About Us






Board

Members
 
Steve Slight
President


 Joe Hoyle
 Vice-President & Treasurer
 


2017

  
 Roger Scott


 John Sharp
Secretary


 

 
 Paul Kachurak

Pat RIley
   Mike Stark




Club History

by Gene Harrington


On a sunny afternoon in January 1959 a small red and white Aeronca 7AC Champion lifted briskly from the grass runway at University of Virginia Airport, just East of Charlottesville. From the ground, instructor Bob Somers watched his student pilot make three take offs and landings to complete his solo. Then came the traditional shirttail shearing. One of life's great moments. I was a pilot! My affair in the air was on. That hand-lettered shirttail is one of my most prized possessions.

 

Tom Sheets and I, both student pilots at the airport and both employed in the engineering department at Sperry Piedmont, with advice from Bob Somers, formed The Charlottesville Flying Club, and bought the Champ in late 1958. The purchase price was $1,450.00: Our hourly rate : $3.50 per hour! Tom became the Treasurer, I was President. The experience gained in the Charlottesville Flying Club really paid off later in the Wingnuts.

 

Warren Hall was an airshow performer in 1963, flying a clipped wing J-3 Cub named "Snappy Pappy" with a Butting Billy Goat logo. He was building an EAA Biplane at the Gordonsville Airport and Frank Hartman and I helped by making parts. My first experience at home building. We had a great time! In 1964 in Elkhorn, Wisconsin I was fortunate enough to help Andy Anderson build a Starduster II in his basement. That\'s a beautiful airplane! I didn't stay long enough to see how he got it up out of that basement!

 

By 1968 I was living in Richmond and flying a Cessna 150 from the Hopewell Airport. Dr. Daugherty and Jay Ipson were operating the airport, and Don Cummins was an instructor there. Don had a 7AC Champ on floats on the river. Hopewell was always easy to find then. You could see that brown cloud at 2000 feet from halfway across the state.

 

I wrote a story, "Home built Aviation in Chesterfield," in 1978 for the Chesterfield News Journal. Featured were the projects of Chesterfield residents Henry Martin and Vernon Hayes, both building Smyth Sidewinders, Hugh Woodle, building a twin centerline thrust of his own design, and Carlyle Dean, who was well along on his Thorpe T-18. Thus began long term friendships. I joined Chapter 231. Hugh was President of the chapter.

 

John Clayton and I became Wingnuts number one and two in late 1980. We had a couple of false starts trying to put a flying club together; people were interested but when the time came to write the check massive indecision set in. So we co-signed a loan and bought a Cessna 150 in Tennessee. John flew the plane home to Chesterfield Airport in January 1981 and the Wingnuts were off to a flying start. Once we had an airplane people could actually see and touch, membership boomed. We had to quickly cap it at ten. In those early days of the Wingnuts, a weekend saw every member at the airport watching each other fly, help with maintenance, washing, etc. Enthusiasm is contagious! So we started a waiting list and bought a nice Cessna 172 Skyhawk in February 1983. And a Cessna 177 Cardinal in February 1985. The Cardinal was replaced by a Cessna 182 Skylane, and a Cessna 172 Air Plains Conversion was added. Those four aircraft are soon to be joined by another.  The Wingnuts have reached 55 members and are plane shopping again. Check them out. They are a solid successful organization I\'m proud to have been associated with.

 

But all good things must end. I lost my medical in 1993 and sold my Wingnuts membership. Now I fly when my friends have mercy on me. 1993 was also the year Chapter 231 started it's Young Eagles Program and I was asked to be it's coordinator. With the exception of 96 and 97, when Patsy and Lonzo Cornett did such an outstanding job, I have been Young Eagles coordinator since. Chapter 231 has done a fantastic job of supporting the Young Eagles, the EAA's most publicly visible function. We have flown 2,637 Young Eagle missions. Take pride in that number: we have done our part!


Over the years I have served as Chapter 231 Librarian, Secretary, Newsletter Editor, and Vice President when Bruce Anderson was President.  The Young Eagles Program has been by far the most rewarding. I joined EAA because of my love of flying and airplanes. That common bond still holds, but has been far exceeded by a deep respect for the people involved and the camaraderie. Our group has become an extended family. Thanks for including me, EAA. It's been wonderful!

 

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