There is an old saying in aviation that “with enough horsepower, you can make a barn door fly”.  A friend recently gave me a copy of Principles of Flying, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1943, published under the authority of the Bureau of Aeronautics, US Navy. I couldn’t resist posting this graphic from p. 88.  [I hope this comes under fair use doctrine of Title 17 Section 107.]

The older aviation training manuals were often written in an avuncular voice that would appeal to farmboys. This Navy manual on flying takes the reader through the basics of Naval aircraft construction as well as aerodynamics. Floatplane construction and controls are particularly well illustrated.

My first airplane ride occured when I was 6. We went to a pancake flight breakfast in an airport hangar in Boone, Iowa. There, somebody was giving airplane rides for a penny-a-pound. This was a bargain price even then. I recall that the event was connected with the Flying Farmers.

My father had a pilots license and as did my cousin up the road. Cousin Verlyn had a Cessna 170 tail dragger that he flew from a pasture on his farm. One day on the rollout after landing he rolled into a pool of standing water, flipping it over and bending the main spar. It never flew again. 

Though my mother worked on her license, somehow she didn’t take the flight test. This was in the early 60’s and manned space flight was all over the news. Americans were going places and to see my father riding with a friend in his Stearman doing aerobatics over our cornfield could only mean to a small boy that somehow we could be a part of the big adventure.