Two classics – a Pietenpol Air Camper and Arthur Ord-Hume!

Pietenpol Air Camper

Sometimes the fates allow a most appropriate meeting. In this photograph (taken in the Historic Aircraft Park at GVFWE, Hullavington) we can see not one, but two classics of aviation.

G-BUCO is a Pietenpol Air Camper, an American design which has been around since 1929; Bernard H. Pietenpol (1901-1984) was a self-taught mechanic who, in Minnesota, during the midst of the Great Depression designed a simple, easy to build two seat aircraft (developed from an earlier single-seater) constructed from cheap materials such as Sitka spruce, and powered by a 40hp Model A Ford engine.  The aircraft first flew in May 1929, and plans were published in Modern Mechanics. It was a success, with hundreds having been built to this day, powered by over 30 different types of engine; the aircraft plans are still being sold by descendants of Bernard Pientenpol. This particularly fine example, G-BUCO, was constructed by Alan James of Reading , Berkshire in 1992, under the auspices of the Popular Flying Association, and is powered by a Continental Motors C90-8F motor putting out around 95hp. One small point with regard to the Air Camper is that it takes a certain amount of effort, and the ability to wriggle through small gaps between wing struts, to gain access to the front seat!
 The build standard and finish is a credit to the constructor and owner, and it is being carefully examined (as part of the GVFWE Concours d’Elegance competition at Hullavington)  by another aviation classic, in the person of one Arthur W.J.G.Ord-Hume.
It has been my priviledge to have known Arthur for many years, and it is safe to say that there are few people who know more about aviation in general, and British light aviation in particular, than he. Indeed, if I reach out with my left hand, even as I write this, it will fall on my own copy of ‘British Light Aeroplanes, 1920 – 1940’, by Arthur; a truly seminal work. Underneath that signature Panama hat, lies a repository of aviation (and musicological) knowledge at which one can only wonder. Here, we really do see two aviation classics together!

11 comments on “Two classics – a Pietenpol Air Camper and Arthur Ord-Hume!”

  1. I too was a friend of arthur Orde -hume .I would like to contact him..My name is Angi Chiesa. I knew him at Handley Page Aircraft. ,during th 1950s. I eventually owned his Luton Minor G-AFIR.He would not be aware ot this.Probably 1964 to 1970.


    • Dear Angi, I was delighted to be able to pass your email address to Arthur (he and I remain in contact – irregularly!) I enjoy his company immensely, and we always spend a GREAT deal of time catching up, whenever we run across each other. Any friend of Arthur’s is a friend is mine! Ciao!


  2. Wow .Today Arthur contacted me.I have invited him to go on SKYPE,because I live in THAILAND and would like to speak to him ;face to face.

    I am delighted to tell the world that he remembered me and some of the fun times we had. I did give him a little help with G_AFIR. Spent some time with him at ELSTREE aerodrome. Must of been in the 1950s. Ten years later I owned and flew this delightful Luton Minor.Great days


    • Excellent! I could not be more delighted. Arthur is an old friend, and I am very happy that two former H-P colleagues are back in touch


  3. now I AM in contact with ARTHUR


  4. Hi Arthur,great to be in contact with you


  5. Arthurs rebuilt Luton Minor. There is no picture of it on the internet Surely this must be rectified. Lets have a site for this historic aeroplane.Angiolo


  6. WOW! Love the design and attention to detail on this Pietenpol :o)
    Do you know the colors used for G-BUCO, she look great! Thanks for the motor information listed above too. Kent, Bigfork Montana USA


    • G-BUCO is finished in a dark green and cream; a very good choice for a Pietenpol Camper! The blog features 50% aircraft (the pattern now established is for alternating posts, the others being everything from 12 century architecture to invasive plant species). I like to think that people come for the Spitfires and enjoy the steam locomotives (or the dog breeds, castles, country gardens, etc). Hope you enjoy the many other aircraft……….




  7. I have heard some unsubstantiated reports of Minicab tailplane structural failures. .what truth in these, and where and when did they occur


    • Both the crash of G-AWEP (June 1969) and G-BBFL (June 1993) did not include tailplane failure in the Air Investigations Branch official report. The CAA just list G-BCLM as ‘destroyed’ as of 28.2.1984, but do NOT give details. The crashes of ZK-DSS (1987), and ZK-CZQ (1990, fatal), both in New Zealand of course, are more difficult to attribute especially as -CZQ was completely consumed in a post-crash fire. I shall list any tailplane failures if they come to light!


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