First Flight of Spring

Pilot Greg Heckman took the Curtiss 12-W out for a short flight over Brodhead yesterday to shake off the winter cobwebs. Everything performed well.

$30,000 Challenge Grant

Last summer, the Brodhead Area Foundation award the Kelch Aviation Museum a $30,000 challenge grant toward our $1 Million Capital Campaign to build a new museum facility. As has been mentioned here and in our many area presentations, having the community support of our museum project is critical to our success. The award by the Brodhead Area Foundation will go a long way in broadening our outreach and ultimately reaching our goal.

With the deadline looming in a few short months, we are still about $3,500 short of the $30,000 we are required to raise in order to receive the $30,000 match. 

Please visit our Donation page and check out the premiums we are offering to donors of various levels. We will get to our goal, and you can help!

Alfred & Lois Kelch Scholarship

Each year, Vintage Aircraft Association Chapter 11 in Brookfield, Wis. awards the Alfred & Lois Kelch Scholarship to a young person in southeast Wisconsin, “…interested in pursuing their interests in any field in aviation.” The 2016 recipient was Luke Lachendro from Beaver Dam, Wis., who has been very active in vintage aviation preservation efforts for most of his life.

Luke sat down for an interview with the Alfred & Lois Kelch Aviation Museum staff late last year to talk about how the scholarship will help get his aviation dreams off the ground and how the legacy of Al & Lois Kelch continues to benefit youth aviation education. Take a look:

Speaking Tour

We have recently been bringing the Kelch Aviation Museum story to various civic and aviation groups in the area. Optimists Club, Kiwanis, Chambers of Commerce and EAA Chapters. 

We will be speaking at the regular meeting of EAA Chapter 60 in Beloit, Wis. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017. If you’re in the area, stop by and see what we’re all about.

Rediscovering Aviation – An interview with Jeanne Scholes

During the summer of 2016, 88-year old Brodhead resident Jeanne Scholes visited the Kelch Aviation Museum for the first time and told us stories of her flying days as a young girl. She took lessons at age 15, soloed at 16 and earned her private pilot certificate at 18. Jeanne flew Stearman, Wacos, military trainers, Cubs and Luscombes. She married soon after and stopped flying herself, only going up occassionally with her husband over the next 60 years.

Listening to Jeanne’s stories and her obvious enthusiasm about flying, we invited her to fly in our Curtiss 12-W and later, our Stearman C3B. Listen in the video below as she describes her experience in rediscovering flying in vintage aircraft.



Video Presentation for our $1 Million Campaign

We are proud to release this new video to support our $1 Million capital campaign to construct a new museum facility. In it, you’ll meet Al Kelch, see firsthand the history behind the Kelch organizations and how learn how the Kelch Aviation Museum came to be. You’ll also learn about our legacy of funding youth educational programs and our plans to build on years of success in this area. Take a look!

Donate today!

Stearman Photo Shoot

On Thursday, November 3rd, with perfect autumn weather, we conducted an air-to-air photo shoot of our 1928 Stearman C3B with noted aviation photographer, Jim Koepnick. Greg Heckman was the Stearman pilot with Eric Berens piloting the photo ship, our 1932 Curtiss 12-W.

Here is a short video clip from the wing mounted video camera. Can’t wait to see Jim’s photos!

New Stearman Prop

Now that we have several flight hours on the museum’s Stearman C3B, its time to start taking care of the squawks that have turned up on the airplane. One of those was the propeller. On take-off, the Wright J-5 engine wasn’t turning up to the proper RPM, only about 1,500 instead of the expected 1,800. Also, in cruise flight, the airspeed was a bit higher than expected, about 105 MPH instead of 95. Those symptoms point to the wrong propeller.

The prop that was on the Stearman was put on after it’s only previous flight in 1997 and had never been flown. In fact, it had never even been ground run. Our “first flight” back in August was its first time in the air and that’s where the problems turned up. With too course of pitch, there is a bigger load on the engine, sort of like when you’re starting off on a bicycle in high gear. It’s tough pedaling! Its also difficult to slow down on approach to landing. This isn’t always a big deal, but the Wright J-5 is notorious for cracking pistons in this situation and new pistons are virtually non-existant. On the advice of several J-5 experts, the search was on for a new prop.

Luckily, we have another J-5 in the museum on our 1927 Travel Air 4000. Since this aircraft is still technically under restoration and will not fly until next summer at the earliest, we pulled that brand new prop to try it out on the Stearman. Everything was much better on the test flight, with take-off RPM at 1,700 and cruise speed of 95 MPH.

The new prop had a varnished natural color hub though, and the Stearman’s was painted along with the spinner or “beanie cap” on the nose. Leaving the beanie cap off ruined the lines of the airplane, so we decided to paint the new one to match. Jim Weeden fabricated a small wooden adapter and painted the hub today. It all looks great and we will fly it again next week after the prop is hung again.

New Spinner

New prop hub

New prop and hub with beanie cap.