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Renaissance of the "Home Built" Airplane
June 1961 American Modeler

June 1961 American Modeler

June 1961 American Modeler Cover - Airplanes and RocketsTable of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

I was surprised when I saw the byline of Douglas Rolfe for this "Renaissance of the 'Home Built' Airplane" article in a 1961 issue of American Modeler magazine in the table of contents. The title kind of implies it is an article discussing the past and present of homebuilt airplanes, but actually it is a collection of line drawings of various homebuilts, with a short narrative. The format fits with Mr. Rolfe's usual contributions with his Auto Progress and Air Progress features. One of the things he points out, which I didn't know, is that in the early 1930's the CAA (predecessor to the FAA) regulated home builders out of the air by imposing difficult to comply with rules. If history is any indicator, it was probably lobbyists hired by aircraft manufacturers paying off politicians and bureaucrats to make life hard on homebuilders. Fortunately, people like Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) founder Paul Poberenzny helped reform the system to facilitate a rebirth of homebuilders.

Renaissance of the "Home Built" Airplane

Renaissance of the "Home Built" Airplane, June 1961 American Modeler Magazine - Airplanes and RocketsBy Douglas Rolfe

"Biddy-Buddy" 40 HP Salmson Radial. Designed and built by Rene Durenleau, Franklin, Ver.

1911 CESSNA 50/60 HP Anzani Radial. Built from original Cessna specifications by Burrell Tibbs, Oklahoma City, Okla.

3/4-Scale Fokker DR.1 65 HP Continental. Designed and built by Hobart Sorrell, Rochester, Washington

"Jupiter J-1" 65 HP Continental. Designed and built by Ken Champion, Gobles, Mich.

Stitts "Playboy" 85 HP Continental. Built by Chris Smith and Jack Housman, Holland, Michigan

"Pober Sport" 85 HP Continental. Designed and built by Paul Poberenzny founder and President of the EAA

Story "Special N°1." 65 HP Continental. Designed and built by Tom Story, Beaverton, Oregon

Coser-Oonk "CO-2" 65 HP Continental. Designed and built by Joe Coser and Jack Oont, St. Louis

"Minx Capon" A-40 Continental Engine. Designed and built in 1939 but recently re-built by Cliff Dick in California

Those with long memories may recall the rash of homebuilt airplanes which swept across this country in the late twenties. Some of these little aircraft are still being built, notably the Pietenpol "Air Camper." The movement was stopped dead in its tracks when severe air regulations made it practically impossible for amateur builders to meet the strict licensing requirements.

Happily the restrictions have been considerably lessened and a whole new family of "homebuilder" are at work with either purchased plans of licensed types or their own designs. Some measure of the extent of this revival can be grasped when of 102 aircraft at a "Fly-In" of the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) 72 were home-builts!

There is a great difference In the homebuilt now appearing and those developed in the twenties. For one thing the amateur builder has a choice of excellent small aircraft engines to select from today whereas in the twenties about the only practical one available was the 30 hp Bristol "Cherub" and few could afford to buy it. Another great change is that today's homebuilt are often composed of near finished parts. One builder may use a Cub fuselage, another a Cessna landing gear and still another Ercoupe wings. But, as we show, individual designers are showing great imagination, skill and ingenuity.

Another interesting aspect of the renaissance of the homebuilts is the growing number of builders who are turning to historic designs. Witness Sorrell's 3/4 scale Fokker (there is a 3/4 scale Jenny on the way too!), the 1911 Cessna and Miller's little "Bleary Eye!" We hold that this wave of home built aircraft is one of the best things that has happened in recent years and much credit is due to the efforts of Paul Poberezny and the EAA.

Mong Sport "Mighty Mong" Continental 65 Engine. Built by G. Courton, East Moline, Ill.

Story-Bowers Continental A-75 Built by Pete Bowers, Seattle, Wash.

Modified "Baby Ace" Continental A-65-8. Builty by J. E. Rogers and C. D. Grow, Fall River, Mass.

Baker MB-1 Continental L-85. Designed and built by Marion Baker, Carlisle, Ohio

EAA Biplane designed and built by students of St. Rita's high School, Chicago Ill. Still in test stage

Levi "Monsoon" This sleek little 2-seater is the brainchild of Renato Levi and EAA member residing in Bombay, India.

Bryan Roadable Continental A-75. Designed and built by L.D. Bryan, Holland, Mich.

Kirk-Didonna "Miss Flit" 40 HP Continental. Modified and built by John Didonna, Carmichael, California

Miller "Bleary Eye" 65 Continental. Designed and built as a lark by Tom Miller, Van Wert, Ohio, it resembles and ancient Bleriot



Posted January 14, 2023

About Airplanes & Rockets 

Kirt Blattenberger, Webmaster - Airplanes and RocketsKirt Blattenberger

Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day!)

Even during the busiest times of my
life I have endeavored to maintain
some form of model building activity.
This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which all began in Mayo, MD ...

Copyright 1996 - 2030

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