Prose & Photography: Ryan Tykosh
As the warm air of summer begins to give way to the chill of autumn, it's a great time to reflect on the fun times the past few months held. One of the true stand out events is around the first day of summer in mid June at William T. Piper Memorial Airport in Lock Haven, PA. This is the home of the legendary Piper Cub, the Piper Aviation Museum, and for this first week of summer, it’s the home of the Sentimental Journey to Cub Haven Fly-in.
Each year, any number of Piper, Aeronca, and Taylorcraft planes filter in and out throughout the week to partake in the festivities. Airshow performer Greg Koontz is a regular with his always impressive Alabama Boys routine in the Cub, and the flour bombing competition has become an annual tradition. For those unfamiliar, this competition involves a target set up along the grass field adjacent to the spectator area and pilots flying over while tossing bags of flour out as a makeshift bomb. It’s always fun to see the variety of aircraft types and techniques employed to get the “bomb” on target. High and fast, low and slow, side slip, diving in, each technique has its pros and cons but all are incredibly fun to watch!
What truly brings people out to this fly-in year after year however, is the atmosphere. This was only my second time attending and I can attest that the sensation of a close knit community of friends and family all sharing a passion for flight was apparent upon arrival. Think Oshkosh but on a much smaller scale and central to the aforementioned aircraft types. As the afternoon moved on and the sun lowered, the grounds truly take on a magical appearance. Everywhere you look there's something going on. Whether it's an excited child rolling along in a toy pedal Cub, gazing in awe at the real deal soaring overhead, a war veteran looking fondly over an L-2 Grasshopper, or families gathered around the grill at a campsite to share dinner and recount the days activities, it speaks volumes. It truly hits you at this time, the magic of this tight knit grass roots flying community coming together next to the beautiful central Pennsylvania mountains. I can’t help but look around me, take a deep breath of fresh air, and smile.
As if this sight wasn’t beautiful enough from the ground, it’s every bit as gorgeous from above. I met up with our good friend and talented pilot Neil Baughman, who had planned a photo flight consisting of two Cubs first, then a unique heritage flight consisting of Taylorcraft aircraft with his beautiful L-2 in the lead. After a mission brief and introductions, we were airborne. The true beauty of Central Pennsylvania needs to be seen from the air. The rolling mountains of lush green towering over the valleys below in late afternoon light is truly a breathtaking sight to behold. Once we joined up with the formations, wind was a bit of an issue from some nearby pop up storms to our east, so the Cub flight wasn’t able to get in too close. Conditions improved by the time we were in formation with the Taylorcraft heritage flight luckily, and the flight was able to move in closer for some golden hour light formation work. After we landed and debriefed, I wandered a bit more as planes continued to come and go, giving evening rides to children whose facial expressions said it all.
Unfortunately due to prior obligations for the following day, this is where my day ended at Sentimental Journey. Next year, however, I’m already planning to spend several days to take it all in. If you're anywhere in the area, I recommend paying a visit as well. For those of us traveling from show to show over the course of a season, it's a beautiful and relaxing retreat from the hustle and bustle of larger events, and leaves one longing for next year's edition.
**Full Disc Aviation would like to sincerely thank Neil Baughman and friends for making this possible.