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 on the north side of the airport, and east of the new terminal building, maintains a venerable 1946 Cub for purposes of instruction, tours and aerial photography.
For those wishing to experience simplistic flight, an excursion in Preston Aviationís 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 Countyís 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 facilityís 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.
Avemco Insurance Company offers a Safety Rewards credit 10% to any pilot who has a tailwheel endorsement, regardless of what type of airplane they own. Hundreds of accidents, each year are laid at the nose of the loss of directional control at slow airspeeds, ie: on takeoff and landing. Most are crosswind accidents but cobbling the power such as for go-arounds is another major cause. Cost to insurance companies: millions of dollars per year. The conclusion: Avemco knows taildragger pilots have better control over their aircraft in the slow-flight speed regime.
Now this is a good reason to
get your tailwheel endorsement!