ABA Banking Journal - June 2014 - (Page 56)
Dream of flight
Lifelong wish for wings fulﬁlled in a wrecked vintage plane
Airplanes fascinated Stephen Christy since
childhood. He read everything he could
about aviation. Pioneer Charles Lindbergh
was one of young Christy's heroes.
"I was always interested, but I never had
any money to buy a plane," says Christy,
who is president and CEO of Mascoma
Savings Bank, Lebanon, N.H.
Christy's father was a Presbyterian
minister, and the family moved every five
years or so when his father moved to a new
church. It was not a profession that built
up family wealth. Christy had an uncle
who flew B-47s in the Air Force, and who
owned several planes over the years. One
was a Piper Comanche, and another was
a twin-engine plane that the uncle and his
Grounded no more, banker Stephen Christy and his 1948 Cessna 195, an Art
wife, also a pilot, flew to Europe in the '70s.
Deco "tail dragger" whose history and eccentricity impressed him.
"That was before GPS," says Christy, 64,
with admiration. "We take many things for
explains. The luggage "wants" to
granted in aviation today."
reverse direction, as does a tail-dragChristy's uncle and aunt knew of his interest and offered to teach him to fly.
ger out of alignment. Pilots need a
But the planes they owned proved too advanced for a beginner, and money
tail-dragger endorsement on their
again stymied him. He couldn't afford fuel for lessons.
licenses to operate one.
The closest Christy came to reaching the clouds was a seasonal job over eight
In 2001, the previous owners of
summers with the Mount Washington Cog Railway, in New Hampshire. The
the Cessna 195 had not only had a
tourist rail line has climbed New England's highest peak for over 100 years.
ground loop, but flipped-in part due
Christy learned to run locomotives up the extreme grade. However, he much
to a cross wind. No one died, however
preferred working in the railway's shop, overhauling engines and other work. He
the plane sustained significant damactually helped build one locomotive from scratch.
age. It took shops in three different
Born in Atlanta, Ga., Christy fell in love with New Hampshire and its cooler
states to fix the parts that were bent
weather, and joined the bank in 1973 as a teller, still grounded.
But in 1990, he decided it was time to do something about his dream of flight,
The plane's history, and its eccenor put it away. He began taking flying lessons, and in time, went in on a plane
tricity, might have put off some peowith several other pilots. In time, he sold out of that, and bought his own planes.
ple. But Christy had long admired the
The opportunity for his current plane came in an unusual way: a wreck.
Cessna 195, built between 1947 and
The single-engine, aluminum-bodied plane, a 1948 Cessna 195, is a "tail1954. He likes its Art Deco design
dragger." Such planes have two fixed wheels under the fuselage and a much
and its impressive radial engine.
smaller wheel that keeps the tail off the ground for takeoff and landing. Tail
"Jets don't do anything for me,"
draggers can be tricky, Christy explains, because too much variance in steering
says Christy. "And the average pilot
on the ground can cause a "ground loop." That's a 180-degree turn. (The 195
can't afford to own and operate one."
is especially long for its size, making it still more challenging. Online discussion
-Steve Cocheo, executive editor and
groups debate methods of handling 195s on the ground.)
digital content manager
To get the effect, try pushing a two-wheeled Rollaboard-style suitcase, he
ABA BANKING JOURNAL
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - June 2014
Affordable housing pioneer
Pass the Aspirin
Lines of defense
Top performing community banks
Around the ABA
ABA Banking Journal - June 2014