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A Time Warp: From Brodhead to Oshkosh

In July, Ed and I took some time off and went to the Brodhead Pietenpol Association Fly-in in Brodhead, Wisconsin, and then to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, also in Wisconsin. The two events are at opposite ends of the aviation event spectrum.

Brodhead and Pietenpols

The Brodhead Airport has no paved runways and lots of individual hangers full of special projects and antique airplanes. The airport tenants and the local EAA chapter hosted both the Pietenpol Fly-in and the Hatz Biplane group on the July 26th weekend.

The EAA chapter members did the cooking for the Friday night fish boil, the Saturday morning breakfast, and the Saturday night BBQ pork chop dinner.

We had heard about this event for years from local Pietenpol enthusiasts, the Armstrongs in Brussels, and from the Tiger Boys in Guelph, both in Ontario. This year we decided to go and the weather cooperated.

What a great experience with genuine grassroots flying and enthusiasm. No "for profit" anything, no vendors, no pavement, no admission fees! A few seminars, great food, great people, and great flying! (I hope this sounds like the UPAC convention because that's what we're aiming for.)

Here's a little history for those of you who don't know about the Pietenpol Air Camper: This aeroplane was designed and built in the late 1920s by Bernie Pietenpol of Cherry Grove, Minnesota. It was originally built from wood and powered by the available engines of the day, usually a Ford Model A. Material and parts were obtained from the local hardware, auto, and farm supply businesses.

The plans were first published in the 1932 Light Plane and Glider Magazine, which has been reprinted and is available from EAA. The plans include instructions for either a wood or a welded steel tube fuselage.

The "Piet," as it is affectionately called, is a simple two-place, high-wing parasol, and open cockpit wood and fabric plane. It is a tail dragger with either a skid or a tail wheel. The first power plant was (from) a Ford Model A, which was modified to accept a propeller. Bernie experimented with other engines including the Corvair engine in the 1960s. Modern (?) Continental 65 hp engines are also used. Today, Piets can be found using all of these engines and several others.

There are several Pietenpols flying as Basic Ultralights or amateur builts here in Canada.

AirVenture Oshkosh
The other end of the event spectrum is of course AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin called the world's premier aviation event. Lots of vendors, big iron, jets, and military aircraft, high priced production planes, and noise! If you can go to only one event, EAA's AirVenture is where you will see everyone and everything aviation all in one location.

In the space of two weeks, we went from early '30s flying at Brodhead to the latest and greatest at AirVenture.talk about a time warp!

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