The Union Recorder

Features

September 5, 2013

To the skies

Love of airplanes connects grandfather, grandson

(Continued)

MILLEDGEVILLE —

Tisdale was no stranger to restoration, but this was the first large-scale project he had ever launched.

“I had done similar things with old boats before, but there was a lot more work that went into the plane,” he said. 

With his mind set, Tisdale decided to take some time off from college to restore the Piper J-3 Cub, the very same plane that his grandfather had flown.

“I estimated that I would be out for about a semester, but it turned out to be longer,” said Tisdale. 

To completely restore the plane to its original working condition, Tisdale took a full school year, winter and spring semester, as well as one summer semester to achieve his goal. 

Although he had to take time away from his studies to work on the aircraft, it did not deter him from completing his educational career. In fact, Tisdale used the plane to travel back to college to finish up his degree requirements.

“I finished it up in January and enrolled back in school. I flew the plane to Clemson, finished up the semester and flew back with a degree in mechanical engineering,” he said. 

Matt had a lot of help from his family in the endeavor as well. 

“I had lots of help from mom, Dianne Harper, who let me take over the garage and make it into a shop, which is now mostly yellow from all the paint overspray. My cousins, Harold Spivey, who retired from Delta overhaul department after 29 years, and his brother, Larry Spivey of Milledgeville, also pitched in a lot with their resources,” he said. 

Tisdale is in the process of working on another Cub at his hangar in the Thomaston Airport, which he predicts will be completed and flying in the next six months, though none will be as special as the Piper J-3 Cub.

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