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A Love Reunited
By Emily Noack, EAA 848998, Museum Service Rep
December 22, 2016 - For EAAers in the Oshkosh area Tracy Noack’s hangar is the Sunday morning destination. It is a meeting place for friends to get together, share a cup of coffee, and enjoy one another’s company. For so many of the EAA employees who are from out of town, Tracy’s hangar quickly feels like a home away from home. It is a relaxed atmosphere, yet entertaining and educational. Younger pilots get stories and tips from more experienced aviators while forming a close friendship and sharing a passion for aviation.
Tracy’s love of flying started years ago in Florida. She soon found herself in the seat of an experimental aircraft named a Fly Baby. She flew down the beach and remembers the pure sense of joy she felt being aloft. “I remembered grinning and even letting out a few cheers,” Tracy recalled. Shortly after that exciting flight, she bought the aircraft and heard that there was a large fly-in in Wisconsin that she should go to. She flew it from Clearwater, Florida, to Oshkosh for the 1986 convention. She had many adventures along the way including rushing to get the airplane under the safe cover of an Illinois hangar just moments before a hail storm hit. Her wheels touched the Wisconsin soil in July of 1986, and she prepared for the big show. This would be her first time visiting the convention, and the week would lead her to a new life in Wisconsin as well as her future husband, Bauken. She enjoyed the airplane for many years, until she was preparing to move back to Florida and couldn’t take the plane with her. She sold the Fly Baby and then changed her plans and stayed in Oshkosh. As the years went by Tracy has continued to share her love of aviation with her husband and their children Hannah, Hans, and me (Emily).
A recent article written by EAA’s digital marketing coordinator Maggie Nett about hunting down her grandfather’s Cessna sparked a thought for me. What if I too could track down a piece of her family’s aviation heritage? Without having seen or heard of the Fly Baby in almost 20 years, I was not sure if the aircraft was even still in existence. After a quick N-number search, I had the name of the person the aircraft was last registered to. The aircraft was being stored in a barn in Neillsville, Wisconsin, about two and a half hours away.
The first idea was to go and see the aircraft, but soon the idea became buying my mother’s aircraft and returning it to her as a Christmas present. Upon talking to the current owner, he was willing to sell it for a reasonable price. As I shared the news of finding the plane, Tracy’s friends and family who frequent her hangar one by one decided to chip in. Before long, I had enough to buy the plane all with funds from people who wanted to see her get the aircraft back. On December 18, Tracy was led into a hangar having only been told that a group of friends had to go look at something. As she rounded the door in the hangar, her old Fly Baby stood proudly to greet her. Its bright red paint still shone along with Tracy’s name still painted on it. It only took seconds for her emotions to overtake her as it all set in. “I never thought I would see it again, let alone own it,” she said later. This surprise is a prime example of the culture that Paul Poberezny founded EAA on and proof of what an airport community is capable of.