Flying Dutchman and his Cub A dream comes true
Hello, my name is Reint and this is Bear. He has been my teddy bear since I was three years old. I lived in a small village in Zeeland, not New Zealand but old Zeeland in the Netherlands, behind dikes below the sea.
My father used to be a street sweeper. He was a street sweeper because in those days, you had cows and horses that went through the streets and they dropped manure wherever they walked. Dad swept the roads clean. Today you donâ€™t have poop in the street and I donâ€™t think that your father is a street sweeper. Nowadays there are little vehicles that clean the streets.
4 So Bear the teddy bear used to ride with me on my little tricycle, of course you know what a tricycle is. He was sitting in front of me and we were just circling around my sweeping father. The sun was shining. It was a beautiful day in this quiet village, there were just me and my father. Then all of a sudden I heard, “MMMHHHWWWUUUAAAAHHHH!” “What was that?” I saw a little yellow plane, passing low over the potato fields at the end of the street. The small plane made a cloud as it flew. I said, ”Daddy what is th... ?” “MMMHHHWWWUUUAAAAHHHH!” the yellow machine made a sharp turn and came back, still flying low. I yelled, “Daddy, daddy, what is that?” My father said, ”Son, that is a crop-duster. It is spraying the fields with poison against potato-disease. The farmers are glad because it saves them a lot of work. He is a crop-duster pilot.” “Daddy,” I said, “I want to be a pilot, I want to be a crop-duster pilot.” I said to my teddy bear, “I want to become a crop-duster pilot.” Then my daddy told me, ”No son, that is not for people like us, we are just ordinary people, we are poor, so forget it. You won’t become a pilot. You’ll probably end up working as a street sweeper, like me...”
So the years passed and Bear ended up lying upstairs in the attic because I was twelve years old and a twelve year-old boy doesnâ€™t carry his teddy bear along.
And one day during the summer vacation my neighbour, who was a dairy farmer and had a lot of cows, said, “ Reint do you want to herd my cows? Just go with them in the fields and over the dikes. (In Holland everything is below sea level, therefore they have dikes!) You can take care of the cows and earn a little money.” I said, ”OK, I will do that”. So every day I walked the cows along the dikes. That long ago all cows had first names, now they have numbers, ear tags with numbers. One cow’s name was Nelly and another cow was called Norah. I always had to keep an eye on Norah because sometimes she didn’t want to come with me or she had other interests. One beautiful day I was with Norah and the other cows and suddenly Norah became restless. She had heard the sound of the aeroplane before me – but then finally I heard it too:
‘MMHHHAAAAUUUUWWW!’ And I saw a little yellow plane ascending from very low over the potato fields, sweeping up with an arch, a high arch and travelling down again: ‘MMHHHAAAAUUUUWWW!” Spraying the fields and then come up and make another high arch: ‘MMHHHAAAAUUUUWWW!’ Wow, a crop-duster, a crop-duster! And I saw the cropduster just disappear between some high trees. At noon the cows were resting because they needed to chew all the grass they had eaten that morning again and again. That’s what people call ‘ruminating’.
The crop-duster plane landed behind the trees. After I had made sure that all cows were ruminating nicely, I walked to the crop-duster. I said, ”Hello Sir,” and the pilot answered: “What, don’t call me sir, boy.” He was standing at the other side of his plane on top of the left tyre, he was checking the fuel. He paused for a moment and said, “Don’t call me sir, my name is Krijn.” I answered, “Yes sir.” He said, “No, no sir, just say my first name.” “First name?” “Yeah!” “My father told me to be respectful and always say sir.” “No, just my first name: Krijn.” “OK, Krijn, what are you doing?” “Just checking the fuel, to see if there is still enough fuel in it.” He smelled the cork and yeah there was enough fuel in the plane.
Then he said, “So, now I’ll put in some more insecticide and then I am ready to spray again.” I said, “Mister er-ah, Krijn what is the name of your plane?” He said, “This is a Piper, boy, a Piper Cub. You understand? Piper is the name of... like Ford for a car and this plane is a Piper, you have also Cessnas and so on; but this is a Piper. This is the smallest Piper there is and that’s why it’s called a Cub. Like a little bear or a wolf. If you look at the back of the plane on the rudder there you’ll see a cub carrying the sign Cub.” The crop-duster pilot even had the same emblem on his overalls.
“Is it difficult to fly a plane like this?” “No man,” he said, “it is no big deal at all. Anybody can learn how to fly”. I said, “But, my father says…” “Ah, fathers are not always right,” Krijn the pilot explained. “Mister Piper made this plane so that everybody in America, and also here in Holland can learn to fly. It is easy and that is why he made a little book, I always carry it with me,” he said, “which is titled ‘How to fly a Pipercub’. It is only a small thin book. In it you can see a Cub like this and you see also a Cub like... let me see... like this one... so you can take off from the water, or you put skis on it and you can take off from and land on snow fields. It is easy. In those days, before the war, this Cub was sold for two thousand dollars.
“It is maybe about as much as you get as a monthly allowance.” “No,” I replied, “I don’t get that much.” “Yes,” Krijn said, “only two thousand dollars, and because Americans don’t like to read a lot, Mister William Piper put pictures in this book to show how to get this plane out of the hangar, fill it up with fuel, start the engine and just go. Fly around the airport, make a landing and then put it back into the hangar. That’s all.” “Wow,” I said, “in a little book like that! So maybe… maybe I can learn how to fly”. He said: “Sure, you can learn how to fly, everybody can learn how to fly”. Then Krijn said: ”Would you like to try and sit
in it?” Of course I wanted to. To fly a Cub is no big deal, to get in or out of a Cub, that’s something one has to master the hard way. So Krijn let me sit in his crop-duster. Me, Reint, sitting in a real plane! I noticed a small teddy bear hanging from the dashboard. It was a teddy bear just like mine. I told Krijn of Bear my own teddy bear in the attic. “Yeah,” he said, “I always fly with my Cub bear.” I asked, “Huh, you always fly with that bear?” “Yeah, sure.” He looked at me. “Well, Reint, just sit in the back and then grab this stick with your right hand. When you pull this stick towards you and look behind you, the back wing goes up, so the plane will go up. When you push this stick away from you,
you’ll see that the back wing goes down and the plane will go down. And when you pull the same stick to the right, the right wing aileron will go up and the left wing aileron goes down, and you’ll make a right turn. So figure out for yourself what happens if you pull the same stick to the left… Sure – you’ll make a left turn!” That’s all. “With your left hand you operate the throttle to accelerate.” I said: “Wow, and how do you start it?” He said: ”Well I’ll show you, I want to start it myself because I don’t have time to talk any more, I have to work, I have to get up in the air.”
So I got out of the plane and watched Krijn from a safe distance. Krijn stood there in front of the right wheel. He turned the propeller and as it went “BBRRRUUUBRR”, he quickly got into the cabin and he took off: ‘MMHHHAAAAUUUUWWW’ and disappeared over the treetops.
That evening when I came back home I shouted. “Daddy I still have my teddy bear. You know when you have a teddy bear you can fly. You can fly in a small plane, it is called a Piper Cub. I met a man, he is a crop-duster pilot. His name is Krijn. He said that everybody can learn to fly, everybody can do it. I want to become a pilot.” Then my father said sternly, “This is the last time I want to hear you talk about flying and being a pilot. No! No! No! It is not for people like us”.
So, I’m a very obedient boy, I listened to my father like everyone should. I tried to forget about flying. I went to a school where they train you to be a teacher and I became a schoolteacher. I forgot all about flying. I got married, with children. After some years I went to an island in the Caribbean, it was called St. Maarten, with beautiful beaches. There I worked as a teacher. And much to my surprise my neighbour was a pilot. His name was Jose Dormoy. When he was 19 years old he was a French pilot who flew a Spitfire in the Battle of Britain against
the German Nazis. Now he was flying all the time to small islands like Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Martin, St. Kitts and Anguilla. Nobody called him Jose Dormoy, no, everyone called him Mr. Pipe, Monsieur Le Pipe in French. Why Pipe? Because he always flew with a pipe in his mouth. At that time every small plane had an ashtray on board. So you could fly and enjoy a cigarette, cigar or your pipe during the flight. Sometimes Mr. Pipe said, “Reint I’m going to fly and I have a seat left over. You want to fly with me, to Saba?”
So one day we flew to Saba. I sat next to him and all of a sudden he said, ”Reint you wish to try to take the controls?“ I said, ”OK what if I do this?” He said, ”Just try it“. I pulled the stick towards me and then ‘MMHHHAAAAUUUUWWW!’, we went up high into the sky. Then I said, “What will happen when I do this?” He said, “Just try it,“ and then I pushed the stick forward: ‘MMHHHAAAAUUUUWWW’. We went down and almost touched the waves of the beautiful blue sea. “And what if I put the stick to the right?” He said: “Just do it,” and – ‘MMMHHHAAAUUWW’ we made a whole turn to the right and and then one to the left. Then I said, ”Jose, sorry Mr. Pipe, what happens when I keep the stick all the way to my belly?” He grinned, puffed some smoke from his pipe and nodded. ”Try it.” And there over the Caribbean sea and the clear sky with some clouds in it we
turned all the way upside down... ‘MMHHHAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUWWW’ ... and I saw the sea above me and the clouds under me. ‘WAAAAUUH’. ‘What do I now?’ I screamed. Quietly Mr. Pipe brought the aircraft back to level again... I said, “I want to be a pilot myself”. “Sure, when you come to the airport on Sunday, that’s my day off, and I’ll train you to be a pilot,” Monsieur Pipe said. But alas, on Sunday there was no time for flying lessons. I went to the beach with my family. The beach of St. Martin, I tell you, you can see it on Youtube, is a beautiful beach. If you lie on that beach you see huge planes, Boeing 747s come ‘MMHHHAAAAUUUUWWW’, ‘MMHHHAAAAUUUUWWW’ right over your head. They nearly blow you into the sea when they land or take off. Too bad I didn’t have the time to learn how to fly a 747 myself.
Many years later, back in Holland, I was getting bored being a teacher and I became an actor, a clown. I wanted to go back to my old Caribbean island and perform there for the schools. With my friend Cecilia I went to St. Maarten and then we sat in the same plane as I had been with Mr. Pipe. Only now there was another pilot. Then we flew to Saba. You ever saw Saba? It is one big mountain in the sea. Nothing more. A miniscule airport. When you fly to Saba you fly almost directly to the mountain and then make a quick left turn when the right wingtip almost touches the mountain and you descend â€˜BBRRRRUUUHHâ€™. And like Mr. Pipe, this pilot also needed only half the runway to land. Someone made a little video of that and posted it on Youtube. So you can look it up on the internet and see with your own eyes I am telling the truth.
After playing shows for the people of Saba and after waiting for Hurricane Hugo to pass, we flew back to Holland. And there, in Holland, I got a birthday present from Cecilia – you remember my friend Cecilia – a Gift Certificate for one Flying Lesson. I went to the one and only airfield in Zeeland. There was a guy with a big grey moustache, we shook hands and he said I could call him by his first name ‘Mano’. An old crop-duster pilot he was. And I recognized the plane right away: a Piper Cub, with a Cub bear painted on its side! I had brought Bear with me and seated that old bear all the way in the back of the plane. I was sitting in front. My instructor spun the propeller… and ‘BBWWAAAUUHHH’ he crawled into the cockpit and we went up into the air. I’ll show you what happens when you go up in the air. So you are sitting here in the front. When the engine roars and you take your feet off the brakes, the plane starts rolling, the tail gets up into the air first and… ‘BBWWAAAUUHHH’ ... all of a sudden you see everything very clearly through the front window and within a few seconds you are airborne. So we flew all the way over Zeeland and I learned to make circles and keep altitude and even learned how to land.
There followed many more lessons. And then one day, after an hour’s flying, Mano the instructor, said to me. ”I’m getting fed up with it, I’ll quit.” “OK,” I said. “If you quit I quit as well.” He said, “No you don’t stop, you go on.” “I don’t think so.” “No you don’t stop, you go on.” “I don’t think so.” “Yeah I think so, I stop and you go on.” “I don’t think so.” “Yeah, I stop and you go on.” So finally I agreed: he got out and then I was sitting in the plane all by myself.
Mano gave the propeller a tug ‘BBRRRRUUUHH’ and ‘BBWWAAAUUHHH’ I was up in the air double quick, because the plane had become very light since I was now the only person sitting in it. Me! I saw a little cloud, and I just flew around the
cloud. ‘MMHHHAAAAUUUUWWW’! I saw another cloud – ‘MMHHHAAAUUUWWW’. I saw my own house, I made a slow turn over my house ‘MMHHHAAAAUUUUWWW.’ I saw the neighbour, ‘MMAAUUUUWWW’. And then I flew back. All of a sudden I realised “Oh, oh, now I have to land, I shuddered, “BBBRRR, I have to land all alone, by myself!” And that landing was like this: ‘KKDOING, KDDOING, KDDOING’! On the ground Mano, the instructor with the big moustache, waved me on. “Go on, go on, try again.” So I did it again. And the second time I made a very soft landing – ‘MMHHAAUUWWWW…’
And after some months I got my pilot’s licence and I could fly anywhere I wanted: to all Dutch islands, to Belgium, to England, even to Germany. “And Bear flew with me … all the time.” Then Kees, a flying friend of mine, went to Fort Worth, Texas, in the United States of America, to work on a new jetfighter, the Joint Strike Fighter. He said, “Reint I’m getting so bored here, I want to fly in the weekends, please come over so we can fly together.” I went over to Texas and we flew there. And then one day he said, “I heard there is a big Airventure going on, near Chicago, in Oshkosh, the biggest Airventure in the world. More than ten thousands planes will be there. There are planes from the navy, planes from the airforce and also planes that people built themselves. Shall we fly there?” I said, “Sure we go, and Cubby my bear, too!”
I thought of the thousands of planes that would be there. I said, ”Well, I’ll look it up on the internet, maybe they have also something with Piper Cubs there.”
And then I read on the internet there was going to be be a fly-in, not very far from Oshkosh, organised by HYPERLINK “http://www. supercub.org/”www.supercub.org. There was a small airport called New Holstein in Wisconsin where all the SuperCub guys went. Kees and I flew north to New Holstein all the way from Texas. Reception was warm and cordial. We had so much fun there, because they took us up in their SuperCubs. Those Cubs have very big tyres. With those tyres we landed on country roads, on riverbanks, just anywhere. And rinse the tyres by skirting the waters surface. I said, ”I want to have more of this.” Then Steve Johnson, the man of SuperCub.org, said: ”OK – just come back next year!” I said, ”All right, but then I want to fly a Cub.”
And indeed, next year Steve made sure that I could rent a real Cub. So, that next year Cecilia and me you remember my friend Cecilia - flew with United Airlines to the United States of America. Cecilia took some flying lessons as well, so if I had a heart attack she could make a safe landing. We first flew all the way to Texas to Kees, then to Steve Pierce in Graham TX, then south to Cajun Joe in New Orleans and up north the Mississippi and further up north to New Holstein and Oshkosh.
When I was in Oshkosh at Airventure, I noticed a green Piper Cub. Green with big white stripes. Ornaments from the war. These planes were camouflaged so the enemy couldn’t see them. They were called grasshoppers. The Germans hated them. Why? Because they carried a special camera, I saw one in that Oshkosh plane. This special camera was operated by the observer. It was a Polaroid like this, with instant pictures. ‘So you Cubby, you are the enemy!’ And I take a picture of you Cubby and pretend you are a Nazi enemy. Because the Piper Cubs make so little noise, just this ‘BRRRRRR’, the Germans could only hear them when it was too late: they would come in low over the treetops. Then with their new cameras the Cubs made pictures of the enemy’s soldiers, tanks and artillery. They would put those photos in a linen envelope with a long kite string attached to it. They then flew back to their allied comrades and dropped the pictures of the enemy so their friends would know where the enemy was and attack them. That’s what Piper Cubs also did. Another Piper Cub, now in Holland, is a yellow Cub. But it was green when it was built, it even flew on D-Day in Normandy, in 1944.
After this Airventure I returned to Holland. My old father nowadays lives in an old-folks home in his little village. I paid him a visit. ”Dad, look out of your window next Sunday, and maybe you will see something happen.” That Sunday, I flew this yellow plane together with Cubby around my father’s old people’s home. I waved my wings. Then I saw Dad come out onto his balcony with his camera and take pictures of us. I waved again and I flew back to the airport. In the evening I came to see him. I said, ”Dad did you see me in the air?” “You? No, that couldn’t have been a son of mine. I saw some crazy man in a yellow plane and I phoned the police and I gave them the picture I took.” But then his neighbour – you remember the dairy farmer with the cows – said, “My son is looking for his cows, they must be in the creek, among the reeds. Can you help my son to search for them? So next day I went up with his son in the yellow plane. We flew and we found the cows between the reeds. There after he picked them up with a big barge and everything was OK. And so my dream of flying came true.
IF YOU WANT TO FLY GO AND FLY.
Just do it!
Just do it!
Postscript This story started when I showed schoolclasses around on Zeeland Airport and asked who wanted to be a pilot. And no fingers were raised into the air. No money, bad eyes, poor maths, they answered. Then I thought of the Piper Cub, I am a part owner of, the very plane that was built to make America fly. And I created this story and told it on airport events. All of this story truly happened, though I borrowed my friend Krijns story for the first half of it. His father was a street sweeper and he grew up with cows. When I go to St. Maarten, it becomes my own story and in the end both melt. The real Krijn helped me by designing and building a mini Cub, so I could tell this story in schools with a Piper Cub. Now this Mini Cub, PH-KRY is in the Flying Museum at Seppe Airport and kids can sit in it and experience how easy it is to fly. My SuperCub.org friends in the Rocky Mountains, at New Holstein SuperCub.org Fly In and even EAA’s Airventure in Oshkosh invited me to tell my story for them. In 2010, at EAA, a lady in the audience asked me if she could buy the book. Then I had none but now: ‘Here is the book!’ You’ll find some of the events from the book on the webpage: www.roodkapje.nl/cub And you can build a model Piper Cub of your own: www.fiddlersgreen.net/models/aircraft/Piper-Cub. html
Thanks to everyone who made this book possible: Moniek Meinders: the ilustrations Krijn Krijnsen: his part of the story James Long and Pieter Honhoff for being editor Marc Gijzen for his dedicated scanning job Graphic Design Skylla that put all this together! Pieter van Schouwenburg for the lay-out SuperCub.org and Steve Johnson EAA, Oshkosh and Mark Forss Photos used with permission by Annette Witte, Cover Aart Klein, ‘Cows and Krijn’, p. 6, p. 26 Jan van der Baan, p. 8 Crop duster Joe (Pops) Dory, p. 10 Cub on hill Paul Claus, p. 10 Cub on skis Felix Bouman, p. 12, 26 Storyteller Anda van Riet, p. 13, Clowns on the street Pieter Honhoff, p. 13, In the Auster-plane Sarah Dickerson, p. 19, SuperCub Fly In Ron Sitzman, p. 20, Cub formation Rick Papp, p. 20, Cub at Shell station Krijn Krijnsen, p. 4, Cows in the reeds Mike Kincaid, p. 24, Cartwheel Larry Mayer, p. 25, Cub on top Diana Votaw, p. 25, Camping with the Cub Steve Johnson, p. 26, Fly In Johnson Creek Steve Eaton, Back cover All other pictures by the author. Illustrations from ‘How to Fly A Piper Cub’ used with permission by the Piper Aviation Museum, Lockhaven, PA.
A young Dutchman's dream of flying coms true with help of his teddybear and a Piper J3 Cub