Flying Tigers

Taildragger Tales

Taildragger Tales (My Late-Blooming Romance with a Piper Cub and Her Younger Sisters)

[When I published this ebook, I was rquired to remove "Low and Slow in New Jersey" from the Piper Cub Forum. So the only place you can read it now is on a Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader. Sorry! -- Dan Ford.

When I was in high school, I dreamed of flying the yellow Piper Cubs that I could see, landing and taking off at the little grass airstrip on Wolfeboro Neck, New Hampshire. Ah, but a Cub cost $5 an hour to rent, and an instructor cost $2 more. That was far above my payscale. I earned 97½ cents an hour, clerking at the First National store downtown, but I had to save most of that to pay for college, starting in the fall of 1950. Flight school went to the deferred list, and it wasn't until forty years later that I earned a recreational pilot certificate in a beautiful J-3 Cub that had come out of the Lock Haven factory the year I started high school.

December flight That was at Hampton Airfield, another grass airfield, this one on the New Hampshire seacoast. At left is a selfie I took while flying from Hampton down to Plum Island in Massachusetts in December 2010. Zero Six Hotel was 64 years old that winter, while I was 79. I grounded myself the following year, figuring that perhaps an octogenarian shouldn't be flying over the heads of innocent children. (There's a high school just to the right as you take off from Hampton northbound, which is the usual situation.) That gave me ten years to flirt with that pretty thing, in one of the great romances of my life. (I tell the story of a rather different romance in Poland's Daughter: How I Met Basia, Hitchhiked to Italy, and Learned About Love, War, and Exile.)

As I was flying Zero Six Hotel around New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine, I wrote the occasional article about our adventures. Once in a while I would leave home for a fling with another taildragger -- a Great Lakes biplane, doing spins and aerobatics in Arizona; an Aviat Husky, learning the tricks of bush flying New Jersey (yes, New Jersey!). These stories appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Air & Space AOPA Pilot magazine, the University of New Hampshire alumni magazine, and online. (UNH was the college that got the dollars I saved from the First National store, a grand total of $1,000 for four years' tuition.)

Eventually I assembled five articles and an online essay into a little book for digital publication, first for Amazon's wonderful Kindle and then for competing e-readers. "Nice reading about the gentle world of recreational flight," wrote a reviewer on I certainly hope so.

Buy the book

Taildragger Tales is a $4.99 e-book of 11,000 words, the equivalent of 40 pages in print, with photographs. It's available from all major e-tailers:

Amazon's US store - other Amazon stores
Apple iBooks - Barnes & Noble - Kobo Google Play
other online stores and subscription services

The book has since been narrated by Kevin Theis, a Chicago actor who among other classics has voiced A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Charlie Wilson's War. Buy it for $5.95 on Amazon or get it free with an Audible subscription. And if you already subscribe, download it from Audible.

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Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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Posted August 2019. Websites © 1997-2019 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved. This site sets no cookies, but the Mailchimp sign-up service does. So does Amazon if you click through to that store.