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Bowers Fly Baby
July 11, 2019 - The Fly Baby is a single-seat, folding-wing monoplane, originally designed in 1960 by Pete Bowers to compete in EAA’s design competition.
Charlie acquired the Fly Baby in 2004 from family friend Don Hoover. Don built the airplane in 1965 and flew it until 1980, putting more than 1,000 hours on it.
The Fly Baby sat in Don's garage until 2004 when he decided the best home for the airplane was at the Gay family's Skyhaven Airport in Pennsylvania. Since the aircraft spent the majority of its flying career at Skyhaven, this seemed like the natural choice.
Charlie refers to this plane as a time capsule because it has never had any restoration work except for being re-covered once in the late '70s.
"It was originally covered with Dacron material used for nursing uniforms, and it's the same paint scheme that it had when it was in Oshkosh in 1970," Charlie said. "It has an old homebuilt radio and wind generator. We're putting new flying wires on it right now and going through and just updating some of it, but it's pretty much exactly the way it was. If you were to look at old pictures, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference."
If you look closely inside the cockpit, you'll notice another unique artifact.
"He [Don] was a B-26 pilot in WWII, and when he left France, he parked his B-26 and decided that he wanted to bring something along so he brought the altimeter," Charlie said. "So the altimeter in the Fly Baby is the one out of his bomber in WWII."
Not only will the Fly Baby be making an appearance, but Charlie's father, Steven Gay, EAA 33336, will be making a return to Oshkosh in his Piper Pacer.
"In 1970 he flew a Piper Pacer to Oshkosh, following Don in the Fly Baby," Charlie said. "They both flew out together, and so this year, he's going to do the same thing in the same airplane … 50 years later."
The Piper Pacer has a special bond with the family, as it has served three generations of aviation enthusiasts.
"He bought it brand new in 1954, and since then my father has soloed in it, I soloed in it, and my son soloed in it two years ago," Charlie said.
The Piper Pacer will be camping in the Vintage area with Charlie and his family during the week. But if you're strolling along the flightline in front of the Brown Arch, you will want to pay a visit to the Fly Baby.
"The airplane is an example for how homebuilts were done back in that time period, so it's neat for us to bring it out to Oshkosh exactly how it was in the '60s so people can see how homebuilt airplanes looked during that time," Charlie said.