‘Grassroots’ Fly-In 2023 at Brodhead

Midwest Antique Airplane Club 'Grassroots' fly-in Brodhead, WI 7-10 September. By Nigel Hitchman

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Every September, the MAAC Midwest Antique Airplane Club holds its private, invitation-only grassroots fly-in in Brodhead, Wisconsin, hosted by EAA Chapter 431, the “Cheeseland Chapter.” An abundance of antique airplanes arriving early in the morning, a pancake breakfast, a beautiful backdrop, camaraderie, period clothing, and airplane talk all bring you back to the ‘good ol’ days.’

Midwest Antique Airplane Club ‘Grassroots’ fly-in Brodhead, Wisconsin, 7-10 September 2023.

By Nigel Hitchman

We had another excellent MAAC fly-in in 2023 at the wonderful Brodhead airport, hosted by EAA chapter 431 and Hawk-Aire, the owners of Brodhead airport. Weather on Thursday and Friday was poor in some areas and cloudy at Brodhead, preventing some people from arriving and making for dull photographs, but was excellent on Saturday, which proved a very busy day. Overall I think they counted 215 visiting aircraft, which were joined by many interesting aircraft out of the hangars on the airfield and a couple from the excellent Kelch Aviation museum on the field.

The highlights for many was seeing Walt Bowe’s newly restored Waco 9 flying, mostly flown by Chris Price who completed the restoration together with Jay Berendes after Walt acquired the project from Bob Howie’s estate. It was great to see it flying with the Curtiss Jenny from Poplar Grove museum and also with Ryan Lihs’ New Standard D-25, which Ted Davis just finished restoring at his workshop nearby.

Two New Standard D-25s, with Walt Bowe’s red-on-silver Waco 9 in the background.

Three original Waco Taperwings on the field were also quite something, with Josh Brownell’s Gipsy Air Tours example joined by two owned by Walt Bowe, which are in transit to California (one was already there by the Ala Doble fly-in 3 weeks later). These were also joined by a fourth homebuilt Taperwing, now owned by Ron Johnson from nearby Poplar Grove.

There were many other Wacos present, probably the most popular by manufacturer, but there were over 100 different aircraft types at the fly-in.

One thing that happens a lot at Brodhead is people giving rides. I’d bet there were at least 20 or 30 people who would taxi out and give rides, whether it was their good friends, or just an interested stranger who happened to start chatting. I had a ride with Charlie Keppen in his UPF-7 and in Ryan Lihs’ New Standard, and I also got to fly Dan Wegmueller’s Fairchild PT-19 and give a couple of friends visiting from England a ride. MAAC president Justin Niemyjski and his son Trevor were busy giving rides in their Waco CSO and UPF-7, and also took turns flying Ryan Lihs’ New Standard, along with several other people. Ed Lachendro must have been flying all day giving rides in his PA-11 and Dan’s Fairchild PT-19, as well as checking out the Kelch Museum’s Fleet. Dan Wilkins gave many rides in his UPF-7 and Ryan Harter was busy in his Waco ZQC-6. Les Gaskill doesn’t seem to give rides in his J-2 Cub though– he just lets other suitable qualified people fly it!

The Waco UPF-7.

Some people fly their aircraft out for the summer, coming for the Barnstormers Carnival in Ohio and a week later gathering at the Pietenpol fly-in before Oshkosh, and then leaving their aircraft in a hangar for 6 weeks and flying home after the MAAC fly-in in September. This year, Chris Buerk did that with his Command Aire 5C3 flying out from New Hampshire, as did John Machamer in his Davis D-1 from eastern Pennsylvania.

A classic biplane formation led by the Command Aire.

The Northwest Airways Waco ASO NC1826 was built in 1927 as a Waco 10 with a Curtiss OX-5 engine and sold in Canada; it later had a factory rebuild where it was converted to an ASO with a Wright J-5 Whirlwind which it has today. It later came back to the US and was restored by Northwest pilot Dan Neuman in the Northwest colours and flown by him and his son for a number of years, then sold to Walt Bowe earlier in 2023. It had just arrived at Brodhead the week before flown, by Andrew King from South Carolina, where Dan Neuman, Jr. had it based.

NR273Y is the Howard DGA-6 “Mr Mulligan” replica built by Jim Younkin, now owned and flown by Doug Rozendaal. The original Mr Mulligan was designed to win the Bendix Trophy long distance race, which it did in 1935 and that year also won the Thompson Trophy closed circuit pylon race. It’s the only aircraft ever to win both the major races in the same year.

Doug Rozendaal’s replica Howard racer, Mr Mulligan.

NS81 (actually registered N81E) Stinson SR-8B was restored by Rare Aircraft a few years ago and was back with them for sale. Not long after the fly-in, it was sold to an owner in Brazil.

The Stinson Reliant, now living in Brazil.

NC16262 Aeronca LB was one of two that Jack Tiffany started restoring in the late 2000s. After he passed away in 2012, the projects were continued by Paul Workman, culminating in this LB, now owned by Jim Hammond and flying again in 2018. Andrew King flew it to Oshkosh 2018, where it was Reserve Grand Champion for Antiques. With some engine issues on the rare LeBlond, it was left at Brodhead. The engine issues were resolved, but as it’s such a nice place for it, it has remained here ever since.

NC20723 Rearwin Sportster was bought by Jim Hammond to get the LeBlond engine for his Aeronca LB, but he liked flying it and they ended up getting another engine. A few years later, he donated it to the Kelch museum. Here its being flown by Hannah Schickles, who is being checked out in it. Hannah came to the museum to do a school work experience, knowing nothing about aircraft or aviation, got interested, stayed as a volunteer and eventually an employee, and then learned to fly. She is now doing a full time commercial pilot university course, but was back to her roots for the fly-in.

N707S is a Czech-built Aero C.104 Jungmann, converted with a Lycoming engine. This aircraft was built in 1948 and exported to the U.S. in 1959. It was owned for many years by famous Czech aerobatic pilot Mira Slovak, who had defected by flying an airliner from Prague to Frankfurt in 1953.

C-GKAX is a Beech D18S with a Volpar tri-gear conversion that spent its recent years in Alaska and Hawaii as N766L, but is now based in Ontario.

The MAAC Fly-In is just a great fly-in, really relaxed and informal, no judging, no awards, minimal charge, and with great comradery. Even the food is pretty good and reasonably priced! Aircraft start arriving Thursday afternoon, and there is usually a good turnout of interesting visitors by Thursday evening and a lot of local flying. This continues on Friday, and on Saturday, there are a lot of visitors who just come for the day, including many interesting antique aircraft from Poplar Grove, Illinois, which is not too far away. Sunday morning is packing up and going home, and by lunchtime most of the visitors are gone.



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