“American Gothic,” Greg’s December column & photos

“You forget how humid the Midwest is compared to Arizona!” said Jean. Sweat streaked our faces as we climbed from the Flying Carpet in rural Winterset, Iowa.

Bound for a Chicago wedding, we’d been enticed to stop here by a photo of Glen and Linda Anderson evoking Grant Wood’s iconic painting, American Gothic. These modern-day farmers, however, posed with an airplane instead of pitchforks. I was examining the only other airplane on the ramp, a rare but derelict pressurized Mooney M22 Mustang, when the Andersons drove up.

“Welcome to Madison County!” said Linda. “The main covered bridge from the movie is just a few miles away. And John Wayne was born here in Winterset.” Following introductions, they helped install our airplane amid undergrowth in an aging doorless hangar. Then they introduced Red Bird, their crimson 1966 Cessna 172 purchased for just $27,000. I appreciate practical airplanes that everyday people can afford.

“Shall we dine in town? Or grill steaks from beef raised on our farm?” asked Linda, checking her watch. “Winterset has a really good Pizza Hut,” added Glen.

“Let’s eat at your farm,” said Jean, sidestepping Glen’s hint. “Nothing beats Iowa steaks!” I’d expected flat, open fields like those in Illinois where Jean and I grew up, but instead we traveled densely wooded hills to the Anderson farmhouse. Inside, stuffed animal heads peered down from the walls…

Continue reading “American Gothic,” Greg’s December Flying Carpet column, here. Please allow a moment for the article to load. (This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine, 12/11 issue.)

Photo: Linda and Glen Anderson with their 1966 Cessna 172, Red Bird. See more photos from this story here.

©2011 Gregory N. Brown

If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!

8 thoughts on ““American Gothic,” Greg’s December column & photos

  1. Greg, we have enjoyed sharing the article and mostly, enjoyed meeting you and Jean face to face! Hope you fly this way again! Glen and I love spending time in Red Bird. She faithfully gets us where we want to go and in a splendid way – from up above! The sights we see are always memorable and only those who fly can share those views. Thanks again for the article!

    Blue skies!

  2. Hi Greg,
    I really enjoy your articles every month. In this month’s issue “American Gothic”, is based on a painting in which a stolid farmer holding a pitchfork stands next to his equally solemn daughter, by Grant Wood. I’m sure Glenn and Linda Anderson are husband and wife and not Father and daughter’

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Good catch, Jim! Guess I should have researched the painting as thoroughly as I did the M22 Mooney parked on 3Y3’s ramp! Obviously I mistakenly thought the painting pictured husband and wife. Then again, I still think the images are visually reminiscent of one another, and a marvelous counterpoint between the stereotype Midwestern farmer of old and modern folks like the Andersons. Incidentally, did you read that the models for the painting were actually the painter’s sister and their dentist? Nothing is what it seems! In any case, thank you for straightening me out! Sincerely, Greg

      PS: Where do you fly out of, Jim?

        1. Looks like a beautiful airport, based on the AirNav photo, Jim. Closest I’ve landed to there is New Garden, which I liked very much. How’s the helo museum on your field?

  3. Too bad that you did not come a couple of weeks earlier. I have had my M22 annual inspection completed at 3Y3 every year since I bought it from Greg (the world class M22 Mechanic) about 2005. I completed the annual and flew N96MM back to FAY on 8 Oct. You could have compared the two machines. I have looked at that aircraft every year that I go there and feel bad that it is starting to deteriorate so badly. It is not really a derelect, but it does have a sad history over the past few years. Glen and Linda are among the kindest people I know and I am blessed by their friendship when I stay at Winterset.

    1. I would have loved to see your M22, JD! Any idea how many are still flying? There can’t be many! How is parts availability? I’ve long had a soft spot for M22s since years ago when one used to tie down near our U of I flying club airplanes in Champaign. I don’t remember seeing one since, until dropping by to see Linda and Glenn.

      1. I know that there are about 19 certificated in the states. I know of one that was here in NC (Pitt-Greenville) until about 2 yrs ago. It did not fly much. It went out west and I lost track of it. There is one that is flying for sure in Minot, ND. The owner of that airplane knows at least 3 others that are flying. It is alleged that there is another that is almost derelect in WA state somewhere, but I think that may be a myth. I have corresponded with a guy that flew his from Belgum to Australia. He had to leave it there last year to get the engine overhauled because it had timed out and the Aussie equivalent to the FAA would not let him get past the annual requirement. I have not heard from him lately, so I do not know what his status is right now.

        So far, I have not broken anything that has been a flight stopper. The long pole in the tent is the engine. If I have something go seriously wrong with it, it will cause a lot of trouble. Thus, parts supply has not been easy, but has not stopped the flying.

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