Our Chapter 166 is part of the worldwide network of EAA chapters, located in Hartford, the capital of Connecticut, with our flying activities taking place at Hartford-Brainard Airport (KHFD). EAA embodies the spirit of aviation through the world's most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA's 200,000 plus members enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing and educating others about their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. Our Chapter is even helping the CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering (AAE), a local grade 6-12 school, with building an RV-12! To find out more about EAA and our programs and services, please visit the EAA home page at EAA.org.
Whether you fly, build, restore or simply enjoy airplanes and aviation, you are welcome to attend our events and join our chapter. We are a group of aviation enthusiasts, aircraft builders, and pilots who get together with like-minded people to educate, share ideas, exchange information, encourage safety, serve the local aviation community and have a lot of fun doing so! Please come to our next meeting or event as our guest. You can get in touch with anyone from our "Contacts" page for more information.
The Greater Hartford Chapter 166 was established in April 1963. The core of the early membership was a small group of enthusiast that were primarily "Aircrafters". That term means, in particular in the greater Hartford CT area, employees of Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. Having said that, the records show that most of the early formation of the organization was accomplished by Stan Ring of East Hampton CT and his brother Harry who were not Aircrafters. Others involved were Bob and Irene Haley, Don and Sherrie Wood, Ed Greany, Bill Haggis, and Larry Carlson. Needless to say, there were many others, the names of which have sadly faded into distant memory.
The aircraft of that early group consisted of Aeronca Champs, Waco Biplanes, Piel Emeraudes, Wittman Tailwinds and Benson Gyrocopters. Quite unlike today, all of those were scratch built homebuilt aircraft, except maybe for the Gyrocopter, there were literally no kits or even material packages available for builders.
The group held "Fly-Ins" at Skylark in Warehouse Point CT, Lafleur Airport in Northampton MA, Robertson Field in Plainville CT and Goodspeed Airport in East Haddam CT to name some that come to mind. Every year, in the fall, a banquet was (and still is) held to recognize the accomplishments of members who had completed a project.
Monthly meetings are the core activity of organizations such as this one. They bring together on a regular basis, the varied talents and interest of the members and guests. We have met on the last Sunday evening of every month except for July and December from the early 60s', until May of 2017, without fail. We have used Local Bank Community rooms, College Campus Conference rooms, the CT Guard Armory, a conference room at the Phone Company near Brainard Airport and the Customer Training Center at P&WA in East Hartford.
Now, as of May 2017, we continue to meet, but at Hartford-Brainard Airport, on the last Saturday of the month (except for July and December), at 10:00 AM.
One of the members had a commercial building in an industrial park in Manchester CT and established one of what has been the first "Builder Assistance Centers" anywhere. Mind you, this was circa 1965. Luscombe and Champ restoration projects as well as Baby Ace Homebuilts were born there. They also built a "Kitalina", a takeoff on the famous Catalina amphib. The Kitalina was an amphibious aircraft. The fuselage was made up of mostly one old DC3 float, an 85 HP Continental and a set of Luscombe wings in parasol configuration and tail group. It flew briefly; a broken connecting rod bolt at the worst possible moment put it into the trees. Never reuse connecting rod bolts or nuts, Never !!! Fortunately, no one was hurt and the remains were last seen in the early 90s in a retired airline Captain's barn in CT.
A Spezio Tu-Holer was one of the early homebuilt as was a Ben T Epps Biplane, a Stewart Headwind and a PJ260 Biplane with a steel spring landing gear that took two men and a boy to lift up. It flew as well as the others. Some of you with experience will know that recreating an old design was not necessarily the way to get a great flying airplane. Many of the old planes did not handle well and were merely tolerated because of the level of understanding that existed then. Bede 4's and Thorp T-18s' were also present by the late 60s' and early 70s' and were the beginnings of the transition to the more modern breed of homebuilts as we now know them. Today, 2001, we have all the modern kits as well as some scratch built models ranging from the Glasair II and III to the Kitfox and of course the Vans RV Airforce, all the way over the a Pober Super/Junior Ace and a Rotoway Helicopter.
It would be hard to come up with a list of homebuilts and other projects that have evolved from the fertile minds of our membership. Elsewhere on this site, there may be a current listing of members and their current activities. Enjoy!
We have published, continuously since the beginning, a Newsletter that to some has been the nucleus of their participation. In the 70s and 80s The Greater Hartford Newsletter was recognized as a leader by HQ in Oshkosh in the form of national recognition and awards. The newsletter and its cover artwork by Jim McNamara of Wethersfield, CT has been a source of pride to all. That trend continues today. The Newsletter Editor's job has always been and continues to be one of the toughest to fill. Thanks to all who have served (and those who will).
Our organization has been blessed with a core group of individuals who have taken the interest and dedication necessary to continue for such a period of time. Early on, the presidents and officers served for years in the same positions. More recently, time limits and "Campaign Spending Caps" (HA) have been put into place improving, we think, the odds that the leadership will not suffer from "Volunteer Burn Out". That strategy has proved successful and to this day, we enjoy an active and energetic group of folks who are interested and want to put our best foot forward in everything we do. Currently, we have over fifteen aircraft completed or under construction in a chapter of fifty to sixty members!!!