Macauley Field

November is National Aviation History month!

A hundred years ago on November 20th, 1919, Macauley Field, the first Municipal Airport in the United States, officially opened!

The local paper, Tucson Citizen, reported that the first landing at the new airport was made “in one of the Curtis Biplanes of the Barr Flying Circus.” Flying circuses and barnstormers were a huge part of the Golden Age of Aviation. Here’s a clipping from the Tucson Citizen a hundred years ago today, November 21, 1919, advertising rides out of the brand-new airfield!

Pietenpol Donation!

Big news to announce! We finalized a wonderful aircraft donation this week.

The Kelch Aviation Museum at Brodhead Airport has received a donation of an original Pietenpol Air Camper aircraft from Mr. Gary Baglien of Loudon, Tennessee.

Mr. Baglien purchased the aircraft in 1965. Originally built in 1937 by the plane’s designer Bernard Pietenpol himself, the aircraft was restored by Frank Pavliga in 2005. It is one of the most original Pietenpol aircraft in existence and makes an important addition to the museum’s collection and ability to interpret local and regional aviation history.

Bernard Pietenpol of Cherry Grove, Minn., is considered the grandfather of the homebuilt aircraft movement. His pioneering 1928 design, using wood construction and the readily available Ford Model A engine, was promoted as an aircraft that anyone with basic construction skills could build at low cost. Hundreds have been built since, and the Brodhead Pietenpol Association, based at Brodhead Airport, still supports builders and pilots around the world.

The Kelch Aviation Museum has constructed Phase 1 of a $1.3 Million museum project, and upon the completion of fundraising, expects Phase 2 to begin in 2020. The new facility will feature 19 restored vintage aircraft from the “Golden Age of Aviation” (1920-1940) and a multi-use event space, in addition to an aviation art gallery, a collection of vintage automobiles, and an archive & library space. The facility will be open to the public year round. A capital campaign launched in 2016 has raised over $1,000,000 to date.

Closed in For Winter

Construction of our new hangar has been delayed a bit by the fickle Wisconsin weather, but we are enclosed just in time for winter. The heat is on and most of the remaining work is inside. Pictures here from November 14, 2019.

More Construction Photos

Here we are, the last week of October and the new hangar is getting closer to completion. As of this writing, completion is expected the week of November 18. The wind and rain have been wreaking havoc the past few weeks!

Thanks for checking on our progress.

Kelch Aviation Museum receives $100,000 posthumous donation from beloved community member Rudy Kopp

The Kelch Aviation Museum at Brodhead Airport has received a $100,000 gift from the late Rudy Kopp (1927-2019) of Orfordville. For those who knew him, it will be no surprise that neither Rudy’s enthusiasm for aviation nor his generosity have been dampened at all by his passing in July 2019.

“Rudy had far ranging interests, but aviation was at the top of his list,” said daughter Nancy Kopp. From his first glimpse of a plane in the early 1930s, flight fascinated Rudy, and he made up his mind that someday he would fly. He got his private pilot’s license when he was in his early 40s and his glider rating at age 50.

Rudy’s curiosity led him on adventures around the world, making friends wherever he went, and becoming a veritable encyclopedia of information of all kinds.

In his travels, aviation museums were always a required stop, and Rudy was a frequent visitor to the Brodhead Airport, sometimes bringing his 1928 Packard Sedan. Naturally Rudy followed Kelch Aviation Museum’s progress from the beginning, delighted that Brodhead would soon have such a fine facility.

The new museum building began construction in July, with Phase 1 to be completed this November and Phase 2 in 2020. The new facility will feature 19 restored vintage aircraft from the “Golden Age of Aviation” (1920-1940) and a large rentable banquet space, in addition to an aviation art gallery, a collection of vintage automobiles, and an archive & library space. The facility will be open to the public year round, and will be a community resource for Brodhead and the surrounding area. A capital campaign launched in 2016 has raised nearly $850,000 to date.

Thanks to a $370,000 challenge grant awarded by the William S. Knight foundation, Rudy Kopp’s gift will effectively double. Rudy counted Bill and Stan Knight among his many friends, and was pleased to join with the Knight Foundation in contributing to this outstanding local project.

In the span of Rudy’s long and illustrious life, Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, man set foot on the moon, and jet technology literally took off. Rudy never lost his sense of wonder (nor his sense of humor) about the accomplishments of humankind and the beauty of the natural world. Throughout his life he delighted in learning and discovering, and so The Kelch Aviation Museum will name their library & archive in his honor. A display about his life and passion for aviation and exploration will also be presented within the museum.

“Whenever Rudy stopped to visit, he would ask detailed questions about our operation and mission, so it’s humbling to know that we passed muster,” said Patrick Weeden, Executive Director of the Kelch Aviation Museum. “We are proud to carry on his memory and never-ending quest for knowledge and learning.”

Building Construction Has Begun

Construction on our new museum hangar officially began on Monday, August 26, 2019! Kranig Excavating of Albany, Wis. and Bayland Buildings of Green Bay are both busy, and neither is wasting time getting work done.

Here are some pictures from the first week of work.

Wisconsin Flying Hamburger Social Wednesday, August 21

A reminder that the Kelch Aviation Museum is hosting the last Wisconsin Flying Hamburger Social of the season next Wednesday, August 21, 2019 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at at Brodhead Airport.

We’ll have burgers, brats, and the usual picnic sides, plus some options for the meatless crowd. Fly in or drive in for some food and aviation camaraderie. There is no charge but donations are appreciated.