Day 2 & 3… The L-2 Trip

The L-2 in Anson County, North Carolina

WARBIRD RADIO – It’s hard to believe you can still fly an airplane across the country for about ninety bucks.  At 70mph and 4 gallons per hour the L-2 is not only fun to fly it’s a screaming good deal.  Day two started out around 8:30am with more instruction from Tim Goddard at Aeroflight Services.  Simply  put…Tim’s the best instructor I’ve ever had.  And trust me…I’ve had plenty.  First we worked on different takeoffs and landings (wheel landings, three pointers).   After the landing exercises it was on to short field and soft field work.  I learned a lot and the L-2 still looked like an airplane when we were finished.  What happened next surprised me a little…  Tim said “I’ve taught you everything I know…what you need now I can’t give you.  Go fly a bit and then we’ll go to lunch”.

To say I was nervous would be an understatement.  As soon as the engine started the nerves faded and I just focused on the task at hand…building a little confidence with the airplane.  I set up for the first landing and decided on a three pointer.  The winds were calm and there was nothing to it.  The L-2 settled in nicely and before I knew it I was in the air again setting up for my next approach.  This time a wheel landing was in order.  I rolled on just past the numbers and found myself laughing as I brought the power back up.  What a fun experience.  Perfect weather…great training and a nice L-2 made for an unforgettable morning.

After lunch it was time to fly again.  I went up and did some air work (stalls, slow flight, etc) and then tested about the portable GPS.  After the air work I flew back to KPXE for some more circuits.  After about 2 hours I decided I better come back down to Earth and fuel her up before the big trip.  Some sleep would also be nice…

The next morning I was up before the chickens and headed to the airport.  As the sun came over the horizon I was in the air over Macon headed east.  The radio was buzzing with calls from Cubs, Champs and other old tail draggers up for the dawn patrol.  One guy was telling his buddy the best spot to fish in South Carolina.  Someone else was talking about Moe’s Cafe in Raleigh.  I’m always amazed at what you hear on the radio first thing in the morning.  Pilots chattering away…FBO operators giving restaurant advice…you name it.  My first stop was in Thomson, Georgia.  The guy working at the FBO drove over in a golf cart and picked me up.  Without evening asking he said “I’ll drive you over to the bathroom”.   I guess I had that look…  After fueling up it was on to Anson County, North Carolina.

When I landed in Anson the place was a ghost town.  Before long, two people drove up to ask about the airplane.  The man was surprised that the fuel pump was self-serve.  He told me he’d only flown twice and was scared the whole time.  When I asked why he said something about witches and brooms.  I just smiled politely and did my best to not to laugh.  After the man afraid of witches drove away someone else showed up on a bike.  He never said a word.  For that matter… he never got off his bike.  He just looked at the airplane and then peddled down the runway.  I have no idea where he came from or where he went.  After all that I decided I should probably head east before any witches showed up.

The next stop was uneventful.  The nice man at the Oxford airport fueled up the L-2 and even took the time to educate some other pilots on the role liaison aircraft played in WWII.  Before long I was back in air headed for home.   As soon as I took off I could radio chatter from the Orange County airport.  Soon that would be home for the L-2.  I couldn’t help but think of all the people and places our “new” airplane had been around.  I know from the records that she’s been on both coasts and several places in between.  Soon she can add Orange County, Virginia to her list.   Before long I was slipping her across the threshold and rolling to a stop at the first turn off.  It wasn’t until she was in the hangar and I was on the road home that everything began to sink in.   

A wise man once told me you never own an airplane…you just agree to take care of it.  I couldn’t agree with that more.  The L-2 is a historic antique with a proud service history.  For now… my wife and I are taking care of her.  But someday someone else will take over.  The adventures we’ll have will someday be nothing but line entries in her log books.  The memories and moments we make with her will fade but the L-2 will keep on going.  I just hope the next person has as much fun on their first trip as I had on mine.


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