The pioneering aircraft concepts of Bernard Pietenpol, who created popular homebuilt aircraft designs prior to World War II that are still being built today, will be recognized on their 80th anniversary during EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, this summer, the association said on Jan. 28.
Builders and owners of Pietenpol aircraft are being invited to the AirVenture flight line to display their airplanes which, said EAA President Tom Poberezny, have remained popular because of their “simplicity and fun-flying characteristics.” While the complete schedule of activities will be announced as they are finalized, many flying and ground activities are being planned to recognize 80 years of Pietenpol aircraft, he said.
“Generations of aircraft builders have followed Bernard Pietenpol’s tried-and-true designs,” said Poberezny, who also serves as AirVenture chairman. “These airplanes capture the spirit of aviation in a very uncomplicated fashion. We invite all Pietenpol owners, pilots and enthusiasts to join us at Oshkosh this year to celebrate Bernard’s innovation and legacy.”
Pietenpol, who died in 1984 at the age of 83, was a self-taught mechanic from southern Minnesota. In the late 1920s, he experimented with two-place aircraft that used Ford Model A engines, which were relatively inexpensive and available. His Pietenpol Air Camper designs became quite popular, as did his later Sky Scout design which used Ford Model T engines.
Pietenpols are designed almost exclusively for recreational flying, with speeds well below 100 miles an hour and a flying range of up to about 350 miles, on average. It is estimated that Pietenpol builders have used more than 30 different engine types over the past eight decades. The airplane’s primary attraction, however, may be its economy. Pietenpol designs can be built for as little as $10,000 and, depending on the engine used, rarely cost more than $25,000 to construct.
EAA honored Pietenpol’s contributions to aviation on a permanent basis in 1980s, when the organization moved his hangar from Cherry Grove, Minn., to Oshkosh and placed it at Pioneer Airport, where it remains today. That hangar is home to Pietenpol’s last self-built Air Camper, N7533U, as well as many of his workshop items and other memorabilia. Another Pietenpol Air Camper, N12937 from the 1930s, is on display in the EAA AirVenture Museum.
This year’s AirVenture is scheduled for July 27 through August 2 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.