hope 40 Hatzes will attend this year's EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for the biplane's
40th anniversary of its first flight. But even if they don't reach that number,
they're optimistic about setting a record for the most Hatzes to congregate in
"We really don't have a number of how many
Hatzes will fly to Oshkosh; that will depend on the weather," said Chuck
Brownlow, of Waupaca, Wisconsin, and past president of the Hatz Biplane
Association. "We're hoping to get the largest gathering ever - at least 15
The late John Hatz, of Gleason, Wisconsin,
designed and built the bi-plane dubbed CB-1, and first flew it in 1968. Along
with the original model are the Hatz Classic, Hatz Bantam, Hatz Custom, and the
Smith Mehlin Warner Hatz.
The planes and pilots will first converge in
Brodhead, Wisconsin, from July 25-27 for the 10th Annual Hatz Biplane Fly-in
and annual meeting. Then as many of them as possible will fly to Oshkosh on
July 27 as part of "H20"-"Hatzes to Oshkosh."
The association estimates there are 150-175
finished Hatzes worldwide, although nearly 1,000 sets of plans are in
circulation. The last Hatz gathering in Oshkosh was in 1990, when 14 of the
biplanes gathered, he said.
"It really is a miracle to get a number of
these planes together because they are spread throughout all 50 states and
seven or eight foreign countries," he said. The group has members in
Germany, New Zealand, Australia, France, Great Britain, and Hatz projects are
under way in South Africa and Switzerland.
For Brownlow, the Hatz has a certain magic
associated with it. He personally felt that magic when, in 1997, he first saw
the plane as he walked around the convention grounds.
"I was planning on buying a totally
different airplane when I saw the green upper-wing and went closer to see what
it was," he said. "I looked it over and totally forgot about the
other plane that I was thinking of building."
To Brownlow, the Hatz mixes romance with
practicality. "It looks like a plane from the late 1920s, but the engine
is a fairly simple aviation engine, and it's a little smaller than your typical
antique biplane, which makes it less expensive," he said. "Plus, it's
easy to build. Anyone can build one if you take it one piece at a time."
Brownlow started building a Hatz in July 1999
and is getting close to his own first flight. The parts are complete, and he's
ready to paint and assemble it.
Usually fewer than 10 of the biplanes show up at
Oshkosh, but they tend to get noticed, Brownlow said, as they've received a
number of coveted Lindy and Grand Champion awards over the years.
Hatz owners wishing to participate in this
year's anniversary celebration should contact Brownlow at email@example.com
or visit the association's Web site at http://www.weebeastie.com/hatzcb1/
for more information.