Jim Lacy flies N396A home to North Carolina

Many thanks to Jim Lacy of Hickory, NC for sending us this entertaining report about his flight home from Florida last November with the Mite he purchased from John Wilson of Middleburg...

"I first got interested in the Mites back in 1968. I got my ticket while I was in High School, and a friend at Perkiomen Airport in Collegeville, PA had one. Looked like a neat thing to fly, and I never forgot the fun that man had, every weekend coming out and cranking it up, not to be seen again until twilight. With a big smile, he'd put her to bed. I never forgot this. However, I do forget his name. N396ALacy2.jpg (50199 bytes)

I met John Wilson a few years ago. He lives in Florida at the Spencer Airport. Isn't this what all of us want?! TO LIVE AT AN AIRPORT! John comes to North Carolina every month and spends afew days up here, to be with his girl friend, and us airport bums at Wilson Field, just south of Hickory Airport. We know of all his exploits, including all his current aircraft, which are a Pietenpol, a J-3 Cub, a Taylorcraft BC-12, (which he keeps in NC), and a Mooney Mite. I just wanted to see it and fly it, never thinking of buying it. Buuuut, I decided to give him my Luscombe 8A,for the Mooney. My friends thought I was nuts! I have a PA28-180 for trips, so what did I need another multi-seatairplane for? Well, my girlfriend Nan explained that to me right quick. She loved the Luscombe, would rather fly it than the Piper, and absolutely did not want me to get the Mooney.

Well, I felt real bad, over-ruling her in this matter. So one Friday in November 1999, I left Nan, teary eyed at Wilson's Field, enroute to Spencer's in Florida. Two fuel stops, and four hours later I was in Florida, down on the deck going past JAX and Cecil Field, trying to avoid the high speed jets from JAX. They were having an airshow. Into Spencer for the night, and some Bar-B-Q. The county was having a Bar-B-Q competition. I went to bed.N396ALacy3.jpg (43524 bytes)

The next day I found out that the Mooney Mites had shrunk a little bit since 1968. It is a tight fit for a 6 foot 2.5 inch, 225 pound person! But I figured it would be OK if I extended the stick about 6 inches when I got back to North Carolina. I didn't know what to do with the rest of my body. We spent Saturday going over the entire plane, and it looked good. Two owners ago, it was used for pipeline patrol. I thought that was neat. Time for a test flight.N396ALacy5.jpg (37338 bytes)

I taxied it for a bit on the 3600 foot grass strip, and it felt good. Not much brakes, though. Need to do something there. Full throttle for take off, a little back stick, and it was off much sooner than I expected. I cleared the trees, and looked at the airspeed... Zero! Oh, Oh! Oh boy, here I am again, just like the day I soloed Paul Gingrich's Cessna 195. (Paul overhauled Jacob's radials, and I used the 195 to pick up and deliver parts. That day too was just as this one was turning out to be. With the 195, I had sucked a bumble bee into the pitot on take off, so, at age 17, I had my hands full).

I yanked the gear up and flew it around a little before throttling back to 1600 r.p.m., and just flew it to the ground. Beautiful flying little plane! We blew out the mud dobbers backwards, and were ready to go to North Carolina.N396ALacy1.jpg (36468 bytes)

I was met around Rock Hill, SC by my friend, Tommy Craig, in his Mooney 201. He flew around me and took pictures, and we talked all the way to Lenoir at about 108 m.p.h. indicated. We landed at the Creek, taxied to my hanger and I pried myself out with Nan there, scratching her head trying to figure out how I even got in the thing!

I've taken so much grief from Nan over not having a two-place plane near the house to pop in and fly on the spur of the moment, I talked John Mayo, a pilot for US Air, out of his 1946 Cessna 140. You have to keep 'em happy, especially when you own three planes and try to justify all of them. It's hard to believe, but the Cessna was once owned by a friend of mine, and was also based at Perkiomen Valley Airport, in Pennsylvania where I learned to fly, while I was flying there!

Should have the Mite back in the air by March. Getting married on Valentines Day, so my three little friends have to take a back seat to that!"

Jim Lacy, January 16, 2000
Aerial photos by Tommy Craig