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The Time Machine

The Time Machine

By Bill Berle, © 1995


 Piper Cub :: Flying the famous Piper Cub in the EAA Young Eagles program
There is a time machine near Burbank that has just taken two young kids back almost fifty years, and then showed them what their future might be like fifty years from now. This time machine jostled the wide eyed youngsters, a boy and a girl around 12, over two thousand feet in the air and made more than a little noise. The trip was just a tiny bit dangerous, but the kids would both face a hundred times more peril if they didn't take it. The tickets cost nothing, and gave perhaps the most valuable gift the kids' might ever get. Both of the children's parents were stupefied when the 33 year old owner of the time machine told them that he let their kids' control it for a spell.


What the hell is this? A new movie... a Saturday morning adventure show? No, because this particular time machine is real. This time machine is covered in fabric, and painted yellow.

Slightly cracked yellow paint to be sure, but yellow with a black lightning bolt painted down the side. And a picture of the most lovable little bear cub on the tail. The machine in question is a 1947 Piper Cub, the most famous small airplane in history, having taught three generations of pilots how to fly. Already a classic and prized collectors item for airplane lovers, the Cub always made good pilots. The military versions of this plane were called "grasshopper", and like "Kung Fu's" mythical martial arts school, students will learn many lifetime lessons and skills under the Cub's humble smile.

But this antique throwback to the thirties and forties might see its most important achievement in the near future, almost 50 years after it was born.

 cublogo ::

If things keep going like they have been for the last year or two, the Piper Cub owned by Bill Berle (and thousands of private planes across the country) will make a big difference to one million kids. Kids that might be headed toward a life of drugs, crime and unemployment are being positively influenced by the "Young Eagles" youth program nationwide. Young people 8 to 17 get to fly in a small plane for free, and they get to see firsthand a better way to get high. These kids get a positive experience through aviation, and are reminded that staying in school, setting goals, and a drug free lifestyle can lead them to a sky high career.

The living room video game’s canned noise and animated reality is no match for the real sensation of actually flying in a plane. The adrenaline rush from flying penetrates through the most jaded and thick skinned teens, and leaves them with an experience they will never forget. You can tell a child to stay off drugs a thousand times, but let them feel how much fun life can be if they stay sober, and you have a very strong message indeed. Pilots have drastically lower statistics of drug and alcohol use, crime, depression, and career burnout. Interest in aviation also leads to good careers in electronics, aircraft mechanics, engineering. and several related fields.

Yes, there is a very small risk whenever you fly in any plane, from an airliner to a Piper Cub. But parents must also ask what the risks are of seeing their kids go into the world without a goal in life. What are the odds nowdays of their children getting mixed up with gangs or drugs if they are bored and disillusioned with life? How much would most parents pay to have their son or daughter get a positive life-changing experience that leads away from drugs and gangs? It's free. Because the pilots volunteer their time and airplane for the kids' benefit. Everyone involved feels great about giving the gift of wings. Most of today's airline captains got their start when somebody took them for a ride in a small plane, and they haven't forgotten what an effect it had on their lives. The smile on a young flyer's face, and making a difference in their life, is payment in full.

The Young Eagles Program is non-religious, non-political, and sponsored by the EAA, the largest aviation organization in America. There are local chapters everywhere, including Van Nuys (818-725-4247), Lancaster, Long Beach, Orange County, Riverside, Santa Monica, and Torrance. There is no cost or obligation. EAA has set the goal of taking one million kids for a free educational flight by 2003, the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers. All kids 8-17 are welcome. For nationwide information, EAA's main number in Wisconsin is 414-426-4800.

Brief Technical Data

Program name: E.A.A. Young Eagles Program

Program goal: Take one million kids worldwide for a free

educational flight by December 17, 2003

(Goal met and exceeded August 2003)

Program location: Worldwide, in USA through local chapters of EAA

Program status: Over 1.3 Million kids flown so far

Program Cost : Free to all participants, pilots volunteer their time and aircraft

Local chapters: Several in Socal area, incl. Van Nuys/SFV Chapter 40 (818-725-4247)

Aircraft information (updated as of august 2006): 1940 Taylorcraft BC-65, two seat training and touring aircraft built in Alliance, Ohio. Originally designed by CG Taylor in 1936 as the improved version of his previous design, the famous "Piper Cub". Steel cage welded skeleton with renewable "dacron" polyester fabric covering. "Tailwheel" landing gear design offers 'off-road' capability but requires higher skills to master ground handling. Aircraft has no electric starter, requires propeller to be swung by hand. No on-board electronic equipment forbids this simple antique aircraft from flying near large commercial airports like LAX.

Empty weight: 776 pounds, loaded maximum weight 1280 pounds.

Cruising speed: 100 mph, minimum flight speed 38 mph.

Minimum takeoff/landing runway requirement: 400 feet of dirt road, pavement, or grass.

Engine: 85 HP 4 cylinder Continental C-85, built in Muskegon, Michigan

Fuel: 24 gallons 'avgas', yielding 4 hours + 30 minute reserve

Est. value of most similar aircraft: $25,000-35,000

Total number of Taylorcrafts built incl. civilian & military, approx. 9900