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ABSTRACT:     Article Covering the 1998 inductees into both the Homebuilder's Hall of Fame and the NAFI Hall of Fame. Homebuilders inducted included Curtis Pitts, Burt Rutan, and Bill Warwick. NAFI inductees included Joe Vorbeck, Bill Kershner, and Marvin Easter.
EAA Honors Sport Aviation's Greats
EAA and NAFI Halls of Fame induct new members
 
(From Sport Aviation, 12/1998, Page 26)
 
The 1998 EAA Hall of Fame ceremonies took place in the Eagle Hangar of the EAA Air Adventure Museum.
The 1998 EAA Hall of Fame ceremonies took place in the Eagle Hangar of the EAA Air Adventure Museum.

EAA President Tom Poberezny was master of ceremonies for the 1998 Hall of Fame inductions and an inductee, himself.
EAA President Tom Poberezny was master of ceremonies for the 1998 Hall of Fame inductions and an inductee, himself.

On the evening of Friday, October 23, [1998] EAA's annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies were held in the Eagle Hangar of the EAA Air Adventure Museum at Oshkosh. Since 1987, 56 legends from the worlds of homebuilding, aerobatics, vintage aircraft, warbirds and flight instruction have been honored for lifetime achievements in their chosen fields. Thirteen new honorees were inducted this year and have had their names added to the plaques in the EAA Hall of Fame gallery in the Air Adventure Museum.

Inductees in the EAA Homebuilders and NAFI (National Association of Flight Instructors) Halls of Fame will be recognized this month, followed by the IAC and Warbirds of America inductees in January.

HOMEBUILDER'S HALL OF FAME

EAA HOMEBUILDER'S HALL OF FAME
Previous Inductees
1993 George Bogardus
Paul Poberezny
Steve Wittman
1994 Bob Burbick
Bernie Pietenpol
Ray Stits
1995 Tony Bingelis
Molt Taylor
John Thorp
1996 Sam Burgess
Nick D'Apuzzo
Ed Heath
Volmer Jensen
1997 Harold Best-Devereux
William Ghan
Ladislao Pazmany

Curtis Pitts, left, and Phil Quigley with Little Stinker and the Pitts Pellet racer.
Curtis Pitts, left, and Phil Quigley with Little Stinker and the Pitts Pellet racer.

Curtis Pitts

CURTIS PITTS

Curtis Pitts of Homestead, Florida designed the airplane that brought the United States to the top of the world of competition aerobatics for the first time. In 1972, when Charlie Hillard became the first American to become World Aerobatic Champion, he was flying a Pitts Special. It was the first homebuilt aircraft to be used to win the title.

1930 - 15-year-old Curtis Pitts and his first airplane, the first airplane made in Americus, Georgia.
1930 - 15-year-old Curtis Pitts and his first airplane, the first airplane made in Americus, Georgia.

Curtis designed and built his first airplane while still in high school and, later, armed with knowledge gained through a correspondence course in mechanical engineering, designed and built the prototype of what would become the Pitts Special. The second example built, Betty Skelton's legendary Little Stinker, would be seen in airshows on two continents and would capture the hearts of all in aviation. When Curtis made plans available to homebuilders, the tiny biplane was built in large numbers and was one of the most numerous designs displayed each year at the EAA Conventions at Rockford and Oshkosh.

Earlier in his career, while still operating a crop dusting service, a mechanics school, an approved repair station and a small airport, Curtis had also designed and built several Goodyear class (now Formula One) racers and the mighty Sampson air show biplane. In the late 1960s, with the runaway success of the Pitts Special, he was able to devote full time to designing, building and certifying the two-place Pitts, which was to quickly become one of the most popular advanced aerobatic trainers worldwide, as well as a highly capable competition aircraft in its own right. The single place Pitts Special was also certified and both were manufactured under Curtis' direction at Afton, Wyoming until he finally sold the company and retired.

In recent years, Curtis has come out of retirement to design a new series of high performance aerobatic biplanes just to prove that the configuration can still be competitive with the world's best.

Burt Rutan

BURT RUTAN

Aircraft homebuilding had been popular as a hobby literally since the days of the Wright brothers, but it was Burt Rutan who elevated the activity to the cutting edge of lightplane technology. The loaded canard he perfected on his VariViggen and VariEze/Long-EZ designs gave homebuilders a series of high performance aircraft without the susceptibility to stalls and spins of conventionally configured aircraft with higher wing loadings and his moldless composite construction method made it easy and affordable for individual builders to create natural laminar flow airframes that provided greater performance for a given amount of power. VariEzes and Long-EZs were built in large numbers, and similarly configured spinoffs by other developers continue to be popular today.

An echelon of Burt Rutan designs. From bottom to top: VariViggen, LongEZ, Defiant and Starship.
An echelon of Burt Rutan designs. From bottom to top: VariViggen, LongEZ, Defiant and Starship.

The ultimate application of Burt's loaded canard and composite construction methods was the Voyager, purpose designed and purpose built to fly around the world non-stop without refueling. When Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager set out on their historic and ultimately successful circumnavigation of the earth, they were aboard the only aircraft ever designed and built that was efficient enough to complete such a flight. Today, 12 years after the flight, that statement is still true.

One for the history books -- the Burt Rutan-designed Voyager.
One for the history books -- the Burt Rutan-designed Voyager.

Another highly significant contribution Burt made to the world of aircraft homebuilding was his simplified, step-by-step cookbook approach to aircraft building instructions, rather than traditional blueprints. It changed forever the way building instruction manuals were written and opened up the hobby to people who had not had technological training of any sort, which is the vast majority today.

Burt Rutan's Grizzly, an R&D aircraft used to determine the feasibility of flaps on a canard aircraft.
Burt Rutan's Grizzly, an R&D aircraft used to determine the feasibility of flaps on a canard aircraft.

Burt Rutan was the first to use the experience and reputation he gained in the EAA world as a springboard to the more complex arena of aerospace design, development and manufacturing. Today, the company he heads is involved in some of the most daring, innovative aerospace concepts society is yet privileged to know about and there is much more to come!

Bill Warwick in 1960 with the EAA Outstanding Design Award he won for his Tiny Champ.
Bill Warwick in 1960 with the EAA Outstanding Design Award he won for his Tiny Champ.

BILL WARWICK

Bill Warwick was an aviation professional who was employed by Northrop Aircraft for 36 years and ultimately retired as manager of the company's engineering test lab. During the course of that career, he was involved in many of Northrop's highly secret black projects, including the Stealth Bomber, but on his own time he was the quintessential EAA member and homebuilder.

The final version of Bill Warwick's Tiny Champ. Those were the days (1950s and early 1960s) of a lot of one-off original designs - something we see much less of today.
The final version of Bill Warwick's Tiny Champ. Those were the days (1950s and early 1960s) of a lot of one-off original designs - something we see much less of today.

Bill's first homebuilt design, the Tiny Champ, won EAA's Outstanding Design Award in 1960, and in 1964 he completed the very first Thorp T-18. He later converted the design from its original open cockpit, exposed cylinder configuration to the fully cowled, bubble canopied high performance machine that all subsequent EAAers would build. Bill's version of the T-18, which would be adapted and further refined by designer John Thorp, was the first of a whole new generation of high performance sportplanes that would create new respect for the homebuilt airplane and would usher in a great surge of growth for EAA.

In the late 1960s Bill designed and built the Hot Canary Biplane Class racer and won a number of races in it in the early 1970s. It now hangs in a place of honor in the lobby of the EAA Aviation Center in Oshkosh. Bill subsequently designed and built the single-place Bantam, for which he sold plans for many years, and built the Formula One racers Fang and Mr. Robinson.

1964 - Bill Warwick and his N9675Z, the first T-18 ever completed. Turbulence was so bad in the open cockpit that he never flew the airplane at full throttle. A bubble canopy and gear leg fairings were retrofitted, resulting in the high performance T-18.
1964 - Bill Warwick and his N9675Z, the first T-18 ever completed. Turbulence was so bad in the open cockpit that he never flew the airplane at full throttle. A bubble canopy and gear leg fairings were retrofitted, resulting in the high performance T-18.

Bill Warwick's last project, a stunning Cosmic Wind.
Bill Warwick's last project, a stunning Cosmic Wind.

Long involved in EAA Chapter activity in the Los Angeles area and, after retirement, in Arizona, Bill was a technical counselor at the time of his death in 1994.


FLIGHT INSTRUCTORS HALL OF FAME

NAFI HALL OF FAME
Previous Inductees
1997 James Pete Campbell
Bernard Geier
Evelyn Johnson

JOE VORBECK

Joe Vorbeck, known as Mr. Instrument Flying to his friends, was highly respected among his students and peers for his dedication and voracious appetite for aviation knowledge.

A native of Rochester, NY, Joe joined the Marines at 17 and returned home after four years to obtain an engineering degree at Cornell University. He then joined the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant and served for five years as a paratrooper and expert at troop insertion and supply. Too tall at 6' 7 to fly in the military service, he learned to fly on his own and obtained a flight instructor rating.

After teaching aviation at the University of Illinois, Joe accepted a position as Chairman of General Aviation Technology at Purdue University in 1964. While at Purdue, he implemented the weekend seminars program. These important courses provided private, instrument and commercial pilots with three days of the latest aviation instruction and training.

Joe co-founded the National Association of Flight Instructors and was NAFI's first president. In 1987 he moved to Ohio where he co-founded Sporty's Academy, produced educational aviation videos and helped establish the University of Cincinnati's flight training program. Now deceased, his name lives on at that university in the form of the Joe Vorbeck Aviation Scholarship Fund.

Bill Kershner

BILL KERSHNER

William Bill Kershner began his flying career at the age of 15, and received his Navy wings eight years later. After flying Corsairs off the carrier Philippine Sea, he became a navigation and instrument training officer, a jet transition training officer and a chase pilot in F9F-6 Cougars.

After his military service, Bill worked at Piper Aircraft, demonstrating airplanes to various military commands, and eventually became the supervisor of experimental flight testing at Piper.

In 1969, after publishing his first book, Advanced Pilot's Flight Manual, Bill established an aerobatic and advanced instruction school. Over 500 students have completed these aerobatic courses.

In addition to his numerous flight manuals, Bill is a seasoned writer for magazines such as Private Pilot, Flying and Skyways and shares his skills with others through lectures and spin demonstrations at the University of Tennessee Space Institute, the Naval Air Test Center, the FBI Academy and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. In 1992 he received the FAA's National Instructor of the Year award.

Marvin Easter

MARVIN EASTER

Marvin Easter is a native of the Waterloo/Cedar Rapids IA area and grew up completely fascinated with aviation. One of his childhood heros was the great Johnny Livingston, the father of the Clipwing Monocoupe, once the largest Waco dealer and a local resident. Marvin earned his BA degree from Iowa State Teachers College in 1949 and learned to fly while working as an Iowa high school teacher. After earning his Private and Commercial pilot licenses in a Luscombe 8A, he became a certified flight instructor and taught flying at the Waterloo Flying Service.

Later, Marvin joined the Ohio State University Department of Aviation and would spend the next 30 years teaching ground and flight courses. He also had the opportunity to take part in numerous important research studies over the years that have been imperative to the growth of aviation. He retired in 1979, but his passion for airplanes and flying did not end there. He opened a small FBO and rebuilt such aircraft as a Cessna 140 and Piper PA-11, built a Starduster Too and, most recently, restored a prize winning Waco 10 he owns in partnership with several friends.

In 1984 flight instruction lured Marvin back to the classroom. After five years of retirement, he returned to Ohio State's Department of Aviation and is still instructing students there today.

The award winning Waco 10 owned and restored by Marvin Easter and several partners.
The award winning Waco 10 owned and restored by Marvin Easter and several partners.

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