The Air Power Museum (APM) at Antique Airfield in Blacksburg, Iowa, has added a rare and historic deHavilland Super Chipmunk, once owned by airshow great Harold Krier, to its collection.
Todd and Jo Peterson, well known aerobatic and airshow pilots from El Dorado, Kansas, gave the Chipmunk to the museum.
The Chipmunk and related artifacts and memorabilia will eventually be displayed, along with Frank Price’s Great Lakes biplane, the first US entrant in the modern world aerobatic contest in 1960, which was donated to the museum in 1984 by then Christiansen Industries Pitts test pilot Mel Baron.
The Great Lakes is currently on display in the museum’s main hangar, but will be moved to the future Earl Adkisson hangar, along with the Chipmunk and the museum’s collection of Duane Cole’s personal memorabilia.
A major fundraising effort to both restore the Great Lakes to flying condition, plus build the foundation for and reassemble the Adkisson hangar, will be unveiled in the next couple of weeks, according to museum officials.
“We feel honored the Petersons have chosen the APM to display this historic aircraft, as well as continue to keep Harold Krier’s legacy to the aerobatic/airshow industry alive for future generations,” museum officials said in a prepared release.
Since 1946 several nations have used Chipmunks for training military pilots, but the two-seat aerobatic trainer, N6311V, was designed to be the first monoplane to represent the USA in world aerobatic competition.
Krier served as a flight engineer on bombers during World War II and afterwards he learned to fly and fell in love with aerobatics.
By the mid-1950s he was performing in a clipped-wing Cub and later in a modified Great Lakes biplane, plus a biplane of his own design, the Krier Kraft. Think of it as a cross between the Great Lakes and a Bucker Jungmeister, museum officials suggest.
With an introduction from his friend and fellow airshow pilot, Frank Price, Krier toured the country in Bill Sweet’s National Airshow, where he remained until his death in a test flight accident in 1971.
The post-war period brought rapid innovation in all aspects of aviation, including aerobatic competition, thanks in part to Antique Airplane Association (AAA) and APM founder Robert Taylor. Krier claimed top prizes in the AAA Aerobatic Championships in 1958 through 1960, with the trophy retired in his name in 1966, the same year the Chipmunk appeared with the US team in international competition in Moscow.
Krier realized that to compete internationally, he needed a slick monoplane. Enter the Chipmunk…with serious modifications.
He clipped and metalized the Chipmunk’s wings, lengthened the ailerons, redesigned the tail, beefed up the airframe and hung a 200-hp Ranger engine on the nose. The first aerobatic monoplane to represent the USA in international competition was born, and the innovations in Krier’s Super Chipmunk set the standard for most future competition monoplanes.
Considering the huge amount of engineering that went into creating the Super Chipmunk, it’s a credit to Krier’s love of aerobatics that he gave away all the modification data to anyone who wanted to copy it.
Art Scholl and Skip Volk gladly took up his offer and kept the Super Chipmunk in the game long after Krier’s death at age 49.