Bernard Pietenpol

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Bernard Pietenpol
Born 1901
Died 1984
Residence Cherry Grove
Known for Homebuilt aircraft

Bernard H. Pietenpol (1901–1984) was an aircraft designer.

Father of home built aircraft, Pietenpol was a self-taught mechanic who lived most of his life in the small community of Cherry Grove in southeastern Minnesota.

His most well-known design, The Pietenpol Air Camper, is an airplane he designed to be built and flown by the "average American" of the 1930s.[1] The Air Camper is a two-place open cockpit monoplane with "parasol" wing built from material that was, in the 1930s, readily available from local sources. Powered by a Ford Model A engine, and first flown with one in May 1929,[2] Pietenpol's design was sturdy, simple and affordable. Plans were first published in Modern Mechanics and Inventions, then in the magazine's 1932 Flying and Glider Manual.

With the success of the Air Camper, MMI editor Weston Farmer convinced Pietenpol to design an airplane that could be powered with the cheaper and more readily available Ford Model T engine. In response to Farmer's request, Pietenpol designed the single-place Pietenpol Sky Scout.

Air Campers have been built using many (over 50 have been recorded) different power plants. Pietenpol himself liked the air-cooled Corvair engine. But his original design is well suited to the high torque, slow-turning Model "A."

A restored example of the Air Camper can be found in the inventory of the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania.

The Pietenpol Field Hangar relocated to Oshkosh Wisconsin in 1984

In later years, Pietenpol sold and repaired television sets. In 1981, the Pietenpol Workshop and Garage was added to the National Register of Historic Places. His hangar was disassembled and relocated to Pioneer Airport, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin as part of the EAA Aviation Museum. Pietenpol died in 1984, and was inducted in the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 1991.[3]


  1. ^ "Pietenpol Air Camper Turns 80". Sport Aviation: 13. March 2009. 
  2. ^ "Pietenpol Aircraft Company - Pietenpol Air Camper History". Pietenpol Aircraft Company. Retrieved June 20, 2017. By now Henry Ford had come out with his new car, the Model A, powered by a bigger four cylinder engine. At an estimated 40 horsepower, this engine seemed just the thing for Bernard Pietenpol's new aircraft design's needs, and having been on the market for several years, junk yards were starting to get as many of them as Model T engines...So Bernard Pietenpol went to work converting the Ford Model A engine for his new monoplane. In May 1929 Bernard Pietenpol test flew his Air Camper with the new engine. It was a complete success - a perfect match of airframe to power plant. 
  3. ^ Aircraft Maintenance Technology. July 2008.  Missing or empty |title= (help)