Piper flight path comes to Hood River

Retired minister Bob Neiman gets a model of the plane he learned to fly in


Bob Neiman lifts his model Piper J-3 Cub down from the ceiling of his living room with the help of friend Roy Cedarstam and a special pulley system. Neiman, who lives at Brookside Manor, commissioned the plane to be built by modeler Jack Dunn as a reminder of the plane he learned to fly in.

Jack Dunn has built thousands of model airplanes in his life. But one he built this summer meant more to him than most — and to the man he built it for.

A sparkling yellow Piper J-3 Cub hangs from the ceiling in Bob Neiman’s apartment at Brookside Manor, thanks to Dunn. It’s a model of the plane Neiman learned to fly in as a 16-year-old in western Nebraska.

“I was very fortunate to have a class in aeronautics in high school,” says Neiman, 79, a retired minister who still conducts services at Brookside. During his junior year of high school, Neiman and three dozen other students in the program studied aerodynamics, navigation, meteorology and engine maintenance. By his senior year, all but nine students had dropped out of the aeronautics program, finding the rigorous studies too demanding. Neiman not only remained in the course but excelled at it.

Neiman and his fellow flying students used a plane based at an airfield in Scott’s Bluff, Neb., a few miles away from his hometown of Gering.

“My flight path would take me down the Platt River to North Platt,” Neiman recalls. “If I had to land for fuel, I’d do it, then I’d turn around and head back.”

Upon graduation, Neiman got an A in the program and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force, fibbing about his age to get accepted. Neiman spent the duration of World War II flying classified missions.

A few months ago, Neiman began reminiscing about his early days of flying and decided he’d like to have a model of the plane he learned to fly in. Some initial inquiries led him quickly to Dunn, who offered to build a Piper Cub model for him. Dunn spent a couple of months building the plane — and even had some help from members of the local model plane club, Full Throttle RC Club, who wanted to be involved in the project.

“Bob is the kind of person who you only cross paths with once in your life,” Dunn says. Neiman had requested a detailed instrument panel and cockpit interior, and Dunn obliged.

When Dunn presented the airplane to Neiman last month, he was “ecstatic,” Dunn recalls. Neiman, who is legally blind, had a maintenance worker at Brookside rig a pulley system to the ceiling of his living room so he could pull the plane down for a closer look.

Neiman, a sometime writer, also travels to prisons to conduct sermons and doesn’t have much down time. But when he does, he reflects on what he calls his “romance with the Piper J-3.” He remembers those long-ago days, getting up at dawn to head to the airfield at Scott’s Bluff.

“For a 16-year-old guy getting up sunrise,” he says, “the sun coming up through that windshield and you’re taxiing down that runway. It was exhilarating.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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