The way a pilot feels
Oilman, industrialist, investor, visionary… William T Piper has as much right to claim the title ‘Father of General Aviation’ as anyone.
His long insistence on making aircraft that were cheap to buy and easy to fly brought thousands of people into flying. What’s more, his insightful strategy of making learning to fly as cheap as possible is a lesson in GA promotion that’s as instructive as ever.
Unlike a lot of aviation giants, Mr Piper wasn’t irrevocably bitten by the aviation bug in his youth. He was born in 1881 in Knapp Creek NY, a prototypical rural setting on the NY/Pennsylvania border, and he never felt the need to move far from home.
From age nine, he helped his father ride the coat-tails of the booming oil business, repairing well pumps. Then, in 1898 he lied about his…
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