I took a few minutes today to update a story I wrote last year on the influence of B.H. Pietenpol. It would be very hard for me to overstate how much I respect the life of this man. To me, he is on the same plateau in aviation as Armstrong and Lindbergh. He didn’t fly to the moon or even across the Atlantic, but he made an enormous contribution to the ability of working Americans to claim their rightful place in the sky. That is something to remain very thankful for.
Below the picture is an excerpt from the story. Click on this link to read the whole story:
“10 years ago, after a particularly trying week at Oshkosh, Grace had the wisdom to understand that we had to go find something we had misplaced, something that our industry had long forgotten. The drive from Oshkosh to Cherry Grove is about 250 miles, but it takes about 60 years to get there, in the sense that you need to go back in time to get “there.” We spent a few hours in Cherry Grove. Dave Mensink, Grace and myself were the only living people there, but it didn’t feel lonely. We stood on the field where Bernard had 70 years before, laid claim on his right to a piece of the sky. For the next 3 or 4 decades that followed, nearly every guy in homebuilding was a working class guy, and damn proud of it. Along the way, homebuilding got careless and allowed some new people to suggest that the people who invented this were no longer what it was about. If you are a working guy, and you’re struggling to imagine how you are going to build a plane, have no worries. You have a lot in common with the Patron Saint of Homebuilding, and in this arena, that is the only currency that counts. -ww”
This is a single point collection of stories that have appeared individually in the last two years on this site. It is easy for me to update this as we add new stories of flying planes, I can jump back and add them to this list.
The next time anyone questions if planes have really ever flown on Corvairs ( Yes, even at places like Oshkosh, when we are standing in front of a row of Corvair powered planes, people who are actually EAA members will walk up and tell you with certainty why no one has nor will ever fly a Corvair), you can just send them a link to this collection of stories.
Above, an airborne shot of Brodhead WI, center of gravity of the Pietenpol building community. This was taken by Grace in 2006. She was in the front seat of “The Last Original“, Bernard Pietenpol’s last personal aircraft, of course Corvair powered. Beyond being the father of Corvair aircraft power and the first man to fly the engine, I hold the Bernard Pietenpol is the patron saint of working homebuilders. By all accounts a well mannered and humble man, he simply refused to accept the argument that flying was reserved for the wealthy. He was no other man’s line boy, and he was not going to settle for being a spectator. He knew his place was In the Arena, and he accepted nothing less. Neither should you.