Owner/Builder Began His Project In The Mid-1960s, Had Not Flown Since 2007
A project which began on a dining room table in the mid-1960s has landed at the Kalamazoo, MI, "Air Zoo" museum after its pilot/builder became unable to fly. And Bob Humbert never got the chance to take his wife for a promised ride in the airplane.
The Pietenpol Air Camper project was 38 years from its start to the first flight in 2007. FAA regulations require that a homebuilt airplane be flown only by its pilot for the first 40 hours, and not any further than 25 miles from its home airport. As Humbert approached that 40 hour mark, he developed positional vertigo, and never flew again.
The Air Camper (representative aircraft shown in an Aero-TV file photo) is an open-cockpit single engine airplane designed originally to be powered by a Ford Model A engine. It was first introduced to the market in 1929. Humbert began building his on the dining room table, expecting to be flying in a couple of years. But the Battle Creek Enquirer reports that the retired microbiolgist did not complete the airplane until well into the 21st century. Life, work, and family kept pushing the airplane lower on his priority list.
The Pietenpol is much like the original airplanes ... fabric over wood. Humbert did make an accommodation to put an actual airplane engine on the Air Camper rather than a Model A mill. When he was diagnosed with vertigo and knew he'd no longer be able to fly, he decided to donate the plane to the museum where he is currently a volunteer. It is hung from the rafters of the museum at Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport.