen snow and start over. Flying from deep fresh snow is a real thrill, you don’t have brakes so you have lost a good part of your direction control on the ground. When the Cub comes up to take off speed gentle pressure will get the whole plane into the air. Landing is landing, full stall and keep it moving back to its tie down position or hangar. We always had a piece of plywood with a hunk of 2 X 4 at the end to perch the nose of the skis on. This kept the skis from freezing to the ground. The problem with flying Cubs in the winter is that you freeze your butt off. No heaters in the Cub, snow mobile suits, parkas, scarves and mittens will keep you from turning into an ice sculpture. If you have a seaplane ticket then you know that flying from snow with skis is more like water flying than wheels. Then somebody invented huge snowplows and ruined skiplane flying from airports. Pilots in New England would often fly their Cubs, Champs, Taylorcrafts and even trikes like a TriPacer to local frozen lakes for impromptu gatherings on weekends. Yes, I do miss flying from the snow. Over the years I had skis for my Cubs, Champs, and Fly Baby. Hate the cold. but, ski plane flying was a thrill that you should try. Norm


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