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Their Field of Dreams
Richard Murray, Contributing Writer & Photographer
Celina, Ohio, USA
Arriving Friday morning by car finds the Thursday arrivals ready for their brothers and sisters to join them on the field.

Every two years since the early 1980's, Hook Field saw the return of aircraft that flew for the first time from the same soil upon which they now land. Across the street leading to the terminal sits the Magellan Corporation, formerly known as the Aeronca Corporation, and before that as the Aeronautical Corporation of America, when it formed at Lunken airport in Cincinnati and produced the first general aviation aircraft, the C-2.

These descendants of a Jean Roche design along with their caretakers gather biennially to share stories, pass knowledge from one generation to the next, and recognize the work and individual dedication required restoring these aircraft to their original condition.

Left: N19RH, a 1943 Fairchild M-62 (PT-19), owned by James Martin, Best in Class Aeronca produced PT-19 or 23.
Right: N9970Y, a 1963 Champion 7FC, owned by Michael Weisenberger, Best in Class Champion built.

You will not only see a C-2 or C-3 up close, you will likely be lulled by the sound of their E-113 Aeronca engine as they fly overhead. The weekend is one of melodic sounds produced by 85 horsepower engines or less as they take off and land on the grass at KMVO, Middletown, Ohio.

Left: N83739, a 1946 Aeronca 7AC, owned by James Seymour, Grand Champion Classic.
Right: N2189E, a 1946 Aeronca 7AC, owned by Duane Jones, Best Post-War Custom.

Attendees challenge themselves to view as many different models on the field as they can. The National Aeronca Association, founded by Jim Thompson and now led by its Board of Directors, with encouragement and support from the Magellan Corporation and Hook Field, begin receiving aircraft on Thursday morning. Friday is consumed with a field trip to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio followed by a panoramic photo of attendees and a flightline supper on the field. Arrivals also continue on Friday with an occasional straggler who had to delay their arrival until Saturday, because of weather. Saturday is filled with conversation, seminars, a fly market, and culminates with an evening banquet where awards are presented to the best in class in each category.

Left: N33782, a 1941 Aeronca 65-TL, owned by James Hammond, Best in Class Pre-War Tandem.
Right: N2558B, a 7CCM, owned by Derek Landstrom, Best in Class Military.

2020 would have been the twentieth biennial convention, however, with the covid-19 pandemic spreading across the United States, Ohio's Governor set guidelines for assemblies of more than ten people and the NAA Board of Directors had to make the difficult decision to postpone this year's gathering until 2021. They are looking forward to a bigger and diverse attendance next year with pre-war aircraft from as far as California flying to the convention.

Left: N15AC, a 1949 Aeronca 15AC, owned by Brian Safran, Best in Class Post-War Sedan.
Right: N36928, a 65TAL, owned by Frederick Mildengurger, Grand Champion Antique.

2018 was highlighted by John Rodkey and his son Erik flying John's 1947 Chief 'Taffy' from their home in California to the convention. This wasn't their first experience at a National Aeronca Convention. In 1998 they flew the same route in Taffy. This little Chief has taken John many places and always brought him home with its 65 horsepower Continental. Camping under the wing ensures you get out at first light to enjoy the golden hours before the sun stirs up thermals to disrupt a straight and gentle flight.

The little plane that could, N9361E, a 1946 Aeronca Chief, powered by an A65 Continental, carried two people with luggage and camping gear from Goleta, California to Middletown, Ohio and back with Best in Class Post-War Chief and Farthest Distance Flown plaques. Way to go Taffy!
By R. Murray, Contributing Writer & Photographer
Celina, Ohio, USA
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