As the Luscombe turns

Photo by Steve Russell

The past several weeks have brought some great flying weather to northern Georgia, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to take advantage of those precious flying days. Henry’s mom or “Granny,” as she is known in our house, has taken a turn for the worse. It’s gardening season, and I know the last place she wishes to be is in a hospital with tubes and needles stuck in tender places.

As a result, quiet moments at home have become rare, and invigorating moments at the airport are nonexistent, but when circumstances have allowed I have found comfort and escape reading the online group affectionately known as the Luscombe List.

Our list is a prolific one, and thanks to some Internet-savvy founders, an old one. We discuss various topics of aviation importance: Imperial valves, Goodyear brake parts availability and the ever-trendy sagging Oleo spring saga. But we also share our lives, and like the soap operas of old, we are a family.

One of the recent topics on the list was, “What is it about a Luscombe that drew you?” This is a question that pops up annually, but the answers are always fresh and new. Katie, the daughter of a long-time Luscombe owner, confessed, “I learned to fly in self-defense: Almost everyone else in my family, married into or original, male or female, flew. Had to learn to fly or get disowned. So my dad loaned me his Luscombe, of course. Then I wrecked it and he wouldn’t let me fly it anymore, so I had to buy my own.”

Katie manages an airport in Texas. Aviation must mutate genes, and like definitely attracts like. As a military pilot and a private pilot, her husband flies all sorts of things.

For Dan in California, the classic Luscombe design was love at first sight. “Now that I own a Luscombe I find that it pleases me just to go to the hangar and look at it. It’s a beautiful mechanical object wrought of gleaming metal. The fact that it can fly is an extraordinary bit of luck! Every time I walk up to that locked hangar door it is with a sense of anticipation. What good fortune to have found such a thing…” “Gleaming metal” is a clue that he is a polishing man. What I know about polishing, I learned from him.

Bill told his wife one day, “I sold your boat…the good news. I bought me an airplane… the bad news. Then I learned to fly. Five and a half airplanes and 38 years later we’re still married.” He also still owns that Luscombe and brings it down to JZP regularly for cookouts and such. His wife doesn’t come. She’s still looking for another boat.

Thor has been a regular on the Luscombe List for years. A Canadian, we know him as the Ice Man, and even though he sold his Luscombe, he is a regular list contributor. Recently Thor had a little adventure that he shared: “I was on the final leg of moving a plane for a friend when I got caught in a fog bank that developed around me. I was down to literally treetops in order to keep them in sight. Couldn’t make the alternate because of fog, it was building faster than the 152 would fly. I lined up on a road and was about to land when I hit the hydro line. Fortunately, I’m around to talk about it!” The general consensus on the list was we are glad that our Iceman was still around to share the tale!

Long time Luscombe owner, Ron, announced that Greensburg, Kansas, just commemorated the third anniversary of the tornado that nearly destroyed the town and the rebuilding that has been accomplished since that time. “Tonight I go before the city council to try to get them to understand the value of the airport in a way that will keep it open, instead of closing it to create a new business park.”

Thor recommended a fly-in to help the Greensburg fathers understand the importance of a local airport. Ron suggested that it be called the Thank God Thor Is Still With Us Fly-In.

“94Bravo gets a Paint Job” may not seem like much news to the outside world, but at As the Luscombe Turns, it’s big news. 94Bravo belongs to Bill and Sharon Tinkler of Tullahoma, Tenn. Bill learned to fly just after God was born. He bought his Luscombe shortly thereafter. (Katie of Texas is his daughter.) The airplane was recently delivered to Harrington Industries in Aiken, S.C., for a makeover. That’s a big deal because this Moody Larsen conversion hasn’t had a makeover since 1984.

Rusty in Valparaiso, Indiana, recently announced that his Luscombe, a 1940 Model 8B converted to 8A (pictured above), was 70 years old on May 14. A birthday party for the ole gal was held the following Sunday at Hangar Q3. He invited, “Please stop by for a piece of birthday cake and a cup of coffee.”

I couldn’t make it, but through my List, I could imagine the taste of the cake, the bitterness of hangar coffee, and the joviality that abounded. And for this ground-bound pilot, that was almost as good as being there.

Deb McFarland is the proud owner of Lester, a 1948 Luscombe 8E, and part of the “Front Porch Gang” at Pickens County Airport in Georgia. She can be reached at


  1. says

    Luscombes forever! I spent 10 years and 1000 hours in a Cessna 140 learning to fly. Now that I have some idea of what to do, I thoroughly enjoy flying an 8A/E that looks very much like the one pictured.

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