|The Winter Haven Municipal Airport, otherwise known as Gilbert Field, has a rich history of flight instruction utilizing Piper J-3 Cubs. In 1951, the U.S. Air Force began a primary flight training program at nearby Bartow Air Base. As introductory training, novice military aviators learned to fly Cubs at Gilbert Field. One facility in particular reminds enthusiasts of those bygone days. Preston Aviation, located located in the main terminal building on the north side of the airport, maintains a venerable 1946 Cub for purposes of instruction, tours and aerial photography.
For those wishing to experience simplistic flight, an excursion in Preston Aviation's Cub can provide a memorable experience. Powered by a 65 horsepower Continental engine, the Piper slowly cruises above rural areas and central Florida orange groves. Polk County's many lakes add to the spectacular view. Other than being in an airborne ultralight, glider or sailplane, an unsophisticated Piper Cub may come closest to communing with the birds. In fact, it is not uncommon during one's time aloft to spot one of many buzzards sailing lazily above or below on the daytime thermals.
Tim Preston, the facility's Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), is a licensed Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) technician who holds Inspection Authorization (IA). He has more than 30 years of experience. Furthermore, Tim is a Boeing-Stearman Model 75, a type that served as trainers during World War II, expert and flies and instructs in a beautiful 1941 example of a PT-17. Peggy Preston handles the essential jobs of keeping the office and husband Tim on course.