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Hoffman X-1 Sweetpotootie Returns to AirVenture 2019

  • Sweetpotootie
    Photo by Ed Hoffman

July 18, 2019 - It started with a hum traveling through the sky. To others it was just an airplane, but to Edward "Ed" Hoffman it meant so much more. Running outside, Ed would see a small orange airplane come buzzing just over the trees in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Two or three times he would see it come by, right over his house, sending the signal to him that his dad was home safe from another fly-in.

Ed inherited his love for aviation from his father, Edward C. Hoffman II. Edward was the creator of five homebuilt aircraft, all custom designs. In 1970 his original design, the Hoffman X-1, nicknamed Sweetpotootie, was flown to the Oshkosh fly-in. In the early '50s Edward went to fly-ins for "antiquers" of the aviation world. It was at one of these fly-ins where he met EAA founder Paul Poberezny and discussed with Paul his desire to build his own aircraft.

Sweetpotootie was built in an open barn by Lake Tarpon that was tucked away by the orange groves. The airplane took one year and four days to build from beginning to first flight. The prop was built by well-known EAA member Ray Hegy. Fifteen years ago, Ed stopped flying Sweetpotootie due to an issue with fuel starvation and rough flight. When EAA reached out to him this March about bringing the airplane back for the 50th celebration, Ed realized that the plan he had to rebuild it after he retired would need to start early.

The restoration for Sweetpotootie started in March 2019, and on July 6, 2019, it was airborne once again. The all wood airplane built with Weldwood glue needed a new carburetor, restored brakes, fresh spark plugs, and some cosmetic work. One thousand hours of restoration work has been put into the aircraft to make it flyable again. This uniquely designed airplane has a 90-hp Continental engine and is iconic in the southern United States.

With only a few months before the 50th consecutive fly-in, the priority of the restoration was making the airplane airworthy and less on cosmetic work.

"It looks like a 60-year-old plane. It has all the battle scars, but that makes it sentimental," Ed said. He plans to find his father's logbook from his first flight to Oshkosh and make the same trip. "I want to make the same fuel stops, same flight path. I want this flight to be a tribute to my father," Ed said.

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