My father, a Marine Corps combat fighter pilot flew F-4U Corsairs in the Pacific in World War II. The Corsair had a 13-foot diameter propeller and was the fastest aircraft in the world. Some versions were equipped with over 2,000 horsepower, giving them a top speed of nearly 450 mph. It was a difficult plane to fly and especially tricky to land on a rolling carrier deck. After the war he, wary of the new and often unreliable jets, became a helicopter pilot and instructor.
Dad was very proud of his skill. On my weekends with him he would take me to the downwind edges of airports, critique each pilot’s landing techniques and regale me with tales of his flying exploits.
He had always promised to teach me to fly, but the years went quickly by as they do, and this much-longed-for transfer-of-knowledge never happened. After he died in 1995, it was clear I would have to take to the skies without his help.
After taking one to two hour introductory lessons in half a dozen different varieties of ultra-light air- craft, I found that most either flew too fast, or were too expensive, or both. In 1997 I settled on the oddly named “Six-Chuter Skye-Ryder Aerochute” as the most practical choice for the sort of aerial photography I had in mind. At first glance it is rather comical, resembling a folding beach chair on three little wheels with a huge fan behind it.