| ||I was the last owner of this fine aircraft. At the end of this post I'll explain where the unusual paint scheme and tail emblem came from.|
I was maybe 27 and when my friends were spending their last dime to buy their first car, I bought an old grand marquis for 300$ and spent my last dime buying an airplane.
I searched methodically for 6 months to fine the right airplane but in the end, my father saw an ad in the philadelphia inquirer for a 'used cessna 150, 7400.00$ 1200 tt engine 400 since top for sale in south jersey.
How could this be? My dad who knew nothing about planes found a gem for sale in the local newspaper unclassifieds when I haden't been able to locate one after hundreds of hours of searching through 'legitimate' sources.
After speaking with the owner on the phone I began to think this was the real deal, and arranged a test flight and after that I was hooked. One thing that came up was that the owner informed me that that particular runway had trees on one side and if there was the right crosswind, the trees produced a swirling vortex which could try and flip you on landing and that if you had the distance it was better to try and hit your touchdown long or request a downwind landing.
The plane had an unusual look, flew in rig and handled at or above published specs; not an average plane but a little bit of an apple. I left a 200$ deposit and arranged to drop off the balance of 7200$ the next weekend. It was a long week and I didn't get much sleep daydreaming of all the fun I'd soon have.
Since nothing says money like cash, I drove down the next weekend with my father and a brown paper bag with 7200$ in twenties :) Let me tell you, it takes a LONG time for four people to count all those twenties three times.
Once that was done, the owner handed me the keys and said "congratulations kid, you got yourself an airplane". As we were walking out to cross the runway to the tie-down, another cessna 150 or 152 was coming in for a landing, ballooned a bit right before touchdown, rose, went in to the incipient phase of a stall and landed landed mostly upside-down on its roof with a sound identical to dropping a metal trash can.
I and the man who sold me niner one two who was also the operations manager at the airport started running over but in a few seconds the two occupants of the crashed craft climbed out and the pilot was vigorously kicking his downed plane cursing at it.
The operations manager said "they're ok, the only thing he hurt was his pride. but he needs a minute before we ask him what happened. I told ya, watch out for those trees.
Then he turned to me and said "I have to close the airport while the faa comes and investigates but you should just take off now before I do that."
So I did, and immediately on climb out he reported the field closed, and I of course beat my father home to PNE where I had a tie down for my new skeeter plane.
Oh, about the paint and the name. The owner was was a certified mechanic and he 'gave' the plane to his teenage son. One day while on vacation, his son took the plane in to the hangar and spray painted it with krylon rustoleum and placed the unique emblem on the tail.
That emblem is an anthropomorphic mosquito with a knife and a fork in his hands and the lettering reads: "SOUTH JERSEY AIR FORCE" which is appropriate since mosquitoes rule the airspace down there.
That paint alone was worth the price of the plane, and for years I flew in to Ocean City and never got charged a daily tie down fee because they thought I was with the fish and game commission.
I hit a seagull doing full throttle at 10' altitude next to the boardwalk in Atlantic City NJ and verified the designer's engineering specs that the windscreen should withstand a large bird strike at full throttle. The windscreen bowed in from convex to concave about 14 inches during the impact and bounced right back as if it had hit a water balloon, but did not break.
Off of Cape May, I had it up to just above its published max ceiling and my loran indicated that it was indeed a bit faster than published specs for max speed and cruise speed.
I'll omit the rest of the adventures and get to the demise of this little plane. I was flying from PNE to State College PA late one summer with reports of scattered thunderstorms, my VOR went out. I had a loran with me but it couldn't get a fix due to the t-storms. I had friends in Reading so I figured I'd put down, get the radio fixed and pick it up in a week. Unfortunately I discovered after landing that the FBO there at the time did not work on reciprocating craft. "Really, it's just a radio." But no, they didn't want to be bothered. Then I got called away to work and couldn't get back for three months during which time the annual expired. One thing lead to another and it sat there for a long time.
The poor skeeter plane sat there and people assumed it was abandoned and children began to climb on it when they opened up the field for the Reading air show, which caused even more problems. I was never able to get a straight story on this but eventually during the storms from a summer hurricane either a piece of a hanger flew off and hit it dead center and bent the spar, or it was not tied down tightly and it flipped. After that the poor skeeter plane was not salvageable.
I think people assumed i didn't want the plane and thought i would just give it away because I never received any reasonable offers for it and could not get anyone for love of money to give me more than an "I'll see if I can get to it." promise to work on it, a promise that never came.
The truth is that I didn't live in the area and it was always just a little too difficult to arrange to have anything done to salvage the plane and as i said, I think people thought they'd get it by default if they stalled me long enough on getting it repaired.
Finally the airframe was donated to a paintball course where as far as I know it is a prop to this day. I have the engine sitting in my garage waiting to be placed on either a swamp boat or a kit plane, and I never was able to track down what the FBO did with the prop or the instruments though given the sideways glances the maintenance folks at the airport gave one another when I asked about them, I suspect they weren't really lost but walked off with someone. who didn't want to bring them back.
Anyway, that's the tale of the final resting place of November one zero niner one two, and it's been my hope to paint my next plane that same color scheme.
I'd be happy to hear if anyone knows more about this plane.