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
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
By Douglas Rolfe
"Biddy-Buddy" 40 HP Salmson Radial. Designed and built by Rene Durenleau, Franklin,
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,
"Jupiter J-1" 65 HP Continental. Designed and built by Ken Champion, Gobles,
Stitts "Playboy" 85 HP Continental. Built by Chris Smith and Jack Housman, Holland,
"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,
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,
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,
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