Goodbye, Silas Hicks

Charlie Kulp bids farewell to his alter ego, the "Flying Farmer."

Charlie Kulp, 82, flew this Piper Cub (and wore those overalls) in more than 800 performances since 1973. (Paul Glenshaw)

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A&S: And Ken Hyde mentioned that when you were managing airports, there would usually be a number of young people who would work around the place doing maintenance, or even sweeping up, and exchange their work for flying lessons.
Yeah, I did some of that. Even then, flying was cheap. When I learned it was about $10 an hour and after the war when I was teaching, it was only $15 an hour, and the people that you got—most of 'em were young people. And young people didn't have much, just like I didn't have much money. And if I could help some of 'em I would.

A&S: Were you also selling rides at the time?
Yeah, that's where you got a lot of your students from. I sold rides for $2 a person and about every fourth ride, I'd end up with a student.

A&S: Sounds like a really good time.
You were really close to it; you were all of it. Most of the airports now are owned by the state and have an airport manager with six or seven helpers under him. When I was the airport manager, I was the flight instructor, and if they had a restaurant, I cooked the hamburgers, I gassed the airplanes, I worked on the airplanes, and taught people to fly. So there was no money paid out for an airport manager because the airport manager made his money teaching people to fly.

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