Monday, July 28, 2008

Hopgrasser II

My first Pietenpol Aircamper memories are from the 1970's Antique Airplane Association fly-in's at Antique Airfield in Blakesburg, IA. I can recall rides in a Model "A" Ford powered one and others powered by a Continental and one Radial Engine one. I was just a kid and don't recall the N-numbers or the pilots. I wish I could, because those memories stuck with me. In 1986, I was given a copy of the 1929 Flying and Glider Manual by my friend, the late "Sid" Hess. This was while I was in A&P school. This little airplane has endured the ages. Designer Bernard Pietenpol intended this to be an affordable way to get into flying. Many configurations of engines have been used over the years. I decided this was going to be the least expensive way for me to have my own flying airplane. I got started and built about 5 ribs and even used my rib-jig as a school project. Sid later gave me a full set of plans for the "improved" Air Camper, signed by the original draftsman, Orrin Hoopman. Life circumstances curtailed my progress.

I did not get another boost for 10 years until I met Chuck Gantzer. What a great guy. Chuck has done what most of us dream of. Certainly he has been a boost to many aspiring Pietenpol builders. At least for me he has. With a renewed inspiration, I built another dozen or so ribs. But again, life priorities over shadowed my efforts. Then in 2003, I located a partially completed project and ended up going into ownership of the project on the halves with my father in law. We agreed to use a Continental A75 engine and this airplane inevitably will be named Hopgrasser II after the beloved family "Champ". This little Air Camper project has quite a background of more than 40 years. It was initially started in the 1960's and passed down a generation to Mr. Richard Hugely. Here are some photos taken August 3, 2003, the day we took delivery from Richard.

Check this link for our project details:

I will post more in the future. Progress has been slow. But what a joy. The kids have participated as well. Here's one of Travis and Hannah helping on the day we installed instruments.

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