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Barnstormers Logo ISSUE 25 - July 2008
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By Joe Abrahamson, NAA Board Member, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Phoenix, Arizona

The National Aeronca Association held their 14th convention at the Aeronca factory in Middletown Ohio this past June. As this was the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Aeronca aircraft, it was going to be a very good convention!

The attendance was looking like it was going to be one of the largest in recent history then Mother Nature showed up and we had some difficult weather on Thursday night and Friday, which kept a lot of airplanes at home. Lucky for everyone it was not that bad of a storm, so many of these people hopped in their cars and drove instead! In the end we were just shy of 100 airplanes and I believe we had over 300 registered owners in attendance.

The airplanes even started arriving on Wednesday, something that has not happened in a long time. By Thursday night we had over 50 airplanes and the fly-in did not officially start until the next day.

We had airplanes from as far away as Florida and as close as the one Aeronca still based here in Middletown. Oldest pilot was an 80 year old gent and as usual we had the group of students who built their own Champ and flew it down from school. This year we had a group of 10 or so students come down for the festivities.

Looking down the flight line at
Middletown’s Hooks field during the fly-in.


An aerial view of the field taken by Brian Matz,
one of the board of director’s members of the NAA.


We also had one of the brand new Light Sport Champs from ACA. It was a very nice airplane and always had several people around it looking at the new Champ. Hope that several were sold because of their bringing the airplane down.

Another airplane that everyone seemed to gather around was the 1939 “stick” Chief. Aeronca made less than 20 of these airplanes, with its being the same as a usual Chief but with sticks instead of control wheels. Very few survive and even fewer are flying these days. This one even had the very rare “up exhaust” engine and cowling on the airplane. It was an award winning restoration and well deserved it! It took home the Grand Champion Antique award this year.

Many of the people went to the Wright-Pat US Air Force restoration facility in Dayton Ohio. Very nice trip and every time I go there is something new to see. They have really expanded and is well worth the trip. Luckily the NAA crowd gets to go inside the restoration areas, something that is not offered to everyone.

Part of Friday and Saturday both Jody Wittmeyer (another board member) and Brian Matz were pressed into service giving rides to everyone. It seems that former Aeronca employees come out of the woodwork on this weekend and many have never flown in an airplane that they helped build, so these two were busy. In fact they were so busy doing this that they missed the group picture and late in the day Nathan Hammond was pressed into service helping with rides.

Seminars were given by Aeronca guru Bill Pancake as well as Jim and Dondi Miller, who gave their excellent course on fabric. They are all experts in their field and we are very lucky to have them attend.

At the dinner on Saturday night we were lucky to have several of the original Aeronca employees attend. Jim Holman, one of the original Aeronca test pilots was there, and talked to everyone about life as a test pilot in the early days. Some of the stories he told us gave us a view into the company that many people did not know about. John Houser, Bob Hollenbaugh and Henry Pratt, all former Aeronca employees were at the convention, so attendees were treated to a lot of history about our old airplanes.

One of the highlights of the Saturday night dinner. This photo above shows the results of some hard work by Jim Thompson, President and Craig MacVeigh another board member, as well as several others who had been working together to collect as much as possible of the Aeronca 12AC, an airplane that the factory was hoping to mass produce but was only able to make 2-3 examples before closing after the war. The NAA now owns two of the 12AC data-tags and paperwork, and we are at this time trying to find the original airframes.

Another highlight of the dinner was that it was announced that Bill Pancake will be inducted into the West Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame! Bill has been a real asset to the Aeronca community and this was a total surprise to everyone, especially Bill and his wife! They both deserve this and everyone was really happy to see this happen.

Mark your calendars for June 2010 for the next fly-in at the Aeronca factory! Its going to get better and better!

For more information on the National Aeronca Association, or the next fly-in at the Aeronca factory, please go to:

Joe Abrahamson, NAA board member
Contributing Editor & Photographer

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