Get your Air Camper plans from Doc!

I have assembled a number of the Pietenpol Air Camper plans that I offer for sale.  My package of Improved Air Camper plans includes a copy of Vi Kapler’s center section plan.

The plans sold by Bernard and Orrin were originally blueprints – the coin of the realm in those days. Later the blueprints were changed to become white paper sheets with drawings and nomenclature in black.  The black-on-white sheets are exactly what the blueprints used to show.  These black on white sheets are now the accepted form for the plans and are what I provide.

Bernard, Orrin, Vi Kapler, and Don Pietenpol all sold Air Camper plans at a modest cost.   They are all gone now.  I am stepping forward to furnish excellent copies of such plans at a practical price, along with other written Air Camper and Sky Scout materials. Because of my close involvement with the Pietenpol phenomenon I have a sizeable cache of Piet plans and modifications and field notes which can be reproduced.


I have been involved in aviation all my life.  This includes FAA certification as an A&P mechanic with Inspection Authorization, a certificated pilot (ATP) and flight instructor in gliders, an airplane and glider builder and pilot, and an aviation journalist.  After more than seventy years as a corporate pilot and mechanic, I have over 21,000 hours as PIC.


With today’s technology, I can produce excellent materials at a practical price.  Postal rates don’t seem to go down.  My website gives detailed descriptions of each set of plans, so ordering should be simple.  Any questions, send a note to


To keep bookkeeping simple and to keep costs to a minimum, I do not accept credit cards or PayPal. To purchase plans, send me a check or money order or cash in the U.S. mail.  Shortly, you will receive your ordered items postpaid.  If not satisfied, return the material to me for full reimbursement.  I have never lost cash in the mail.  I deal with nice people.


The plans for the 1934 “Improved Air Camper” have never been updated on the plans.  This, of course, means that your copy will reflect the original first run of drawings by Orrin Hoopman.  What you will receive are copies of the exact same plans that Bernard and Orrin and Don Pietenpol sold – eight 18” x 24” shop size plans. 


You can, of course, go down to Kinko’s and scale them up or down.  They are your plans.  But be aware that such size-changes sometimes distort the drawings slightly, depending on the copy machine, it’s computer settings, and the operator.


To be a practical and safe flying machine, some updates will have to be built into your airplane by you. They are not on the original plans.  Some updates are good, some are not.  Without seat belts, you will probably not get an FAA airworthiness signoff.  Your airplane will have only a Ford Model A engine (no other engines are shown on the plans).  You will have no shoulder harnesses, no windshields, no wheel brakes, a tail skid but no tailwheel, and on and on.


When you install brakes, remember that in the 1930s, all flying fields were simply grass, and those early pilots did not need wheel brakes.  With the advent of hard surface runways and taxiways, brakes became important.  When you have brakes, you really should move the main landing wheels forward to avoid a nose over if the brakes are stomped on.  But by how much?  Every year we hear of an Air Camper noseover because someone didn’t listen to sage advice and move the wheels forward.


Bernard’s descriptive how-to-build comments in the Modern Mechanics literature are informative, but you must be aware that unbleached muslin is no longer the fabric of choice.  It has been replaced by Dacron. Being an amateur-built “Experimental” airplane, non-certificated Dacron is a good choice.  But just how lightweight, and where do I get it?  And how do I apply it?


In later years, Bernard advised that he had changed the method of attaching the ribs to the spars.  He advocated direct nailing of a new upright web strip to the inside face of the front spar and the inside face of the rear spar.  No more nails through the cap strips to split them!


He also advocated not using the main spars shown on the plans, which were 1” thick planks milled out to form an I beam because they were too heavy and too expensive.   He advocated Cub/Aeronca style planks.  This is not on the plans.


You will want to study such choices before you start building, or even start buying materials.


The plans do not tell you of any Center of Gravity limits.  There was no FAA at the time these plans were drawn.  But you had better be very aware of the CG limits on your particular airplane, especially if using other than the Model A engine.  You can turn to Doc’s Piet Shop for drawings and notes on any and all of this.


With the eight original Hoopman drawings to build the Improved Air Camper, I include a number of supplemental sheets. These include, in part, Vi Kapler’s wing center section plan.  The 1934 Improved Air Camper plans show the steel tubing split-axle style landing gear.  I include in the plans package a large sheet version of the 1932 Modern Mechanics sheet for the wood straight-axle landing gear for those who wish to use this option.  It really looks great with wire spoked wheels!  But it’s your choice how you build the gear. 


In the early days, most builders did not have access to steel tube welding equipment, nor did they know how to weld very well.  Thus the wood fuselage was the fuselage of choice.  Today, with modern welding equipment, some builders are choosing to build the steel tube fuselage.  It is about 25-30 pounds lighter than the wood.  So the 1932 Modern Mechanics steel tube version of the  fuselage is included, as is the later  “longer wood fuselage” for the Corvair engine. 


With the shop-size building plans, I include a full size wing rib outline originally autographed by BHP.  No, you do not get an original BHP autograph. This full size wing rib outline will help you set up your wing rib jig. 


Although these sheets are included with the plans set, you can order then singly as you need them.


We are not in business to make a lot of money (as if selling Air Camper plans and updates has any potential to do that!).  Doc’s Piet Shop is a business, and if we don’t make some money, we won’t be here as a resource for you.




Doc's Piet Shop, P.O. Box 1001, Neenah WI  54957