"Carl Schwerman " Avstry #17

Carl Schwerman tells us about three generations of flying his T-34

Published Date: Tue, 02 Apr 2013

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Show Notes

J.R. Warmkessel: Welcome, Carl. I always like to start these interviews by asking our pilots about the aviation credentials they hold. So maybe you could start there.

Carl Schwerman: Sure. I've been flying aircraft for 34 years this summer. I started at 14 years old, cutting grass and shoveling snow. The money from that went to pay for my flying lessons.

J.R. Warmkessel: It's amazing how many people pump gas or cut grass...

Carl Schwerman: Yeah, and actually going back just prior to that, my first ride ever was when I was 11 with my younger brother. My dad took us out to the airport, and Dean Crites, who Waukesha Airport in Waukesha, Wisconsin is named after, him and his brother Dean and Dale Crites. Dean gave my brother and I a ride in a Waco. Open cockpit...

J.R. Warmkessel: Barn stormer.

Carl Schwerman: Barn stormer type thing. And yeah...

J.R. Warmkessel: You got bit.

Carl Schwerman: Yeah, it was set.

J.R. Warmkessel: You started to get your pilot's license. Tell us what that was like.

Carl Schwerman: It was really a lot of fun. I had an instructor that was a real stick and rudder type of pilot.

J.R. Warmkessel: A lot of pilots were stick and rudder back in that era. That was the thing, right?

Carl Schwerman: Right. Felt really comfortable with him, he never had his hands up by the controls, or wanting to take things, and was just really easy going in teaching and his instruction.

Let you get into trouble, then just save you at the last minute?

Carl Schwerman: Well, he didn't really have to save me at the last minute a lot of times, as I remember. It was good solid instruction.

J.R. Warmkessel: What were you flying in then?

Carl Schwerman: I started out flying a Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

J.R. Warmkessel: Welcome to the club, man. Those are The Venerable 172s. From there where did you go?

Carl Schwerman: A little later on, I got my commercial certificate with the Civil Air Patrol in a T-34 A model.

J.R. Warmkessel: That's a great organization. So then you went to a T-34?

Carl Schwerman: Yeah, I got my commercial certificate in a T-34.

J.R. Warmkessel: So what's that like to fly? Tell me a little bit about that.

Carl Schwerman: A T-34 is a really nice airplane all around. It's got really good stall characteristics. You have to force it into a spin. It's a Beechcraft, so it's got a great wing on it. Nice for aerobatics and introductory airplane, teaching a person how to fly.

J.R. Warmkessel: Give us a little of the specs. What kind of engine is in there?

Carl Schwerman: Well, the original engine is a Continental 0470-13 225 horsepower. And that's actually what I first learned how to fly in, the airplane that the Civil Air Patrol had. There was a later mod that Beechcraft had for the I0470N model, and that's a 260 horse. And some guys have put in the 285 and the 300 horsepower engines.

J.R. Warmkessel: That's getting a lot of horsepower. And what kind of fuel capacity?

Carl Schwerman: The original airplane has 25 gallons in each wing tank, so a total of 50 gallons.

J.R. Warmkessel: That's a very reasonable amount of fuel.

Carl Schwerman: Well, it was designed as a primary trainer and really not to really go too far away from home.

J.R. Warmkessel: Two seats?

Carl Schwerman: Two seats, right. Tandem seats.

J.R. Warmkessel: Tandem set, OK. Now did you tell me that there are three generations in your family?

Carl Schwerman: That's correct. My dad learned how to fly in the U.S. Air Force. Moultrie Georgia at Spence Air Force Base.

J.R. Warmkessel: What year was that?

Carl Schwerman: 1953. The T-34s were A's and the B models from 53 to 58, and my dad was in the very first class at Moultrie Georgia at Spence Air Force Base to learn how to fly in T-34s.

J.R. Warmkessel: Well, we really appreciate his service, and we appreciate your service as well. Thank you.

Carl Schwerman: You bet.

J.R. Warmkessel: So you're flying it, that would be the second generation.

Carl Schwerman: Yeah, I did some training and learned how to fly in it as well. Then 22 years ago, we actually acquired a T-34. I'm currently teaching my son, Eric, how to fly in it. Eric is 15 and my daughter is 13. In fact, back a month ago, Kate did her first loop all by herself.

J.R. Warmkessel: You must be proud as punch. It's really important to take these skills and pass them forward to the next generation.

Carl Schwerman: You bet.

J.R. Warmkessel: The other thing that always impressed me, was the amount of learning that you have to do to fly an airplane. I don't think there's any one thing that's really hard. You go to teach children algebra or math, and they wonder why they need this skill. This aviation stuff, you don't have to have any one thing, but you have to understand it all.

Carl Schwerman: Getting in the airplane and the actual hands on flying is just one aspect of it, you're correct. I've been a certified flight instructor now for over 20 years, and over 4000 hours of dual given just in aircraft, not including all the simulator training and everything else I've done. It's always the book work and the ground school work that you really have to get certain individuals to dig in to and take hold of. Everybody wants to go out and fly the airplane but nobody really wants to do the book work.

J.R. Warmkessel: What do they say? The airplane's a lousy place to learn?

Carl Schwerman: Yeah

J.R. Warmkessel: Yeah, that's true. So three generations, that's really impressive. Now, tell us a little bit about your airplane.

Carl Schwerman: Sure, our airplane...

J.R. Warmkessel: Give us the history.

Carl Schwerman: The serial number on it is CG-223, and it was built in 1958. It was the very last airplane off the assembly line built for foreign export. And it was sold directly to the Chilean Air Force. Then, back a little over 20 years ago, a company went down and bought 16 or 17 aircraft, and brought them back to the states, and that's how we acquired the airplane. In that sense, we're technically the second owners of the plane. We had it painted up U.S. Air Force, kind of in honor of my dad, and it's remained in that paint scheme since.

J.R. Warmkessel: Obviously it's a trainer, but how is it to fly?

Carl Schwerman: I feel it's a real natural airplane. It's a stick. Having the opportunity to fly a lot of different aircraft, it's always nice to come back to that. Just very light on the controls, easy, turn coordination, it really teaches basic pilot skills very well.

J.R. Warmkessel: One of the other things, and you'll have to correct me if I'm wrong, the airplane had a little bit of a history of some problems didn't it?

Carl Schwerman: Well, there were a couple of operators. Texas Air Aces was one, and then there was another one in Atlanta, Georgia, called Sky Warriors. They were doing some air combat maneuvers, pulling asymmetrically with the airplanes, and that caused some issues with the spar in the wing.

J.R. Warmkessel: So basically they would have maybe an instructor sit in the back, and have a weekend warrior up front.

Carl Schwerman: They were pulling Gs and turning the airplane at the same time, and that's what we call asymmetrically loading the wing. And they were flying the airplane outside the envelope, but those problems have been addressed. There's a couple different modifications to the airplane that corrected that.

J.R. Warmkessel: I think just about every airplane out there is not approved for asymmetrical loading of the wing. I think even an F-15, you'll pull the wings right off it.

Carl Schwerman: The F-4 Phantom, somebody was telling me, and I don't know the exact numbers, but it can pull like 12Gs straight, but if you start to put an asymmetrical twist on the wing, it takes it down to like 2.4. It's not what airplanes were designed to be doing.

J.R. Warmkessel: It's not the airplanes fault that you're not flying it in a safe manner. That's just really fantastic. Well, thank you for saving this airplane, and allowing people like me, and other people here at Oshkosh to see it. It's really important that we save these airplanes, because they're just going to turn into aluminum cans if we don't, so thank you so much.

Carl Schwerman: You're welcome.

J.R. Warmkessel: You have a nice day.

Direct link to mp3 audio file of show (right-click to download/save).

Show Notes