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ISSUE 37 - October 2008
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By Andy Heins, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Mt. Vernon, Ohio

Whether we fly or drive there is one antique airplane gathering that I consider a must-attend and that is the annual MAAC (Midwest Antique Airplane Club) Fly-in at Brodhead, Wisconsin. This Fly-in is always held the weekend following Labor Day at a beautiful grass strip in southern Wisconsin just across the Illinois/Wisconsin border. What makes this gathering so unique is the perfect setting for the large amount of rare and interesting aircraft that attend as well as the friendly people.

1917 Polson Special NC271

The fall Fly-in at Brodhead is one of the few Fly-ins where you will find a large and distinguished gathering of the people who are truly respected for their knowledge in the antique airplane world. This is part of the reason the Fly-in is also known as “Grassroots.”

1940 Ryan ST-A NC8146

This year at “Grassroots”, the fly-in started off rather soggy, with remnants of Hurricane Gustav invading the mid-west. We chose to drive to the gathering on Thursday from Ohio instead of waiting and hoping we might be able to fly. It rained the entire time from Indianapolis to Brodhead. Arriving at Brodhead in the mid-afternoon, we weren’t surprised to see the field nearly empty.

1940 Porterfield CP-65 NC25499

Several airplanes had arrived earlier in the week after attending the Antique Airplane Association meet in Blakesburg, IA. Thursday was a complete washout and Friday morning greeted us with light drizzle. However, by 10:00a.m., the skies began to clear. Anyone who has attended Grassroots knows, one thing that always holds true, if the weather is flyable, they will come and this year was no different.

Mulicoupe NX274Y.jpg

Soon the pattern became active with one of the first arrivals being Addison Pemberton in his beautiful Boeing Model 40.

1928 Boeing Model 40-C NC5339.jpg 05

As the day progressed, the flightline began filling up and the skies became active with the sounds of Hissos, Wrights, Continentals, Warners and Kinners. This Fly-in is well-known for the amount of airplanes that always seem to be in the pattern from dawn to dusk. No parking and tying down for the weekend…..everyone flies!

1929 Waco ASO NC608N.jpg 06

Saturday came and at first light airplanes began arriving. By dinner time, close to 300 airplanes had attended the gathering. Camping is the expected rule and tents can be seen dotting the many pine trees that surround the field. Food is offered daily on the field for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dinners are always the highlight of the day with Chili being served up by Tom Dietrich and Bob Revell of Canada on Thursday.

1941 NAVY N3N-3 NC12063.jpg 07

Friday is the annual Fish Boil and Saturday grilled Pork Chops. Saturday morning a pancake breakfast is served. Shower facilities are available on the field for the campers. Each night there is a bonfire near the clubhouse where everyone gathers to swap stories and tales. This truly is one of the most relaxed gatherings you can ever attend. There is one catch; you must be a member to attend. Dues are only $10.00 a year per person.

1936 Waco EQC-6 NC16214.jpg 08
This year the airplanes that attended represented a broad spectrum of aviation history spanning from 1909 – 2008. Brodhead Airport is well known for the interesting airplanes based in addition to being the home of the Pietenpol Fly-in the opening weekend of Oshkosh.

This is also the airport where the late Denny Trone kept a significant portion of his rare airplanes and engine collection. The late Al Kelch and his wife Lois also have three hangars filled with rare and interesting aircraft. Where else can you go to see a 1928 Thunderbird, Lindbergh’s Travel Air 2000, a 1929 Butler Blackhawk, and a 1924 Lincoln Sport, within 75 feet of each other?

Other interesting aircraft attending were a Hisso-powered Curtiss Jenny all the way from Sonoma, California, a Stearman 4E from Reno, Nevada, numerous Wacos, two Ryan SCWs, a Stinson Detroiter, a Stinson Jr., two Cessna Airmasters, Howard, Dart, Meyers OTW and two Meyers 145s, two Fairchild 22s, three Fairchild 24s, two Birds, two Fleets,
a Grumman Widgeon, several Boeing Stearmans, a Commonwealth Skyranger, Cessna 195s, a Travel Air, a Spartan C-3, a Heath Parasol, an Aeronca C-3, plus many more.
1928 Travel Air 4000 NC2709
1918 Curtiss JN4H NC3223
1930 Stearman 4E NC663K
1940 Waco UPF-7 NC29969
Ryan SCW-145 NC18912
1931 Stinson JR-S NC10886
1938 Cessna C-38 NC19458
1941 Meyers OTW-145 NC26487
1948 Meyers MAC-145 NC34360
1933 Fairchild 22-C7D NC14768
1946 Fairchild 24R-46 NC81363
1929 Fleet Model 1 NC8616
1946 Commonwealth 185 Skyranger NC73811
1929 Spartan C3-165 NC705N
1934 Aeronca C-3 NC13556
1936 Waco YKS-6 NC16249
There was the usual abundance of the various models of Luscombes, Pipers, Aeroncas and Taylorcrafts as well as several types of homebuilts including at least five Pietenpols.

If you are an antique airplane enthusiast, then Brodhead is the place to be. The setting is perfect and the atmosphere abounds with the sound and talk of aviation’s golden age.

Andy Heins
Contributing Editor & Photographer


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