by Andy Heins
According to the Oxford Dictionary, “Grassroots” /ˈɡrasˌro͞ots/ plural is defined as “the most basic level of an activity or organization: “the whole campaign would be conducted at the grassroots.” Such a definition applies perfectly to the Midwest Antique Airplane Club Grassroots Fly-In, an outstanding aviation event which takes place in the American Midwest each September.
The Midwest Antique Airplane Club, better known as the MAAC, holds its annual fly-in during the second weekend of September each year at picturesque Brodhead Airport (C78) in Brodhead, Wisconsin. Known simply as “Grassroots”, the event attracts antique and classic aircraft from all around the Midwest. The entire affair is very laid back, plus membership only costs $10! A majority of attendees camp on the field in their tents, hangars, or motorhomes. Shower and restroom facilities are available, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served each day. Friday night includes their famous Wisconsin Fish Boil, while Saturday night is the Pork Chop Dinner. There is no aircraft judging here – just lots of flying – from the Pietenpol Dawn Patrol at break of day all the way until dusk, every day.
The Midwest Antique Airplane Club (MAAC) was founded to promote interest in antique airplanes. MAAC has expanded to include all aspects of preservation, restoration, and the flying of antique and classic aircraft. The Midwest Antique Airplane Club has grown to more than 800 members from all over North America and several foreign countries. Club members restore and/or operate a wide variety of aircraft types. Honors earned by MAAC members include over a dozen National Grand Champions and numerous other high-level awards.
MAAC meetings take place quarterly; they are hosted by members at various airports in Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and central Minnesota.
Two events highlight MAAC’s yearly activities. The members-only “Grassroots Fly-In”, the major flying event, takes place annually in September at Brodhead, as already noted. The big, season-ending social gathering is the Midwest Antique Airplane Club Annual Banquet in the fall, usually held at the Holiday Inn in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. MAAC’s elected officers and directors collaborate with members in their endeavor to promote and perpetuate interest in antique and classic airplanes.
The Fly-in this year took place over the long weekend of September 8-11, with airplanes beginning to arrive on the Thursday; the count being around 90 for that day! Blue skies were on order, and the pattern seemed perpetually active. After dark, visitors can lounge around by the open campfire ring or visit the various hangar parties that are usually in full swing. The newest and best attraction on the field is the Alfred and Lois Kelch Aviation Museum, founded by Brodhead pilot Al Kelch, who kept his aircraft collection at the airport. When Al passed in September, 2004, his friends and family went into full gear to establish and build a museum on the field. With generous donations from the Kelch family, Bill and Sue Knight, and a huge contingent of Antique airplane enthusiasts, the museum has come to fruition and is absolutely worth a visit. Several additional aircraft have been donated to the Museum, as well as antique vehicles and aviation memorabilia related to pre-WWII aviation.
Friday saw a host of arrivals as well as Saturday morning. Unfortunately, the weather outlook turned unfavorable, so many people had to depart on Saturday to get home before the rain arrived, forecast to begin that evening and continue for several days. At least 200 aircraft attended this last, large event for the season, and we said our goodbyes until next year…
For more information about the Midwest Antique Airplane Club, visit www.maacgrassroots.net