“I’m glad we went!”
The day had not started auspiciously; I had fallen . . .always the same balance problem, but fortunately, no bones were broken or even bruised. So, when Doc Hecker, the anesthesiologist who had provided the spinal anesthesia during my hip replacement surgery, called and invited Charlotte and me out to his hanger, we jumped at the invitation. Pretty remarkable when you think that the only previous time I had met Doc, I had been unresponsive. I certainly don’t remember meeting him in the operating room. But, prior to surgery, Charlotte and he had started talking about planes and flying; when he mentioned he had a restored PT-17, the same type of trainer in which I had soloed back in 1944, I knew I had to see this aircraft.
Today was the day!
Doc Hecker, a retired US Army physician, now in private anesthesiology practice in San Antonio, also works as a senior aviation FAA medical examiner. I think the flying doc credentials give him an excuse to own several hangars with beautifully restored vintage aircraft stored in each one.
I’ve enclosed photos of the planes we saw in his hanger. All of them are in pristine condition. The Boeing and the Aeronca participate in air shows around the country.
The bi-plane is a 1942 Boeing A75-N1 PT-17 “Stearman” N422DE that served at Maxwell Field, AL from 1942 to 1946. It later became a crop duster in the state of Washington before being retired in 1969. She was resurrected in 2009 and flew again in 2011. Both the Boeing and the Aeronca participate in airshows.
The red aircraft is a civilian 1946 Taylorcraft BC-12D Deluxe, NC43306
The black dragon is the logo for Assend Dragon Aviation, LLC
The green airplane is a 1943 Aeronca O-58B/L-3B, NC47185, US Army military “grasshopper” spotter aircraft that was stationed at Patterson Field, OH from 1943-1944.
Although this plane is more than 80 years old, it is still in flying condition.
Doc Hecker’s late father, Mel Hecker, was a graduate of US Army Air Corps, Class 42-J. He flew B-17s with the 381st Bomb Group (Triangle L) in England from Jan 1943 to March 1944 before returning to Texas. From there, he served as an instructor pilot in the Ft. Worth area. I was in the class of 45-C, so Doc Hecker’s father and I had similar experiences.
It’s a small world.