Open House July 17-18

Those of you familiar with Brodhead Airport will know that next weekend is the annual Pietenpol/Hatz Fly-in, July 17-19. We thought it would be a great opportunity to open up our new hangars right next to all the activity of the fly-in and show off some of our collection.

So, we’re having an OPEN HOUSE on Friday evening, July 17 and again on Saturday, July 18, 2015. We’ll have ice cream and root beer on tap for Root Beer Floats, along with displays of our building plans. Weather permitting, we’ll get the airplanes and cars out as well.

Please join us if you’re at the fly-in, or come on out to N2463 Airport Rd. in Brodhead. We look forward to seeing you!

Travel Air 12W Return to Flight

Since the Kelch Aviation Museum was formed as a non-profit corporation in 2012, a major goal of our ours has been to fly as many of the original collection of Al & Lois Kelch’s aircraft to the extent possible, both financially and practically. We chose to do this in order to keep the Kelch’s legacy alive and also to further the mission of the museum itself.

As mentioned in the previous post, we recently identified the Curtiss-Wright Travel Air 12W as the best candidate to inspect and fly this summer. On Saturday, June 27, 2015, director Greg Heckman fired up the Warner 165 and flew around the area to shake the cobwebs out of the old bird. We believe it last flew in 2002. Everything worked great and it sure sounded pretty in the sky overhead. Check out the pictures below.


12W blows the grass back on take-off roll, June 27, 2015.

Travel Air 12W on its return to flight, June 27, 2015.

Travel Air 12W on its return to flight, June 27, 2015.

Pilot Greg Heckman with the 12W, June 27, 2015.

Pilot Greg Heckman with the 12W, June 27, 2015.

Travel Air 12W after its return to flight.

Travel Air 12W after its return to flight.

We were also able to attach a video camera to the right N-strut to get some good footage. A beautiful day for flying!

Travel Air 12W First Run (in a while)

Several weeks ago, we gathered the logbooks of all the Kelch Aviation Museum aircraft to determine which one would be the best candidate to get flying this year. The board of directors had decided that we fly at least one aircraft each year in order to keep everything in a state of good repair and to generate interest in the collection as a whole. There were several to choose from, but we settled on the Travel Air 12W. Its had flown not long before Al Kelch passed away in 2004, it had been started frequently over the years, and it’s just good looking.

One of the Kelch Museum directors is Greg Heckman of Polo, Ill., owner of GH Aviation. Greg also teaches Aviation Maintenance Technology at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill. and has completed a number of award winning antique airplane restorations himself. Greg completed a detailed condition inspection on the Travel Air and today, we were able to start it for the first time in several years. Check out the video below, with director Kent McMakin at the controls.

Greg plans to put a few hours on the tach over the coming weeks, and if all goes well, will fly it to Oshkosh for the big event in July. Look for us there!

Moving Sale

With the recent purchase of the property and buildings next to Brodhead Airport where we intend to construct our new museum building, we inherited quite a collection of aviation parts and accessories from the previous owner. Not to mention quite a collection of non-aviation “stuff”.

After several weeks of removing the collectible items that can be used in our museum or resold to other aviation museums or collectors, we had a huge sale on June 13 as part of Brodhead’s City-Wide Rummage Sale.

Engine Train

Wagon train of old engine cases and cylinders headed for safekeeping.

With the hangar looking like a full-blown antique store, we opened shop amid the mess of our ongoing demolition efforts. The sale went well and we made a respectable amount to go towards the new museum.

Sale Day

Friday before our big sale day.

Stay tuned as well continue to prepare our new building for temporary occupancy over the summer.

“Lucky Dog”

Lucky-Dog-coverOne of the original trustees of the Alfred & Lois Kelch Charitable Trust and a long time friend of Al Kelch is Doug Holt, from Mequon, Wisconsin. Doug has a long history with the restoration, maintenance and flying of the Kelch collection aircraft and has been a champion of the new Kelch Museum project for some time. His weekly phone calls and correspondance have helped guide the project as we enter the design and construction phase. He has been of immesurable help in making sure the Kelch Aviation Museum is something that Al and Lois Kelch would be proud of.

Doug has also written a book that is a must read for any historian of World War II and that should be required reading for high school history classes. Doug was an Army Air Forces pilot over Germany, flying B-17s and a number of other aircraft. That he survived the dangerous skies over Europe is amazing in itself, but his stories of surviving accelerated flight training as a young 19-year-old officer and various other experiences that men of his generation endured, make us appreciate their sacrifices and reiterate what difficult and pivotal time that was in our history.

We are happy to offer “Lucky Dog” for sale on our website. Retail price is $15 but Doug has insisted that we offer it to all military veterans for a reduced price, so by entering the listed coupon code, veterans can get Luck Dog for $9. Shipping is $4.00 but we’ll have it available at the museum all summer so you can pick it up in person. Visit the Museum Store link above to order.

Our “New” Taylorcraft

Yesterday, we removed the tarps and brought our newly acquired ’37 Taylorcraft A out of its hangar and moved it to the south Kelch Museum hangars. It will stay there for the summer and should look good once it is cleaned up a bit.

This aircraft was built in May of 1937, just before C. Gilbert Taylor was joined by William C. Young and the company name changed to Taylor-Young Airplane Company. It is powered by a Continental A-40, which is a pretty anemic powerplant, but it is airworthy and has flown quite a bit around the Brodhead area in recent years.

1937 Taylorcraft A

1937 Taylorcraft A

Done Deal

It’s official!

On Thursday, April 30, 2015, the Kelch Aviation Museum completed the purchase of the property and hangars at N2463 Airport Road in Brodhead, right next door to the Brodhead Airport. The seller is Lee Stenson, a longtime fixture at Brodhead Airport and collector of antique aircraft himself. Much of Lee’s collection was included in the sale, including two aircraft that will fit perfectly in our museum, a Velie-powered 1927 Monocoupe 70 and a very early 1937 Taylorcraft A.

Property purchased by the Kelch Aviation Museum, Inc., April 30, 2015.

Property purchased by the Kelch Aviation Museum, Inc., April 30, 2015.

Work can now begin in earnest on designing our new museum facility. Our general plan at this time is to take down the 42-year old steel hangar (see previous post) and replace it with a modern 12,500 sq.ft. museum facility that can house our entire collection under one roof.

Pat Weeden, curator of the Kelch Aviation Museum, Inc., and Lee Stenson "shake on the deal" after the purchase.

Pat Weeden, curator of the Kelch Aviation Museum, Inc., and Lee Stenson “shake on the deal” after the purchase.

Join us in celebrating this big step forward for the Kelch Aviation Museum and in preserving the antique airplane heritage of Al Kelch and Brodhead Airport.

New Home for the Kelch Aviation Museum

Hello, and thanks for visiting the Alfred & Lois Kelch Aviation Museum website. In this space, we’ll post news and updates about the museum collection, events and most importantly for now, our new museum building.

Al Kelch’s collection of antique airplanes, cars and artifacts goes back several decades and includes many rare and one-of-a-kind examples. Many were purchased as wrecks or as a basket of parts but all have been fully restored to airworthy condition and were flown around the Midwest and Florida to the delight of antique airplane enthusiasts. For many years, the aircraft have been on display in the Kelch hangars at the Brodhead Airport in Brodhead, Wisconsin, but usually only during fly-in events or other odd times when Al happened to be around.


After Al Kelch passed away in 2004, volunteers with the Alfred & Lois Kelch Charitible Trust continued to keep the hangars open upon request, but for all practical purposes, the airplanes and cars collected dust, unseen and unused. In 2011, The Alfred & Lois Kelch Aviation Museum, Inc. was chartered with the intention of creating a more formal museum operation in order to further their mission:

To establish and operate a museum that celebrates the golden age of aviation and cultivates an appreciation of its powerful impact on science, engineering and design, and humanity’s understanding of its own limitless potential.

With this in mind, 501(c)(3) non-profit status was obtained and in 2014, a full time curator was hired to oversee the creation and operation of a full time museum.

The Kelch Aviation Museum is now looking to obtain a 2.5 acre parcel of land adjacent to the Brodhead Airport to construct a new building large enough to hold all ten Kelch aircraft, ten automobiles, office space, library and public space, all with room to grow. This land is in the northeast corner of the airport and is home to one of the original buildings from the 1973 purchase of the modern Brodhead Airport. Built for Blackhawk Helicopters, an operator of Bell 47 helicopters for agricultural spraying and sightseeing tours, it was later home to Jerry Edgar, one of the airport’s founders, and is now owned by Lee Stenson.

We hope to complete the purchase of this land by May 1, 2015 and start planning the new building as soon as possible. There is also a possibility of constructing a joint building with EAA Chapter 431, the host of several fly-ins each year at Brodhead Airport. With the history and energy of both organizations, we hope to create a beautiful destination for pilots and aviation enthusiasts from around the world. Stay tuned!