Received a request for a flying story. What follows was an adventure by my late father.
Back story. Steamboat Springs, CO airport has a North- South runway built on a small bluff. Taking off to the South you immediately have 200' of altitude.
My father took a co-worker for a ride. My father, with a full belly, maybe weighed 165 lbs. His co-worker was more like 400 lbs.
They took off to the South. Per my father, the takeoff roll was longer than usual but he got airborne (ground effect probably helped). Off the end of the runway, he immediately started losing altitude. Turning West, he followed the Yampa River towards many hay fields. After about an hour, he had gained enough altitude to return to the airport (barely).
His co-worker thanked him for a great ride; thought everything was normal. My father soon upgraded to a C-182 but was very careful thereafter about who rode with him in the Puddy Four. 7,000 altitude and 85 hp on a balmy 60 degree day doesn't leave much of a performance margin.
We both learned to fly in that J-4. What a fun, forgiving airplane. Our first instructor was a missionary pilot six months a year in Central America. Probably didn't follow the FAA prescribed syllabus, but what we learned was valuable. How many students actually do off airport landings?