The prescription for Gaedes thriving in Alaska is a generous dose of airplanes and flying. Doc was bit with the flying bug in Anchorage, Alaska, 1956, when he took float planes lessons at Lake Hood. His son, Mark, grew up in the backseat of his father's airplanes and took over the controls before soloing age of 16. Naomi married a man with a private pilot's license — who flew his Cessna 210 from Denver to Alaska, and then into Interior Alaska and Barrow. Doc's second daughter, Ruth, married an A&P mechanic who started Rupp Aircraft Services on the Gaede-80 airstrip; in addition, he builds experimental airplanes.
The question has been asked, "Are any of the Gaede women pilots?" The answer, "The men fly, and the women pray." That's not the entire truth: Naomi's daughter, Nicole, holds a private pilot's license.
Mark continues to be "one" with his Super Cub. Nothing gives him greater satisfaction than to take off and land on that narrow half-mile airstrip.
Nevan with his Papa Mark
in the Super Cub
Mark taking off on Gaede-80 Private
Roger, Ruth's husband, uses the airstrip for his aviation repair business: Rupp Aircraft Service. As though it isn't enough to spend time in his hangar repairing aircraft, he has spent discretionary time building a Rutan-designed Defiant, a Stolp Starduster Too, and a RV-6.
Then, like a stray dog abandoned in the country, an un-airworthy 150 Piper PA-22 150 Tri-Pacer found its way onto the Gaede 80 airstrip in front of Roger's shop and sat there for several years. After awhile, Roger started imagining modifications for the old critter, and the rest is a Cinderella story of The Ruppe Racer!
Some of the alterations included:
- Piper cowling replaced with a van's RV-6 cowling and subsequent remodel of the firewall
- Spring aluminum landing gear, versus the Cessna type of spring steel
- Engine modification to incorporate a Dynafocal engine mount
- Vortex generators on the wings to reduce stall speeds
It took about 1,500 hours to rebuild this airplane? During the remodel of the Ruppe Racer, Roger used the door lock and latch assembly from Doc Gaede's Cessna 180? That was the plane Doc crashed into the homestead chicken house in 1984? (Read about this drama in Chapter 23 of Prescription for Adventure: Bush Pilot Doctor.)
The side of the fuselage was conceptualized by Guff Sherman of Sherman Signs and modified by Roger to show the scalloped shape on the nose. The scallop of the nose mirrors the scallop on the bottom of the wings. The stripes are intentionally swooped to keep them from being cut into by windows. As is apparent, the tops of the wings mimic those of a bird. The nose could be called a Rudolph design because of all the red. The overall theme is a retro mix of modern and nostalgia.
Naomi and Roger leaving for Seldovia, AK