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First Airplane to Land at Oshkosh in 1970 Is Back in 2019
By Christina Basken
July 22, 2019 - John Dyke, EAA Lifetime 3566, generously donated a one-of-a-kind Dyke Delta JD-2 N555A to EAA that will be on the convention grounds in front of the Brown Arch during AirVenture 2019.
The Dyke Delta JD-2 was the first airplane to land on the EAA Oshkosh grounds in 1970. This model is also the first of its kind, built by John Dyke himself.
John built the Dyke Delta with a wingspan of 22 feet, with the main goal being for it to fit into a single-car garage and be small enough that it could be pulled behind a vehicle on the highway.
"The reason for the Delta, I looked at all of the other airplanes and I wanted a rotable airplane," John said. "I wanted one that would self-propel out on the highway. Well, the Delta fit the design parameters, the size of it, the folding wing size, and what it would be."
John started building the Dyke Delta in September 1960. It flew for the first time on July 17, 1962, and has flown for 61 years with about 24,000 hours of flying time.
The Dyke Delta is a four-seat monoplane with a retractable tricycle undercarriage. The wings can be folded upward, one atop the other, for towing or storage.
John's inspiration for the Dyke Delta came from Gen. Alexander Lippisch.
"I was in the Navy, [and] I had the opportunity to go to Germany and visit the Lippisch Museum," John said. "Gen. Lippisch, he was my mentor. I went and studied everything he did. I sat and read all his books. In fact, I had the opportunity to go through his library."
John said there was no plan for the Dyke Delta to be the first at AirVenture; it was just pure luck. John's wife was involved with working on the grounds and had always arrived early to all the conventions for that reason. This time, John decided to come up early, too, and just so happened to be the first airplane to arrive.
"The first EAA convention I ever went to only had 12 airplanes and eight campers," John said. "Now that I look at it, it's just hard to imagine how much it's grown and how fast it's grown. As Paul [Poberezny] said one day, we were driving around in his Volkswagen, and he said, 'John, what do you think about these fly-ins? We never dreamed it would be like this.'"