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EAA Chapter 83

Terre Haute, Indiana
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Chapter 83 History
EAA and Chapter 83: "In the beginning..."

The story of Chapter 83, in Terre Haute, Indiana mirrors the stories of the 1500+ Chapters that have come into existence since the 1953 formation of Chapter 1 in Riverside, California. It is the story of the of a group of individuals who enjoy the fellowship of others who have an interest in and knowledge of aviation as well as the shared desire to build a bond between local aviation and the general public. Through the monthly meetings, that provide forums for guest speakers and presentations on important aviation issues, and reaching out to their community with social and educational activities, the Chapters are the true 'grass roots' backbone of the EAA representing the fun, enjoyment and attainable goals of recreational aviation.

The 60's: "Up, up and away..."

Chapter 83 was first chartered in Terre Haute, Indiana, on March 1st, 1960. Spearheaded by Garland Wadsworth, Malcolm McHargue (1st President), James Baggs (1st Sec/Treas), and H. Foster McLin (1st Program Director). Initially, with their shared interest in flying meeting attendance was high. However, the members friendships grew to the point that several formed partnerships to purchase certificated aircraft. With their hours in the air increasing, their interest in homebuilding and attending meetings declined. So, only five years after its inception, Chapter 83 lapsed into dormancy.

The 70's: "Reach out and touch someone."

The Chapter was revitalized when several new faces in the Terre Haute aviation scene joined with the original members to reactivate the charter on June 24th, 1970. By the mid-70's over 25 members were actively participating in Chapter activities including workshops on then current kitplanes, welding, composite construction and fabrication and operating Volkswagen aircraft engines on alcohol. These gatherings were held in a variety of locations, from Garland Wadsworth's shop to the homes of many including John Blouch's. John was a dynamic member and a mechanical wizard having been a crew chief and engine designer and builder for teams at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He owned a Piper Clipper along with a fleet of Indian Motorcycles and some antique motorcars. At the same time, Chapter President Garland Wadsworth owned and flew an Aeronca Champ, and a Cessna 170, while working on a Volksplane. Extending the Chapter's reach into the community, Chapter 83 hosted and organized at least two air shows at KHUF in the mid to late-70's. Though they featured The Red Devils (forerunners of the Christen Eagles Squadron), Art Scholl, Bob Carmichael, and others famous acts of that period, the shows lost money, but left a lasting impact by introducing the local community to the fun and benefits of general aviation.

The 80's: "Fly the Friendly Skies"

The 80's saw membership growth and the need for new meeting places. The homes of Drina Abel, Jim Gibson, Curt and Betty DeBaun, Keith Welsh, and Pete Peterson were put to good use as were the shops of Rose-Hulman, Tom Flock, John Blouch, Chuck Rubeck, Harry Foy, and Garland Wadsworth along with two airports, Clinton and Aeroplanes. Members also expanded their horizons during this period. Aeroplanes, a grass strip south of Terre Haute, was opened as a partnership between Jim Gibson and Pete Peterson. The most active pilot at this strip was Bill Ax, who just happened to also become its first groundskeeper. The 80's also introduced the idea of fly-out meetings, an activity which continues to this day.

It was also during this time that Tom Flock began rebuilding Waco UPF-7's. He restored 7 of the classic Waco's with such craftsmanship that he won numerous awards at Oshkosh including three award winners in the same year. He also had three of his aircraft featured in one EAA Calendar. Another testament to his craftsmanship was the purchase of one of Tom's restorations by a former Edwards test pilot, Tom McMurtry, whose other ride was the 747 NASA used to carry the Space Shuttle Orbiter mounted on its back. It is no wonder that Tom Flock was an early inductee into the EAA's Antique Aircraft Hall of Fame.

The 90's: "Keeps on going and going and going"

The 90's saw continued growth of Chapter 83. To accommodate this growth, Chapter officers frequently swapped positions, so at one time or another many served as president. It also meant gathering at numerous new locations - Clinton, Aeroplanes, Tom Flock's Waco Factory, Brazil, Winter's Airpark, Casey, Shawnee, Sullivan, Ivy Tech at HUF, ISU, Rose-Hulman, Greencastle, the Shepardsville Fire House, and Don Bussart's airstrip. Being, at that time, the main instrument of communication for the members, readership of the Chapter's Newsletter expanded under the Editorship of Herb Massey, Pete Peterson, Ray Olinger, Darrell Gibson, and Keith Welsh. The 90's also saw the advent of a full schedule of fly-meetings.

The highlight of the 90's was the 1995 visit to the Chapter by Burt Rutan. While a thrill for all of the members to meet Burt, no one was more thrilled than Keith Welsh. After Burt inspected Keith's Quickie at Sky King, the man who designed the Quickie and who has probably seen more of these homebuilts than anyone else, wrote in Keith's POH that it was the best Quickie he had ever seen! Finishing off that incredible visit, Tom Flock then flew Mr. Rutan from Sky King Airport to Butler Field in Rockville in one of his exquisitely restored Wacos.

The 2000's: "Y2FLY"

The new millennium saw continued growth in Chapter 83 until the mid-2000's. At that point, Chapter 83, like all of General Aviation, saw a slight decline in membership. However, there was no decline in activities and participation. Young Eagle flights introduced many youngsters to the fun and thrill of flying. Movie nights featuring aviation-themed films were begun at the new T-hangars at Hulman Field. Fly-outs to new locations were added to the old familiar sites. And, with the advent of Jordan Brown's involvement in flying and owning Warbirds, meetings were regularly convened in his Vintage Wings hangar.

In summary, Chapter members have owned and/or flown an array of aircraft including at least one, of Aeronca Chief and Champ; Luscombe; Ercoupe; Piper J-3, J-4, J-5, Clipper, Colt, Cherokee, Cherokee 6, Dakota, Comanche, Vagabond, Cruiser, Warrior, Archer, Arrow, Pacer and Tripacer; Waco; Taylorcraft, Citabria, Bonanza, Mooney, RV 3, 4 and 6; F-1 Rocket; Cessna 120, 140, 150, 175, 172, 182 and 185; Sonerai II, Thorpe T-18; Flybaby; Flutterbug; Eaglet; Emeraude; Varieze, Longeze and Quickie; EAA Biplane; Midget Mustang and Mustang II; Smith Miniplane; Pitts S2S; Cuby; L-5; 108 Stinson; Whitman Headwind; Glasair; KitFox; Zenith; Super Decathlon; Spacewalker; Dragonfly; Challenger; Pietenpol, Pietenpol Air Camper; Velocity; Robinson R-22; Grumman Tiger, Traveler and Cheetah; the famous Woody Pusher as well as a T-6 Texan and 1942 Beech C-45H Expeditor.

It is this rich history of involvement in recreational aviation, homebuilt aircraft and community involvement that Chapter 83 continues to undertake today and into the future.




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