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HOUSE of BALSA PIETENPOL AIRPLANE KIT
Wingspan: 65"

Pietenpol Air Camper

The Pietenpol Air Camper is a simple parasol wing homebuilt aircraft designed by Bernard H. Pietenpol. The first prototype that became the Air Camper was built and flown by Pietenpol in 1928.

During the Great Depression Bernard Pietenpol wanted desperately to fly, but could not afford to buy a plane. So he built his own, a simple wood and fabric monoplane powered by a Model A Ford engine. When the "Experts" in the Modern Mechanics magazine declared such a plane could not fly, he piloted his home-made masterpiece to their Minneapolis headquarters and proved them wrong. Impressed by the plane’s clever design and gentle flying characteristics, they subsequently published his plans in their Flying and Glider Manual. Over the next years thousands of copies were built, and they are still being crafted worldwide today.

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The Air Camper was designed to be built of spruce and plywood. One of Pietenpol's goals was to create a plane that was affordable and easy to construct for home builders. Building an Air Camper requires basic woodworking skills and tools. Builders also need to fabricate some metal fittings to attach the wooden parts together. Some welding is required. The plans for the Pietenpol Aircamper were originally published in a four part serial in the "Flying and Glider" Manual of 1932-33.

The original model was flown using an Ace four cylinder water-cooled engine. The Model A Ford engine later became the standard powerplant used. Other engines have also been used including the Ford Model T, Ford V8, Velie, Kinner, Lycoming, Franklin, Continental and Chevrolet Corvair.

In the 1960s BH Pietenpol began to favor converted engines from the Chevrolet Corvair automobiles. The Corvair engine was smoother, stronger and significantly lighter in weight compared to the Model A. The length of a Pietenpol varies with the engine choices, as engines that are lighter than the Ford's need to be mounted further out from the firewall for weight and balance reasons. Over the years over 30 different engines have flown in the Pietenpol Air Camper. Many modern Pietenpol builders prefer Continental A65, C85 or C90 powerplants.

Pietenpol Sky Scout

BH Pietenpol also designed and published plans for a single-seat version of the aircraft named the Pietenpol Sky Scout, which was slightly smaller and was powered by the Ford Model T engine. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, this was less expensive than the Model A used in the Air Camper.

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The Sky Scout was a lower cost follow-on to the Pietenpol's first homebuilt design, the Pietenpol Air Camper. Using a lower cost Ford Model T engine, rather than the more current Ford Model A engine of the time. The aircraft was redesigned for the heavier, lower power engine by reducing it to a single person aircraft. The new pilot location required a section called a "flop" to be installed, essentially a section of the wing that was hinged up to allow the pilot to stand up when getting into and out of the aircraft.

The aircraft was designed to be built of spruce and plywood. The drawings were published in the 1933 Mechanix Illustrated magazine.

The Build: CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE...

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