Coming Home

Piper Cub N70215, then and now.

During homecoming weekend at The Citadel, the past came alive for hundreds of Citadel grads from around the nation and, in a few cases, the globe.

Old times, old tales, old pains and old pleasures — one way that time effects us all is that good times get better and bad times lose their sting.

As Cadets, we will always remember that first day, that First Sergeant, that first trip to the mess hall and many other "firsts" we encountered while living the Spartan life of a Citadel Knob. I bet you are thinking of some right now.

Wouldn't it be great to be able to step back in time, just once? Well, I did (sort of), and I would like to share my story.

In 1966 I joined the Flying Club at The Citadel. The club consisted of approximately 20 aspiring pilots who shared flying time in two Piper J-3 Cubs. One plane was white and the other was yellow. They were hangared at the old grass runway airport called Carolina Skyways on James Island. The Cubs were later relocated to the John's Island Airport just across from the Stono River. They remained there until the club was dissolved in the late '70s.

For years, I wondered what happened to the Cubs. Were they still flying? Had they been dismantled? Were their parts donated so that other Cubs could fly? Several years ago, by chance, I checked the FAA registry and discovered that Piper Cub N70215 was still active and registered to a pilot in Columbia, South Carolina. A quick phone call to the current owner was followed by a trip up I-26 to visit my old flying friend, the yellow Cub.

It was in that plane that I had my first solo flight on December 15, 1966. This is also the same Cub from which I took an aerial photograph of The Citadel campus during a full dress (salt and pepper) parade. In my humble opinion, it is still the most beautiful aerial photo of The Citadel. Over the next three years, I was able to sell enough copies to pay the entire cost of my Citadel education.

Sadly, the yellow Cub's owner passed away recently. As fate would have it, I was able to purchase N70215 from his estate.

On November 20, 2014, I flew it from Columbia back to its old home on John's Island where it is now based. Its hanger looks out onto the familiar runways where it carried me and many of my classmates.

It has been said that "you can't go home again." Whoever uttered those words did not know Piper Cub N70215, and they don't know The Citadel!

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