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Tue, Dec 16, 2003

Hot Wings: The Return

By ANN Correspondent and Fly-Low Editor Ralph McCormick

HO, HO, HO….

Who said there wasn't a Santa Claus (from 23,000 feet msl)??? 

In the case of the missing "Hot Wings" in Oklahoma that we detailed on ANN on the Fifth of December, we're happy to report that they were seen by a friendly high-altitude "Santa." Thereafter, the police were notified and most important... the wings were found!

This e-mail was received by Ralph McCormick, with the "Rest of the Story" on the case of the missing wings.

Folks: MIRACLES HAPPEN!!!! 

In follow up to the search for the missing Aeronca wings which began on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, here's the rest of the story...  

On Friday night (12/5/03), I received a phone call from Brent Higginbotham that he had spotted what he thought could be a pair of wings on the ground 2 1/2 miles north of Minco and 1 mile west of Highway 81 FROM 23,000 feet with his aerial photography work! 
 
Saturday; I over flew that general area, and was unsuccessful in locating the wings. I decided to fly back to Chickasha (18 miles south where the rest of the airplane is hangared), when my friend Cory, spotting from the right side of the airplane, yelled "There they are!" 

They were in the back yard of a house in downtown Minco, Oklahoma. We landed and decided to consult on the situation with the Minco Police Department (already aware of the search), which confirmed that these were the missing wings. After knocking on the door of the owner of the backyard, no response was obtained, so they checked the next door neighbor (family members of the homeowner), who authorized the police to retrieve them, and even offered the use of their trailer to transport the wings back to the airport.  Two trailering trips later, the wings were safe & secure back at the Chickasha Airport (home of the Champ)!

SPECIAL THANKS TO:
  • Pilot Frank Bice, who amazingly had taken photos of my Aeronca Champ airplane safely parked on the side of the highway just after the emergency landing,  and initiated an incredible spreading the of the Wing Search by email and Internet to hundreds of airports & pilots in this region.
  • Ralph McCormick of Fly-Low magazine, for his article (which appeared on ANN, 12/5/03). 
  • Minco, Oklahoma Police Department for their invaluable assistance in the recovery of the wings in a safe, courteous, legal and non-violent manner.
  • Brent Higginbotham, aerial photography in Oklahoma City, who reviewed his film of that general area and spotted what turned out to be the missing wings - and his diligence in tracking me down late at night to let me know of this finding, in spite of professional obligations at 4AM the following morning.
  • My best friend, Cory, whose expertise from youthful experience as an airplane spotter for the Wildlife Department enabled him to pick out the two yellow wings amongst a sea of yellow farm equipment from the air.

Final Note: In this day & age of skepticism and stories of heartache, this entire event and all those involved have once again shown the goodness of people everywhere, especially in Oklahoma. 

What a wonderful holiday gift!

FMI: www.fly-low.com

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