Q: What’s Better Than Old Airplanes?

A: Old HOMEBUILT Airplanes!
The Antique Airplane Association’s Legacy Log of Homebuilt Aircraft

by Ed Leineweber

Well, it took me 41 years to get there, but I finally made it to the Antique Airplane Association’s (AAA) annual fly-in at Antique Airfield near Blakesburg, Iowa. Believe me, it won’t be another eon before I get back. The unbeatable combination of old airplanes, hangars full of old aircraft projects, artifacts and parts, an incredible library and museum, and, best of all, the warmth and hospitality of the staff, volunteers and fellow attendees, will prove too much to resist.

Matter of fact, I plan to go back well before the 42nd annual fly-in there next Labor Day weekend. After all, Antique Airfield and the Air Power Museum are open to the public every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas and Labor Day (due to the members-only fly-in taking place then). With luck I can make the trip much sooner in my recently-acquired 1948 Globe Swift, or maybe even in the early Bowers Fly Baby homebuilt now undergoing restoration in my shop. Either one would make a great ride to Antique Airfield!

Speaking of old homebuilts (these days referred to more often as “amateur-built” aircraft), the “Legacy Log of Homebuilt Airplanes,” a recent initiative of the folks at AAA, particularly caught my interest. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss it with Robert L. Taylor, the founder and only president of the Antique Airplane Association, as he gave me an extensive tour of the Air Power Museum and Library of Flight located on the Antique Airfield grounds.

(As many of our readers are already no doubt aware, Robert Taylor created AAA the same year, 1953, that Paul Poberezny formed the Experimental Aircraft Association. Each founder was an early member of the other’s organization, and has remained so to this day. The first AAA fly-in was held in 1954 at the former Ottumwa U.S. Naval Air Station, now Ottumwa Municipal Airport. It was moved to the present site in 1971.)

The Legacy Log is the brainchild of both Robert and his grandson, Ben Taylor. The idea is to celebrate and preserve the history of the very earliest of homebuilt aircraft, such as the designs produced by the likes of Corben, Pientenpol, Stits, Wittman, Bowers, or any of the many others. The primary instrument for making this happen is a new and separate AAA publication called, aptly, the Legacy Log of Homebuilt Airplanes. To date three issues have been released, and a fourth is due out shortly. Robert is the publisher and Ben is the research editor of the magazine.

The first edition of the Legacy Log came out in early 2011, contained 14 pages of black and white content, and was laid out by hand, without the use of modern publishing computers and software. (Robert eschews computers, saying that he finds time spent at a keyboard and monitor too boring. He enjoys composing his publications the old-fashioned way – cut and paste!)

By the third issue, the magazine was 28 glossy pages, and jam-packed with color photos of antique homebuilts, as well as plenty of black and white content from magazine photos, articles and advertisements of years gone by. For a guy like me, relatively new to the antique aircraft and homebuilt worlds, these issues are a treasure trove for learning about and appreciating this earliest era of backyard and basement aircraft building.

Robert Taylor stresses that he has no desire to compete with EAA and appreciates what Paul and Audrey Poberezny have accomplished over the past almost 60 years. But this new and intense focus on the early years of homebuilding fills a niche that needs to be addressed, and will help to preserve for future generations the history of this remarkable period of our aviation heritage.

The Taylors encourage people currently flying or building antique designs, or restoring them, to submit photos and articles about their experiences. Others who might have recollections of these aircraft and this bygone era, or merely wish to learn more about the topic, are encouraged to subscribe to the Legacy Log. To do so, or to submit material, contact the Legacy Log of Homebuilt Airplanes at P.O. Box 127, Blakesburg, IA  52536, or call the Taylors at 641-938-2773. The annual subscription is $21.

You might also want to check out the website for the Antique Airplane Association and Air Power Museum.  www.antiqueairfield.com

Better yet, visit Antique Airfield and see for yourself.

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