Model Airplanes Lead to a Pair of Pilots

How a father and son learned to love aviation

Chris Shearer, EAA 427568, caught the aviation bug early. His father, C.M. Shearer, EAA 685227, used to fly control line model airplanes when he was young and picked up the hobby again to introduce it to his son.

Chris and C.M. flew model airplanes for more than a dozen years, which inspired Chris to later restore antique aircraft. Around 18 years ago, C.M. mentioned to Chris that he thought he’d like to restore an airplane.

“He picked the Taylorcraft,” Chris said. “That led into teaching him to fly. My parents helped me financially get my CFI in exchange for me teaching him.”

C.M.’s lessons started in October 2001 while he and Chris worked on the now-rebuilt Taylorcraft. A series of extenuating circumstances, including the Taylorcraft being taken down for full restoration and Chris’ move to Michigan as part of his service in the U.S. Air Force, caused C.M.’s lessons to get put on hold.

His determination wouldn’t let them stay on hold forever, though. At his father’s urging to get a flying taildragger, and his wife’s suggestion that the airplane should have four seats, Chris began looking at a Stinson in Appaloosa, Louisiana. He and C.M. went to look at the airplane and Chris and his mother went back to get it a few months later.

The Stinson was flown to Greene County Airport, near Dayton, Ohio, where Chris lived. Chris and C.M.’s lessons began again in fall of 2010 despite the distance between the Dayton area and northeast Ohio, where C.M. lived.

Chris and C.M. covering the wing during the restoration after the engine was out (crankshaft broke)

“We made several family trips back and forth,” Chris said. “The airplane flew fine for the first 75 hours. Then, on January 16, 2011, flying back from northeast Ohio to Dayton, the crankshaft broke and we landed uneventfully in a farmer’s field. One thing led to another, and that proceeded to a full restoration of the aircraft.”

The airplane was out of commission for a while; shrunk dope revealed underlying fabric issues among other concerns. The ensuing restoration was a family affair as Chris’ wife and two children — both of whom are interested in becoming pilots themselves, once they’re old enough — all played some role in the project.

C.M.’s training was put on hold until April 2015, when the Stinson returned to the skies. It continued to fly until November 2016, when the airplane sat for another six months so left wing repairs could be made and it could be repainted. It was back and flying again in May, though, and between all the setbacks C.M. was almost ready to fly it himself.

He earned his private pilot certificate on Monday, August 28. Since then, C.M. has flown the Stinson twice to northeast Ohio, some 140 miles. He tries to fly every other day, and, according to Chris, is racking up miles.

“Other than flying model airplanes he has no aviation background,” Chris said. “Learning theories and terms wasn’t easy to him … I am proud of him.”

More than a decade of work went into C.M. getting his certificate, and although he will turn 77 in October, he shows no signs of slowing down. Chris credits his and his father’s life in the sky to the hobby they both loved as children.

“This all started from control line model airplanes,” he said.

The day C.M. earned his private pilots certificate!

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