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Pietenpol “Air Camper”
Single-engine Two-seat Parasol Amateur-built light Aircraft

Archive Photos ¹

Pietenpol “Air Camper” (N940N) on display c.2000 at the Virginia Aviation Museum, Sandston, VA (John Shupek photo copyright ©2000 by Skytamer Images)

Pietenpol Air Camper (N12937) on display c.2003 at the EAA AirVenture Museum, Oshkosh, WI (John Shupek photo copyright ©2003 by Skytamer Images)

Pietenpol Air Camper (N6262) on display c.2004 at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Rhinebeck, NY (John Shupek photos copyright ©2004 by Skytamer Images)

Pietenpol Air Camper (NX22EZ) on display c.2006 at the Milestone of Flight Air Museum, Fox Field, Lancaster, CA (John Shupek photos copyright ©2006 by Skytamer Images)

Overview ²

  • “Air Camper”
  • Role: amateur-built airplane
  • Manufacturer: Pietenpol
  • Designer: Bernie H. Pietenpol
  • First flight: 1928
  • Variants: Pietenpol “Sky Scout”

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.

Development ²

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 Air Camper were originally published in a four part serial in the "Flying and Glider" Manual of 1932-33.

The original model was flown using an Ace four cylinder water-cooled engine. The “Model A” Ford engine later became the standard powerplant used. Other engines have also been used including the Ford “Model T”, Ford V8, Velie, Kinner, Lycoming, Franklin, Continental and Chevrolet “Corvair”.

In the 1960's B. H. Pietenpol began to favor converted engines from the Chevrolet “Corvair” automobiles. The “Corvair” engine was smoother, stronger and significantly lighter in weight compared to the “Model A”. The length of a Pietenpol varies with the engine choices, as engines that are lighter than the Ford’s need to be mounted further out from the firewall for weight and balance reasons. Over the years over 30 different engines have flown in the Pietenpol Air Camper. Many modern Pietenpol builders prefer Continental A65, C85 or C90 powerplants.

Variants ²

Pietenpol “Sky Scout” — B.H. 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. During the late 1920's and early 1930's, this was less expensive than the “Model A” used in the “Air Camper”.

Grega GN-1 “Aircamper” — A plans-only homebuilt design of the Air Camper using a Piper “Cub” wing.

Specifications (Typical Air Camper) ²

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 ft² (12.5 m²)
  • Empty weight: 610 lb (277 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 995 lb (452 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 1080 lb (490 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Ford “Model A” engine (adapted for aero use)


  • Maximum speed: 86 knots (100 mph, 160 km/h)
  • Stall speed: 30 knots (35 mph, 56 km/h)
  • Rate of climb: 500 ft/min (152 m/min)
  • Wing loading: 7 lb/ft² (36 kg/m²)


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