The Motoring Life: Four Cylinders and Three Wheels

Some of you are thinking immediately that I am talking about one of the new Can-Ams or Polaris Slingshot — truthfully I don’t think any self-respecting motorhead would be caught in/on one — keep in mind this is an opinion column.

The old Porsche (Louise) is sitting this one out…

Louise just got me to the fun place this time.

No, I am not referring to the recent flux of weird three-wheeled barely road-worthy vehicles but rather not a road vehicle at all — not really.

Starting last year, I joined a new club based in Las Cruces — I was the very first member as a matter of fact — called The Rio Grande Aero Club.

Yes, planes and yes, planes have motors, too so this applies. We’ll convince an exotic car owner to allow me to test out their vehicle for next month’s article. Until then — PLANES!

The Champ next to a modified Cessna 172

The reason I joined is the same most members are in the club, which is to obtain a pilot’s license of some degree (there are different kinds).

I enjoy the club, as they teach flying in the most basic and old-school manner, in a 1946 Aeronca 7AC Champion, nicknamed by aviators simply as “The Champ.”

Cold weather flying!

The club has a couple of other planes, but this is what all new members start out in, and if after the first few lessons you get over your apprehensiveness of flying in a plane made of wood and cotton, you may actually learn a thing or two. It took me a few lessons before my fear began to subside, as I was used to more “modern” aircraft such as 70’s era Cessnas.

One in the front, one in the back.

The aircraft is mostly original except for a few required upgrades i.e. a transceiver for communications and a couple gauges.

Otherwise it is about as old school that you can get in our area. It even has to be started from the prop — yes meaning someone has to stand in front of the aircraft and pull the propeller to fire it up. Of course there’s much more to it, too much to explain here.

Just the essentials for general aviation.

Flying the Champ is great for breaking up my monotonous cubicle life. I look forward to getting up in the air, in possibly the slowest aircraft based in the Las Cruces Airport. It is great for training and flies wonderfully in the proper weather conditions. And honestly, you can’t quite get views like this in any car:


It’s very sensitive to touch and requires constant input while giving constant feedback to the pilot.

It is slow, flies low and is essentially a kite, but it is now the most fun aircraft I have flown to date. I guess I like fast cars and slow planes — but we’ll talk more about that another time.

Different aircraft, similar principal. Cookes Peak in snow.

The Rio Grande Aero Club is based out of the Las Cruces Airport and offers different memberships to anyone that wants to learn to fly, for the lowest price in the entire region.

The Certified Flight Instructors at RGAC are the best in the business — all former military pilots with literally tens of thousands of hours flying everything from helicopters and cargo planes to fully armed fighter jets during wartime missions.

The club president Kevin, discussed with a group of us about how he has flown over 135 different types of aircraft, that he can remember in his career.

Look them up on the web, and schedule your flight today — Come Fly With Me!