Josh Bixler has loved aviation for as long as he can remember. It was the common activity that he and his brother did with their father.
“It was the primary way we bonded,” says Josh.
His dad would take them to Barber Airport to fly and the first time Josh went up in a Pietenpol was with a dear family friend. He says he never forgot that experience and it has spurred on his pursuit of aviation.
Fast forward 28 years, Josh purchased his own Pietenpol and now he gets to fly from the back seat
“[There’s nothing like] the freedom that you have, the wind, the noise, the sound, the sight, the clarity,” says Josh. “Every sense you have is exposed.”
Designed in 1928, the Pietenpol has minimal controls, is a simple design and when flying, it’s almost like you’re in a different time period.
“Flying the Pietenpol is like flying a time machine with wings,” says Josh.
Josh explains what makes this aircraft a great first homebuilt plane is that since it has been around for so long, there is a huge amount of knowledge and resources available, including people who are dedicated to getting you into the air. Additionally, the same RC model techniques you have can assist you as you build. And you can build one of these for less than $10,000!
“It’s nothing more than a big balsa wood airplane that you happen to be flying in,” says Josh.
Josh believes that Barnard Pietenpol was as “Flite Test” as someone could be in the 1920s. He built the Pietenpol to be easy enough for others to build and fly, while being an incredibly robust and strong design. It also can use several types of engines, which makes for slightly different flight characteristics.
Josh’s favorite way to fly the Pietenpol is in formation because it truly captures the spirit of flight.
“It’s the connection that’s special,” says Josh. “It makes you feel more connected to the people, but also more connected to flight. I experience what pilots experienced back in the 30s and 40s as they flew these airplanes.”
Josh hopes that his experience with his Pietenpol inspires others to continue to take flight to new heights and believes that, “a lot of people can fly the models, they’re also capable of making a memory over building their planes and flying their planes.”
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