The Pietenpol Air Camper is a simple parasol wing homebuilt aircraft designed by Bernard H. Pietenpol. The first prototype that became the Air Camper was built and flown by Pietenpol in 1928.[2][3][4][5][6]

Air Camper
UK variant Pietenpol Air Camper
Role Amateur-built airplane
Manufacturer Pietenpol
Designer Bernie Pietenpol
First flight 1928
with Model A engine, May 1929[1]
Status Plans available (2015)
Variants Grega GN-1 Aircamper
Pietenpol Sky Scout
St Croix Pietenpol Aerial
St Croix Pietenpol Aircamper
UK variant Pietenpol Air Camper
Air Camper with a Ford Model A engine
A Pietenpol Air Camper under construction, showing its wooden frame structure.
"Pinocho", an Air Camper made in Mexico by Miguel Carrillo Ayala in 1935 and now in the Museo Militar de Aviación. Powered by a 201 CID engine of a Ford Model A.



The Air Camper was designed to be built of spruce and plywood. One of Pietenpol's goals was to create a plane that was affordable and easy to construct for home builders. Building an Air Camper requires basic woodworking skills and tools. Builders also need to fabricate some metal fittings to attach the wooden parts together. Some welding is required. The plans for the Pietenpol Aircamper were originally published in a four-part serial in the "Flying and Glider" Manual of 1932-33.[4][5]

The original model was flown using an Ace four cylinder water-cooled engine.[4] The Model A Ford engine later became the standard powerplant used; the design was first flown with one in May 1929.[1]

In the 1960s Bernard Pietenpol began to favor converted engines from Chevrolet Corvair automobiles. The Corvair flat six was higher horsepower, smoother, and significantly lighter, compared to the Model A, and was similar to those already available for general aviation use. The length of a Pietenpol varies with the engine choices, as lighter engines needed to be mounted further forward for weight and balance reasons.[7] Over the years over 30 different engines have flown in the Pietenpol Air Camper. Many modern Pietenpol builders prefer Continental A65, C85 or C90 air-cooled flat fours.[4] Several examples of the Aircamper have been built in Europe and in 2012 were still flying.

In the 1920s and 1930s, kits were available for the design, but there were none available again until 2015 when the Pietenpol Aircraft Company introduced a kit version of the Air Camper, with components supplied by Aircraft Spruce & Specialty. The kit includes all parts except the engine, dope, fabric covering, and hardware.[8]


Pietenpol Sky Scout
BH Pietenpol also designed and published plans for a single-seat version of the aircraft named the Pietenpol Sky Scout, which was slightly smaller and was powered by the Ford Model T engine.[4] During the late 1920s and early 1930s, this was less expensive than the Model A used in the Air Camper.[9]
UK LAA-approved Pietenpol Air Camper
In some countries, civil aviation authority approval is required for each experimental aircraft design, in addition to the approval of each aircraft an individual makes, as in the US. A variant of the Pietenpol Air Camper was designed by Mr. J. K. Wills, and UK Light Aircraft Association approval was obtained for this variant.[10]
Grega GN-1 Aircamper
Grega GN-1 Aircamper
A plans-only homebuilt design similar to the Air Camper using a Piper Cub wing.
St Croix Pietenpol Aerial
A biplane adaptation, designed by Chad and Charles Willie and produced by St Croix Aircraft of Corning, Iowa, first flown in 1977.[11]
St Croix Pietenpol Aircamper
An adaptation of the original design with more wingspan, longer fuselage and higher gross weight.[11]

Specifications (Typical Air Camper)


Data from B.H. Pietenpol And Sons Air Camper Aircraft (2013). "How to Build a Pietenpol Air Camper or Sky Scout Airplane". Retrieved May 14, 2013.

General characteristics

  • Crew: One pilot
  • Capacity: One passenger
  • Length: 17 ft 8 in (5.39 m)
  • Wingspan: 29 ft 0 in (8.84 m)
  • Height: 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
  • Wing area: 135 sq ft (12.5 m2)
  • Empty weight: 610 lb (277 kg)
  • Gross weight: 995 lb (452 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 1,080 lb (490 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Ford Model A automotive conversion engine , 40 hp (30 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 86 kn (100 mph, 160 km/h)
  • Stall speed: 30 kn (35 mph, 56 km/h)
  • Rate of climb: 500 ft/min (2.5 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 7.0 lb/sq ft (36 kg/m2)

See also


Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ a b "Pietenpol Aircraft Company - Pietenpol Air Camper History". Pietenpol Aircraft Company. Retrieved June 20, 2017. By now Henry Ford had come out with his new car, the Model A, powered by a bigger four cylinder engine. At an estimated 40 horsepower, this engine seemed just the thing for Bernard Pietenpol's new aircraft design's needs, and having been on the market for several years, junk yards were starting to get as many of them as Model T engines...So Bernard Pietenpol went to work converting the Ford Model A engine for his new monoplane. In May 1929 Bernard Pietenpol test flew his Air Camper with the new engine. It was a complete success - a perfect match of airframe to power plant.
  2. ^ Bowers, Peter M.: Guide to Homebuilts, 9th Edition, pages 10-12. Tab Books, 1984. ISBN 0-8306-2364-7
  3. ^ Plane and Pilot: 1978 Aircraft Directory, page 150. Werner & Werner Corp Publishing, 1978. ISBN 0-918312-00-0
  4. ^ a b c d e B.H. Pietenpol And Sons Air Camper Aircraft (2013). "How to Build a Pietenpol Air Camper or Sky Scout Airplane". Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Bayerl, Robby; Martin Berkemeier; et al: World Directory of Leisure Aviation 2011-12, page 115. WDLA UK, Lancaster UK, 2011. ISSN 1368-485X
  6. ^ Tacke, Willi; Marino Boric; et al: World Directory of Light Aviation 2015-16, page 121. Flying Pages Europe SARL, 2015. ISSN 1368-485X
  7. ^ "Pete takles a passel of Peitenpols". Air Trails: 61. Winter 1971.
  8. ^ "Classic Pietenpol Now In Kit Form". April 7, 2015. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  9. ^ Sport Aviation. February 1958. {{cite journal}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Light Aircraft Association (21 June 2013), LAA Type Acceptance Data Sheet TADS 047 Pietenpol Aircamper, retrieved 16 February 2014
  11. ^ a b Purdy, Don: AeroCrafter - Homebuilt Aircraft Sourcebook, Fifth Edition, page 248. BAI Communications, 15 July 1998. ISBN 0-9636409-4-1