They all dream of finding the perfect plane gathering dust out there somewhere in an old barn, buying it for $1,000 or so, then restoring it to flying condition with loving applications of fabric, wood, wire and, inevitably, coating upon coating of money. But the air antiquer does not want merely to look at his craft, he wants to fly it, low and slow like they did in the old days, following roads and railroad tracks to his destination while the engine blats out its rhythms and the wind snaps his white silk scarf just like in those 1930s talking pictures. The happy aeronauts at right and on the following pages are doing just that. More than 300 of them hedgehopped their way to mid-Iowa where they swooped down upon a cow-pasture airfield, breaking off a tail wheel or two, stunted and looped and showed off the planes that are their special pride. Photographer Heinz Kluetmeier captures the collectors with the objects of their adoration, and antique buff Sherwood Kohn writes of the rally that nostalgia built.
Over Iowa and climbing, Jim Harris roars along in his better-than-new 1940-model Stearman, similar to those winging in formation at lower left. Other beauties include the Super Ryan at lop left and the 1928 Waco at lower right. Starting them, as in the scene at top right, requires a wary approach.
Rambling along upside down, Doug Rhinehart's 1936 Rose Parrakeet flies faster than it does upright, an eccentricity not shared by the more level-headed Tiger Moth at upper left and the 1911 Epps Monoplane (right).
The 1929 Spartan ready to go at top left is the flight of fancy of a Wisconsin collector, Ed Wegner. The result of such labor can be spectacular (try that smoking dive for kicks), a whole skyful of maneuvers that fulfill dreams in old boys and spur them in the young.