History Takes Flight

With a collection of more than 200 historic aircraft, the EAA Aviation Museum is a year-round destination, combining aviation's past with the promise of its exciting future.

1930 Pietenpol Air Camper - N12937

Location: Homebuilts


View Virtual Tour of Cockpit


The Pietenpol Air Camper is a two-place, open cockpit, plansbuilt monoplane powered by a Ford Model A four-cylinder engine. The airplane is constructed primarily from spruce and plywood, with fabric covered wings. The original designer, Bernard Pietenpol (1901-1984), built the airplane so that the average person in the 1930s could build and fly it from almost any off-airport field. Even after seven decades, there are still loyal followers of the Pietenpol designs, building and flying low and slow open cockpit aircraft and having a great time doing it.

The Pietenpol Air Camper, N12937, is a tribute to the Golden Age of general aviation starting in the 1920s and continuing into the present. N12937, known as The Granddaddy Pietenpol Air Camper, was built in 1933 by Pietenpol himself and is considered the oldest existing example. In 1990, members of the Buckeye Pietenpol Association saved it from extinction by forming a corporation to preserve and display this important airplane.

The beauty of the Air Camper design is that except for engine changes — more than 60 different engines have been adapted for use on the airplane — the basic plans stay the same from the firewall back. This individual aircraft was the first to use the split axle landing gear and was the basis for the 1933 improved Air Camper plan drawings by Orin Hoopman. Prior to that time, there were no formal drawings for the Air Camper except those published in 1932s Flying and Glider Manual, an annual published by Modern Mechanics magazine.

In 1994, Bernard H. Pietenpol was inducted into EAA’s Homebuilders Hall of Fame for his pioneering work in designing a homebuilt aircraft and fostering the scratchbuilt airplane industry. Pietenpol is considered by many to be the “father of homebuilt aircraft.”

Length: 17 feet, 8 inches

Wingspan: 29 feet

Empty Weight: 610 pounds

Gross Weight: 1,000 pounds

Cruise Speed: 70 mph

Maximum Speed: 90 mph

Seats: 2

Powerplant: Ford Model A, 4-cylinder

Horsepower: 40 hp