Clipped Wings

October 03, 2013  •  1 Comment

Are you waiting for an idea to light your bulb? Starting this blog was a very difficult thing for me.  Not because I was concerned of what people thought but mostly because of my creative writing ability.  Or the lack thereof.  It has deteriorated over the years.  My "day job" as a jail deputy involves filling out routine forms, making the same log entries, and writing reports on incidents.  The way we have to word those reports are not filled with witty anecdotes, but structured in ways that only an attorney will enjoy.  With my almost 8 years of doing this job, the most creative thing I write usually comes across on a Facebook post.  If you don't use a skill, talent, or apply your knowledge you will eventually lose it. Forgotten bird.

This same concept can be applied to anything that requires application and maintenance.  I was reminded of the old, derelict 1948 Cessna 170 I recently photographed.  This airplane has been sitting in the same tie down spot at Peter O Knight Airport in Tampa for years.  I started taking flying lessons in 2003 and I worked at the airport from 2004-2006.  That was when I was first introduced to this Cessna. I asked my flight instructor if he knew the story of the plane but he didn't know any of the details. 

A quick search of the NTSB Accident Database and FAA Incident Database show no reports involving this Cessna.  The FAA Registry shows the N-number registration expired in March of 2012.  It just sits here in this tie down at the end of a row of hangars out of the sight of most who fly in to Peter O Knight.  Unless you're a tenant or regular visitor you would never see this plane.  It's owner has abandoned it with no intentions of bringing it back to life.  It's empennage has long since been scrapped.  The passenger door is off and sitting in the cabin along with other litter and insects of various species have taken up residence.  It rests on two flat, dried out tires and secured to it's parking space by old tie down ropes.  The absence of the propeller makes me wonder if the plane suffered a prop strike; the first event sending the 170 to it's current fate.

When I worked at the airport in 2004, Florida experienced a very busy hurricane season.  Numerous tropical storms and a couple of large hurricanes crossed the state.  I remember all the staff thinking (and hoping) that at least one of these storms would rip the plane from it's tie down and we could eventually get it off the field.  But alas, the old bird held strong and stayed put.  Airplanes are obviously inanimate objects.  But under the airframe and inside the engine cowling, there lies a spirit left behind by the manufacturers, mechanics, and pilots who ever flew the plane.  That spirit is still holding on to this little Cessna and desperately wants to fly again.  Unfortunately, the owner has left it to waste until someone either wants to scrap it or spend the large amount of money to restore it.  As far as I know, the owner still pays his tie down fee to Atlas Aviation who operates as the airport's Fixed Based Operator (FBO).

Years of neglect have left what could be a gorgeous little airplane into a pile of junk in the shape of an airplane.  Abandoned airplanes fascinate me.  I want to know their story and why they ended up in their current state.  Was it a financial short-coming by it's owner?  Or maybe it was involved in an accident and never bothered to get repaired.  In a lot of ways, this Cessna represents my neglected and unused potential.  I've given up things mostly out of fear of failure and rejection.  Even though I KNOW my abilities and talents can make me successful.  This little Cessna is going to be my personal motivation to keep going.  Every time I start to doubt myself in the field of aviation photography, I'm going to look back these photos.  I may feel broken and rejected, but I'll just dig deeper to grab on to that potential.  The last thing I want is to be pushed into the back and forgotten about.



Cluttered cabin of N4167VCluttered cabin of N4167V


Don Haymaker(non-registered)
Wow, what a great piece of writing! From the time I was very young I always wanted to learn to fly, and I did, finishing my training and acquiring my ticket when I was 34 years of age. I love old airplanes and always have a little sadness in my heart when I see an abandoned airplane that would likely just like to share the joy of flight with some, one more time!

Also, having lost my job in June of 2012, I very much fear the what you have so aptly described in the very last sentence. Having been unable to find a job, to date, I fear I'm being "pushed into the back" and very soon I'll be forgotten.

Don't give up on your dreams! Thank you for reminding me that I perhaps need to "pull up my boots" and find an answer for my job situation. Maybe it's time I pursued another avenue and maybe I'll also be able to find a way to share the skills and knowledge I have with others.



P.S. I love the shot from the rear of the airplane looking into the gray sky. Doesn't it look like she's dreaming..."with just a little work, we could be up there..."
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