Saturday, September 6th saw the completion of a year-long project by a pair of local Eagle Scouts to restore a vintage airway beacon tower at Brodhead Airport, and build a replica generator shed.
Several years ago, EAA Chapter 431 acquired an original airway beacon from member Chris Price. These airway beacons were used in the 1920’s and 30’s as a primitive but effective navigation aid to pilots on the fledgling air mail and airline routes of the day. Typically placed at the top of a 51 ft. tower at intervals of approximately 20 miles, pilots would follow these beacons between major cities. One of these beacons was just north of Brodhead in Decatur township, on the Chicago to St. Paul route. Local farmers recall firing up the generator and lighting the beacon every night and also mowing the grass runway at “Government Airfield”.
An original, decommissioned tower for our beacon was obtained from an airport in the region, and local Eagle Scout candidate Sebastian Adams set out to restore and put up the tower as part of a new airport memorial. Another Eagle Scout candidate, Holden Whitledge planned to build a replica generator shed to house a historical display and other artifacts for the airway beacon.
On Saturday, August 23rd, the generator shed was put up by Whitledge and a team of scouts. The previous week, Alpine Ready-Mix of Brodhead donated the concrete foundations. The weekend of the MAAC Grassroots fly-in, the restored tower was erected by a team of scouts and generous crane services donation by Carter Machine of Monroe.
Front row, Todd Staffon, Mike Fitters, Mike Visger, Bailey Hawkins, Sebastian Adams and Bryce Hammon. Back row: Bob Hawkins, Brian Law, John Adams and Levi Visger.
In the spring, landscaping will be completed and a memorial to Brodhead Airport members will be dedicated.
Here’s a timelapse video of the tower work on Sept. 6th:
The annual EAA Chapter 431 picnic will be Sunday, September 21st, 2014, from noon until whenever in the Chapter Pavillion. We will once again have brats, hot dogs, and chicken breasts for sandwiches along with chips and drinks. Please bring a dish to pass to complete our menu.
Take the time out to attend our chapter picnic, see the progress on the beacon tower and review our fly-in season along with our other projects and share your flying adventures too! We still need your input and observations on the latest illustrations of the planned new chapter building.
I thank all of YOU that volunteered at the Pietenpol and MAAC fly-ins. Many attendees expressed their appreciation and gratitude to our organization for making the fly-ins happen. I received nothing but praise for the volunteers. Your volunteerism is a major component of EAA 431’s successful mission!
The 2014 Midwest Antique Airplane Association “Grassroots” fly-in was another well-attended event, helped out by fantastic weather on Saturday and Sunday. Friday’s clouds and rain never quite got out of the way for early arrivals but the weekend more than made up for it.
We’re estimating around 170 airplanes flew in and the RV and car parking lots were pretty full on Saturday as well. The usual Sunday morning exodus for home was even delayed with the perfect weather keeping a dozen or more planes on the field by mid-Sunday afternoon.
On Saturday, August 15th, a team of Boy Scouts and airport volunteers poured the cement foundations for the airway beacon tower and nearby equipment shed. The shed will be used for a memorial and interpretive display of the beacon tower. The first section of the tower structure is in place and the upper sections are nearly ready to go up.
PLEASE NOTE: The MAAC Grassroots Fly-In is a private event for members of the Midwest Antique Airplane Club. All attendees, whether flying or driving in, must be members of MAAC. For information on joining, please contact MAAC president, Jay Baeten.
Chapter 431 member Roy Spach has completed the mandated 40 hours of flight testing on his Kitfox project. From Roy:
Flew the first time on 6/13 and then every sunny day thereafter. Completed phase I testing on 7/20. Haven’t stopped smiling since. What a blast! Could not have done it without the massive amount of advice, help and encouragement from all the guys in the neighborhood, especially Gene, Si and Matt. Heartfelt thanks to all.
The 2014 Pietenpol/Hatz fly-in was another successful one, with nearly 20 Pietenpols from all around the country and even one from Winnipeg, Canada. We counted 11 Hatz Biplanes, which is about double from last year.
Thank to all who attended and made the effort to fly to Brodhead Airport. We enjoyed having you!
Information on parking, camping, lodging, food, potties, fly-by patterns and so on are on the page, updated for 2014. Activities specific to the Brodhead Pietenpol Association or the Hatz Club are not posted at this time.
Check back for updates and if you still have questions about anything at the event, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brodhead Airport attracts fans from all over the world, and in recent years, Hans and Sam Gautschi from Switzerland have kept in touch with the Hatz Biplane they are building and even attended the annual Hatz fly-in in July. Yesterday, member Gene Calkins received the following message:
Do you remember us? We met us at Brodhead and built a Waco styled Hatz with a Rotec radial engine, which we finished this Spring. Now, we are pleased to tell you and the Brodhead airport community, that Sam made a successful first flight on June 11 at 745 p.m.! Sam did an amazing job with just his about 160 hours flight experience in his pocket! Everything went well and the Hatz flies beautifully! A video on youtube will follow a.s.p. We are very happy with our Hatz and thanks to the late Mehlin Smith, who showed us that a modification to the already well basic design is worth and can be successfully accomplished.
We hope to return to Brodhead for the Hatz meeting next year, but unfortunately cannot take the Hatz with us!
Please find some pictures attached.
Hans & Sam, Switzerland
Chapter 431 member Dave Waller sent some pictures of his Pietenpol Aircamper project along with some information:
I started making ribs April of 2012. I got a beat up jig from the chapter and rebuilt it. Then I started on empennage and now I have just about all of the wood parts made except for the spars, leading and trailing edges. I am going to have to rework some parts so that statement is not quite accurate but today I hope to have the parts made to bolt the struts to the fuselage for the center wing section.
I am going to use a Corvair motor and some components from William Wynn to make it an airplane motor. I am trying to make every part myself, which drives my friends with more skills and better shops nuts, but it is my goal.