The Bell Pietenpol, 3 generations of flyers


I just read a note from Shad bell where he recounted flying one of his sons in the family Pietenpol today. Shad and his father Gary started the plane many years ago, got their Corvair Going at College#7 in Ohio, and have flew the plane from Ohio to Brodhead WI, for many years. But today is the first day flying for generation #3.


I took a few minutes to comb through the files for a number of pictures of this plane. It is a special thing when a father and son share in the building and flying of a plane, but it is exceedingly rare that 3 generations get to share the spirit of building and flying. Hats off to the Bell family dynasty.



Above, Shad and the Piet in flight. Aircraft is based in Ohio. It has made a number of appearances at Brodhead. Gary and Shad came to CC#7 to get started on their engine.



Above, – 2008-  Brodhead, Wisconsin.  Gary on right,  his son Shad on the left. I am pretty sure this was the plane’s first trip to Brodhead.



2009 – Gary Bell lounges like a King, above. I like the transition from the year before. When your Pietenpol flies to Brodhead, you’re on top of the world. When you pull it off two years in a row, you own the world.



Above 2009 s a close-up of Shad Bell with the plane. The plane sports a Tennessee Prop.



Above, A great afternoon at Brodhead WI, 2009. R to L, the Piets of Gary and Shad Bell , Kurt Shipman, Randy Bush, all Corvair powered.


A 2011 photograph from Brodhead showing the Bell’s Pietenpol in the foreground. Behind it is Kevin Purtee’s aircraft from Texas, and the far slot is Dick Navratil’s Rotec radial powered Piet.

Above, 2013 – The Bell’s Pietenpol makes another trip back to Brodhead.   Randy Bush’s and Shad’s Air Campers joined Tom Brown’s Piet and Bill Knight’s Last Original at Brodhead this year. Some years at Brodhead draw more than 25 Pietenpols. 2013 was a light turnout, but Corvairs powered one-third of the Pietenpols on hand. -ww


About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at and in more than 50 magazine articles.

4 Responses to The Bell Pietenpol, 3 generations of flyers

  1. Dan Branstrom says:

    Brodhead truly captures the spirit of the roots of both pioneer aviators as well as homebuilders. You can see some amazing planes in the hangars that you can see nowhere else.

    Think of it: an airport with grass runways and lights for night landings. It is a treasure, and the people and planes are phenomenal.

    To have 3 generations that have flown in one airplane is truly an accomplishment to be proud of. The Bells have every reason to be proud.

  2. Jeff Moores says:

    I finally made it to Brodhead last year. Both myself and my wife were warmly greeted by those we talked to. I cannot make it this year but I hope to return in the future many more times. To me it is the ideal place to be. We thought it was funny when I introduced myself as the guy from Newfoundland with the Corvair powered Merlin at least three different people responded with “oh, you’re that guy!!”


  3. I think this is my favorite looking Corvair Pietenpol. The cowl is especially lovely. My wife and daughter and I attended Brodhead 2017. It was a beautiful day with even more beautiful airplanes.

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