The Pietenpol is the plane that started it all. It's importance to the homebuilt aircraft culture cannot be overemphasized. You will notice that she is of a particular type known as a Parasol, that is a high wing aircraft with only struts attaching the wing to the fuselage. This is a plane for pilots who love open cockpit flying.
Bernard H. Pietenpol was born in 1901 and died in 1984. He quite literally lived through the rise of the airplane and especially during the Golden Years of flight between WWI and WWII. For the better part of his life he lived in Cherry Grove Minnesota.
In 1928 Mr. Pietenpol built and flew his prototype the Pietenpol Air Camper. The first plane was designed to fly with an Ace water cooled engine. Many early Piet's flew with ford Model A and Model T engines. More recent Piet's fly with a variety of aircraft and automobile engines; I’m told that Bernard favored the Chevy Corvair engine. Like most aircraft of the period she was designed to fly in and out of unimproved fields and pastures and she is good at it.
|Corvair Powered Piet "BP's Last Original".|
Among her other qualities the Piet is designed to be built by anybody. Her materials are spruce, plywood, and cloth just as God intended. Her introduction sparked the homebuilt aircraft craze that still endures today. She is relatively easy to build and especially enjoyable to those who like working with wood. Because she can be built out of common materials she is a fairly affordable aircraft to build and own. She definetely belongs on my list of aircraft for the next century.
Her flying qualities are suitable for a student tail dragger (conventional) pilot. She has two seats so it's a great plane to learn in and to give rides to young people. Her max speed is 100 mph which is pretty darn good for an open cockpit strut braced plane that only stalls at 35 mph.
Last but certainly not least. The Pietenpol designs have been built and loved for a very long time this means she has a very massive support community. The importance of community in flying cannot be overemphasized. We cannot rely on the government or manufacturers to pull private flying out of the death spiral it's in. In the end we must rely on one another and our boundless love of flight.