Dick Navratil Passes from this earth, June 4th, 2015.


Greg Cardinal shared the terrible news that noted homebuilder Dick Navratil passed from this earth on June 4th. He was 66 years old.


Dick made a great place in the world of Pietenpols, building more of them than any other person I ever met. I got to know him many years ago, long before he was a Corvair builder. In the Pietenpol community, there have been, and will continue to be many people who have worked to ‘put back’ far more than they have taken, but even in a distinguished and storied list of such men, Dick’s name would be near the top.


He was a modest guy who would have cringed at anyone saying that publicly, but it doesn’t make it any less true. He was not only a prolific builder, he was a great resource of information, but most critically, he was the source of encouragement for countless builders, if he knew them well or not. In the final measure, he was just a simple easy going guy, a joy to spend time with on a sunny day at the airport.


He always left me with the distinct feeling that all the hours building in the shop would be well worth it, simply because when you were done and flew your plane somewhere, there was a possibility that when you got there, Dick would be there to greet you and make you feel welcome. I am writting this at 4am in the middle of the night, and at this moment, such a reunion seems just a flight away. In a few hours the daylight will return and it will be Sunday morning here, and all the memories of Dick will seem much further away, harder to reach, washed out and muted by the sunlight of another day.


But in the times ahead, there will be many quiet hours in the shop, alone, long after dark, where I will remember the hours spent in his company, the sound of his voice, his humor and stories, and he will not seem so far away. And in those times I will take out my collection of memories of Dick and give thanks for how much richer my life is to have known him.








From the coverage of Corvair College #30 in 2014:

“Above, my favorite photo and story from #30. On the right, Dick Navratil. These two guys worked on Dick’s engine and had a great time together. I have known Dick for 10 years (He has built 7 or 8 Pietenpols) and just assumed that the fun they were having was because they must have known each other since high school…..It took until the end of the second day for me to learn that before the first day of the college, they had never met each other. This is the kind of friendship and fun that naturally happens when two builders have the same values in a fun productive setting. The friendship these two guys struck up makes me feel the Colleges are worth all the effort put in.”


you can read the whole story at this link: Corvair College #30 Good Times




Below is the note that Greg Cardinal shared with other builders:


“Richard M. Navratil
Navratil, Richard M. Age 66, of Arden Hills. Died suddenly on June 4, 2015. Survived by wife, Joan; son, Jason (Sara) Gillet; daughter, Jen (Justin) Vojtech; grandchildren, Boone, Judah, Renley, Wyatt & Colton; siblings, Chuck Navratil, Neil Navratil, John Navratil, Mary Bergh and Anita Ziebarth; also many nieces and nephews. Mass of Christian Burial 11:00 AM Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at the CHURCH OF ST. STANISLAUS, 398 Superior Street, St. Paul. Visitation 4-8 PM Tuesday at Willwer-scheid Funeral Home, 1167 Grand Ave., St. Paul. Memorials preferred to the Wounded Warrior Project. Willwerscheid Funeral Home & Cremation Service 651-228-1006”





Above, is Dick’s best known creation, his Rotec radial powered Pietenpol. It was one of many he built. The caption below is from our Brodhead 2011 notes, where Dick let us use his plane in our Pietenpol Weight and balance project.


“For the second year in a row, we gathered data on weight and balance for a wide variety of Piets at Brodhead. The 14 aircraft that we measured last year were worked into a highly technical set of articles that ran all last year in the BPAN, This year we had a chance to pick up data on eight new aircraft that we will also publish in the newsletter. Above, Dick Navratil’s Piet sits on the electronic scales that I brought up from Florida to do this task. Special thanks to the crew of volunteers who assisted me in collecting the data. One of these people is John Schmidt of Minnesota, sitting at left above.”


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 www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

3 Responses to Dick Navratil Passes from this earth, June 4th, 2015.

  1. Harold Bickford says:

    Sad to hear that. I’d talked with him at Broadhead and was impressed that he was “just a guy” who liked building Piets despite his obvious accomplishments. Being the same age it is clear how short life can be. Back to the shop now to keep moving forward.


  2. Tom O says:

    I live in Viroqua, WI and every year we had two or three Pietenpols land and refuel on their way to Brodhead just prior to Oshkosh. This was the first year they didn’t show up and we all wondered why. I have always liked the Pietenpol and really became excited when I saw Mr. Navratil’s rotec powered piet in the sport aviation mag. Then one year it showed up at our airport. It was fun talking with those guys. Now I understand why we didn’t see them this year. I am truly sorry to hear of his passing.

  3. Charles McFarland says:

    Charlie McFarland

    I only met Dick once very briefly at Brodhead in 2011, but I just spent the entire day yesterday with Joan Navratil and bought Dick’s Rotec powered Pietenpol. Joan is doing well and shared lots of stories about Dick. She was surprised that he was so highly regarded in the flying world and had no idea about that side of his life until after he passed away and she started hearing from his many friends. The notes, cards, and calls have helped her tremendously.

    I assured Joan that even though I now own the airplane, I merely consider myself the temporary custodian and it will always will be Dick Navratil’s creation and promoted as such. I look forward to flying to different air shows, meeting Dick’s friends and hearing your stories about him.

    So, keep an eye out for NX25RN, and if you see it, please feel free to come visit the airplane and share your memories. I would love to write them down and pass them on to others.


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