GREENSBURG — Tom Schoettmer knows vintage airplanes.
The Greensburg native and co-owner of Parkside Lanes was recently awarded a prestigious “Lindy” Award at the 2013 EAA AirVenture Aviation Show in Oshkosh, Wis. AirVenture is staged by the Experimental Aircraft Association.
According to a press release on Schoettmer’s win, the Lindy is one of the highest honors bestowed within the recreational aviation community.
The award is conferred for excellence in aircraft construction and/or restoration, according to the release. Schoettmer won the award, along with his brother Jim, for the restoration of their 1946 Taylorcraft BC12D.
“We first bought this plane in 1992,” Schoettmer explained. “We found it in New Carlisle, Ohio.”
He added, “I learned to fly on a Taylorcraft Tail Wheel aircraft similar to this one, and I always wanted to buy one if I ever got the chance.”
Schoettmer actually flew the aircraft for five years before grounding it in 1997.
An inspector, he explained, requested that he inspect certain components of the plane that required complete disassembly of the wings. Even if the components in question had been in acceptable condition, reassembly with the old parts made no sense due to the cost and time involved.
Schoettmer instead decided to mothball the craft until he could save enough money for a complete restoration. The project wouldn’t get started until 2003.
Earlier this year, the plane’s restoration was finally completed.
“We just got it back in the air in late June or early July of this year,” Schoettmer said.
From the engine to the wings to the passenger compartment and everything in between, the craft has been completely restored.
“We took this plane completely apart to the last bolt, nut, washer, screw and nail,” Schoettmer said.
Schoettmer and his wife, Trudy, flew the plane to the competition in Oshkosh. The little plane cruises at 95 miles per hour, and trip took five-and-a-half-hours each way.
“The longest my wife had ever flown with me before that was an hour-and-15-minutes,” Schoettmer said. “She really enjoyed it, though. It was a great trip, watching the countryside pass beneath us and talking. We only needed one stop each way. She’s ready to do it again.”
Schoettmer ultimately won a Bronze Lindy in the Classic Class I, 0-to-80 Horsepower Category for his restored aircraft.
Asked what the award meant to him, Schoettmer replied, “This is the biggest aviation event in the world. When you have all these judges look at your airplane and they decide yours is the airplane they’re going to give an award to – it’s a real achievement.”
More, this is Schoettmer’s second Lindy. He won his first in 1986 at the same show for a restored 1952 Cesna 170, which he still owns. He won in the Classic Class II, 81-to-150 Horsepower Category for that craft.
“That’s probably a rarity – one person winning two of them in a lifetime,” Schoettmer said.
Schoettmer anticipates flying the plane around 15 hours yearly – though he’s already gone above that number in 2013 and anticipates another 10 hours in the air before year’s end.
“It’s a great little plane,” he said. “It’s got 65 horsepower, and it burns four gallons of fuel an hour. It’s got a great little heater for winter flying, too; it’s hard to find aircraft with that low a horsepower with a good heater, but mine’s got one.”
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011