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Event Report
Event Reports - EAA AirVenture 2007

Friday, July 20 - Brodhead WI Fly-In
EAA AirVenture 2007
Created: 07/18/2007
Updated: 07/25/2007
Link(s): N/A
Article by Mike Whaley
For those who are into antique and vintage airplanes, the annual gathering at the Brodhead, WI airport on the weekend before Oshkosh is a warm up for the big event up in Oshkosh. For many folks, Brodhead IS the main event. This gathering almost defies description, or even belief. There's no admission fees, the distance to your parking spot is measured in yards rather than miles, and you will have open access to absorb one of the most incredible collection of vintage airplanes, engines, and other "neat stuff" to be found anyplace on Earth. While the event is known as the home of the reunion for Pietenpol and Hatz enthusiasts, to describe it as a type club convention or to focus only on those planes would miss the point entirely. True, it's the most concentrated gathering of Piets and Hatz's you'll ever find, but even the owners of those planes don't come here just to show off to other owners. Stepping onto the Brodhead airport is truly a step back in time. Not just because of the vast array of vintage and antique planes to be found there, though. The entire place is filled with the romance, the goodness, the easy-going nature of a small country airport where it will always be 1929, regardless of the modern planes that stop in to visit and the late-model cars in the parking lot. Brodhead is a place where a high percentage of the hangars are filled with irreplaceable treasures from aviation's past... planes, engines, obscure projects, memorabilia, replicas... you name it, it's there. Yet these folks think nothing of throwing open the hangar doors and inviting folks to wader on in and absorb it. There aren't fences, chains, or security guards, just an innate trust that people still respect and appreciate these things as the treasures they are. Rather than metal detectors, you enter through a gap in a white picket fence, and instantly know that that despite all the bad stuff going on in the world, that this is one place where things truly are as they ought to be. It's a place where the romance and excitement that defined the formative years of aviation never gave way to a cold obsession with efficiency and practicality. It's a place where merely visiting signals that you are a friend and kindred spirit with those around you. The only comparison I've ever been able to make to describe it is to imagine the movie "Field of Dreams" and replace baseball with aviation, and you get some idea of what kind of place Brodhead is. May it always be so.

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Does your airport have a sign this nice to welcome visitors? Brodhead has two... both hand-carved.  
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This 1935 Rearwin Sportster gave several rides throughout the weekend. This plane is immaculately restored and based at Brodhead.  
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Start 'em off early!! This cute little pilot just couldn't get enough of flying her plane around the place.  
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Frank Pavliga's Pietenpol "Sky Gypsy" has given countless rides over quite a few years. Frank gets the Young Eagles to commemorate their ride by signing the side of the plane... an awesome idea. Way to go, Frank!  
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Dick Navratil's Piet is not *quite* finished yet, but should fly by the fall. The logo is made of thin plywood.  
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Dick wanted the look of fine leather, so Polyfiber made up a special batch of color coat for him. With a bit of technique with the spray gun, he managed to create the effect he was looking for... it really looks awesome!  
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Many homebuilders can relate to this scene...  
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In this age of pre-fab, quick-build, cookie-cutter "homebuilts", we think it's important to remember that there is no part of an airplane that you can't create yourself, if you want to do it. Dale Johnson shows off a homebuilt scimitar prop made with vertical laminations of thin plywood. (This beautiful item is actually a display-only test piece made with cheap materials, but the next one from this mold will fly on his plane.)  
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Some folks have more planes than space. In this case, rather than move the plane, the owner built the workshop at the back of his hangar around the plane being stored. Come to think of it, that might have been the only alternative...  
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Whether this is more practical or whimsical, it's definitely a conversation starter.  
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Paul Poulin flew his all-wood Piet on a 20 flight hour trip from Canada. Even the struts on "Canadian Goose" are made from hardwood. Very nice!  
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This one-off design is called the "Big Floater"... it's sort of a two-seat, steel-fuselage MiniMax. Power comes from a 65hp Continental.  
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This Aeronca C-2 trained countless aviators. It is small, low-powered, and primitive, and flying it has been described as piloting a blowing leaf, yet you can't help but smile when you see one.  
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Yes, friends who can give you a start by hand are good to have. Brodhead is full of folks who are very practiced in this skill.  
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The return of the Fokker Scourge?  
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This Aeronca L-Bird flew a bit...  
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The Hatz guys were having a great time as well. This one was built by Mehlin Smith, and is based at Brodhead. It is powered with a Warner Scarab radial engine, which gives the plane plenty of power as well as makes it look like it was built in the 1930s.  
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I got a ride in Mehlin's plane (as did many, many people throughout the weekend... the plane was flying far more than sitting!) The view out front is actually not too bad. I was VERY glad I had brought a set of foam earplugs though... it was pretty loud without them!  
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Brodhead airport, as seen just after liftoff. It features three well-kept grass runways.  
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The southern Wisconsin countryside is beautiful... the perfect setting for flying around in a classic airplane.  
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This is the original Hatz prototype... still flying nearly 40 years after completion!  
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Another nice Hatz.  
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This is the "light sport" Hatz featured in Sport Aviation a little while back. This is one of the most perfectly-executed planes I've ever seen.  
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There's no way that a photo can really capture how neat, clean, and just downright "right" this particular airplane is in every aspect you could see. This flavor of the Hatz came by it honestly... it was designed and built by the son of the original Hatz's designer.  
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As the sun set, the already relaxed atmosphere got even more laid back as folks ate dinner and the flying gradually gave way to even more socializing. These geese seemed to be casually checking out the festivities... it sure sounded like honks of approval to me.  
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Time machines really do exist... is it 1929 or 2007?  

Other entries in this series:
      » Friday, July 20 - Brodhead WI Fly-In    July 20, 2007
     Saturday, July 21 - Brodhead WI Fly-In    July 21, 2007
     Sunday, July 22 - Setup Day    July 22, 2007
     Monday, July 23    July 23, 2007
     Tuesday, July 24    July 24, 2007
     Wednesday, July 25    July 25, 2007
     Thursday, July 26    July 26, 2007
     Friday, July 27    July 27, 2007
     Friday, July 27 - Biplane Cookout    July 27, 2007
     Saturday, July 28    July 28, 2007
     Sunday, July 29    July 29, 2007

If you have any additions or corrections to this item, please let us know.

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