Flying high again after two decades

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89 year-old Evelyn Grieve was in a familiar spot as Dave Bruce took her up in the 1947 Piper Cub he and Wyoming resident Paul Aicken own. Bruce and Aicken bought the plane from Grieve and her husband 27 years earlier. Submitted Photo

Paul Aicken got his first taste of flying in the seat of a 1947 Piper Cub. He never forgot that first ride he had with John Grieve and recently, he had a chance to payback the kindness which hooked him on flying.
In 1967, the Wyoming man was dating Diane Grieve. She brought him to her parents home near Warwick Village and her dad took him for his first airplane ride.
“I was in awe and it struck me that I liked this flying,” says Aicken.
He would spend a lot of time on the Grieve’s farm. Aicken’s father had passed away and he and John got along famously.
“Diane used to say she went with Paul a couple of years and then Paul kept going with her dad,” joked Evelyn Grieve, John’s wife. “He was like the son we never had.”
John and Aicken went out for flights for several years and Aicken mentioned to him at one time, that if he ever was to think about selling the Piper Cub – a highly sought after plane – he was to contact him for the first right of refusal.
Years past. Aicken got his licence and then became an air traffic controller. He worked in airports in Kitchener, Toronto and Hamilton over the course of his 35 year career.
As Aicken worked and married, the Grieves sold their farm and moved to Wyoming. The Piper Cub was hangered at Reeces Corners.
And the Grieves kept flying. “John flew a lot,” says Evelyn. “We flew just about every night.”
John would take the plane to their cottage on the Bruce Peninsula, giving one or two of their grandchildren a ride there while Evelyn would drive. She says they would fly over the cottage so she would know to go to the Lion’s Head Airport to pick them up.
And John gave many people their first ride in an airplane.
“If I had a nickle for every ride we gave,” she says smiling.
Then one day, 27 years after Aicken’s had asked Grieves to remember him when it came time to sell the plane, John and Evelyn showed up at his home in Waterdown.
John was about to sell the aircraft and he had remembered Aicken was interested in buying it from him 27 years ago.
“John wasn’t well,” says Evelyn, “so I said ‘We’d better call Paul.’ It was time that we did that.”
Aicken didn’t hesitate. He called his friend – Dave Bruce – whom he already owned a plane with – and told him he was now the proud owner of a half a Piper Cub plane.
The pair loved the little two-seater and flew it around Hamilton for four years before deciding it was time to restore the plane. That project took ten years.
Aicken was disappointed the man who introduced him to flying was never able to fly in the restored plane.
Aicken retired and he and his wife, Beth, moved to Wyoming and into the same building as Evelyn Grieve. They remained close and visited often.
Then in September, Aicken realized he was coming up to the 50th anniversary of his first flight in the Piper Cub and he wanted to do something special.
Evelyn had always asked about the plane and so he thought in honour of that fateful day, he would offer John’s wife another ride in the Piper Cub.
Her answer was a quick yes. “I was rar’n to go,” laughed Evelyn.
Aicken’s partner flew the plane in from its home in Cayuga in September and landed at Reeces Corners.
Evelyn was strapped in and took off traveling over her old farm, Forest, Lake Huron and even waved to her daughter standing out on her lawn in Bright’s Grove.
“It has given me another 10 years,” says Evelyn recalling the flight. “It was wonderful.”
And for Aicken, it was like the old Piper Cub had come home.

One Response to “Flying high again after two decades”

  1. Joe and Shelley Rymer

    Such a great story… A true reflection of the people involved and what aviation is really all about. Keeping people connected and keeping the dream alive…

    Two thumbs up!