Young bird flies solo across country
Jack Bane, the grandson of Fredericksburg residents Jerry and Marsha Bane, isn’t your everyday 18-year-old.
The young man graduated as salutatorian at his Corpus Christi high school out of his class of 400, but that wasn’t his only accomplishment.
In July, Bane flew up to Oshkosh, Wisconsin all by himself to attend one of the world’s biggest aviation events.
“I was talking to my grandfather’s friend, Dr. Michael Walker, and he was flying up to Oshkosh and he was trying to find a seat for me and it never worked out and I brought up the idea ‘maybe I can fly the Bush Caddy to Oshkosh’ and I said it kind of as a joke, but he liked the idea,” Bane said.
The Bush Caddy Bane references is an experimental, 120-horsepower, two seater, taildragger plane than weighs about 800 pounds (extremely light by aviation standards) and has an average cruise speed of 70-75 knots (80 to 86 miles an hour). The slow-and-easy plane was the last built by the late Stan Shannon, and has just enough instrumentation to make it legal to fly into controlled airspaces.
After deciding to make the trip, Bane had a short window to plan.
“I found out I’d be going two weeks before I left,” Bane said. “So I got my tailwheel endorsement and flew the plane for about 25 hours before. It was quick, but I was ready.”
Bane took off from White Oak Airport in Gillespie County on Wednesday, July 19, with a destination over 1,500 miles north.
His first stop in Tulsa, Oklahoma gave him a quick lesson in stranger kindness.
“I packed my sleeping bag as I just planned to sleep wherever I could, but in Tulsa I met a nice gentleman with the airport and he got me a place to stay inside the pilot’s longue and gave me a truck to use to go into town for food,” Bane said.
Continuing along his route, Bane quickly realized that similar kindness persisted throughout the pilot community.
“I found out how nice the pilot community is,” Bane said. “There are a lot of good, generous people in this world, and they want to give back and help out along the way.”
After a quick stop in St. Louis to see the arch, Bane landed at Chicago-Midway, one of the largest airports in the nation and an unusual spot for a small plane to land.
“That was interesting because they’re used to the 747’s coming in and they’ve never seen a little bush caddy fly in there,” Bane said. “I didn’t have to fly there but I just wanted the experience to fly into a big airport like that because I figured I may never get to do it again.”
Soon after arriving, Bane found out he’d have to stay a couple of days in Chicago due to poor weather, but he said people treated him well gave him a place to stay.
“They treated me like a king there and brought me dinner and put my plane in a hangar without charge,” Bane said. “I also met an older man who got me breakfast and told me ‘you really touched the hearts of a lot of people at Midway and it’s refreshing to see someone young so interested in aviation,’ and that was touching.”
After a stint in Chicago, Bane made it up to Oshkosh where he camped out for six days.
He met up with Walker at Oshkosh and received the nickname of “Midway” as his call sign for landing in Chicago.
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