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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedAn honorary ‘unlimited’ Cup racer
By Randy Dufault, EAA AirVenture Today

July 28, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin - What started out as somewhat of a joke turned into a truly unique experience for Tres Clements and Ryan Malherbe of San Luis Obispo, California.

Clements and Malherbe arrived at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2009 with the rest of the 2009 AirVenture Cup racers in Clements’ Pietenpol Air Camper.

“We were planning the flight here, and someone joked about racing,” Clements said. “One thing led to another, and here we are.”

 “It was out of our way, but we’ve flown so much it really didn’t matter,” he added.

The low-power, parasol-winged Pietenpol is not what one could call a typical air racer.

“We thought about getting a whole bunch of stickers and making it look like NASCAR,” Malherbe said. “But we were afraid we would pull the paint off.”

However, they did follow a long air racing tradition of special race preparations, preparations to get the maximum performance out of the bird.

“We washed the bugs off the wings,” Malherbe said.

A small cargo pod used to transport the duo’s luggage was also removed and transported in one of the race support aircraft.

Photo by Jeff Miller
Vernon Rogers and Rene Dugas with the Turbine Legend from Monroe, Louisiana,
and Tres Clements and Ryan Malherbe with their Pietenpol from San Luis Obispo, California.

This year’s race started at Dayton Wright Brothers Airport in Ohio and finished in Lomira, Wisconsin, with the Pietenpol “racing” as an honorary participant in the Unlimited Class.

To contrast the performance of the Pietenpol as an air racer, the overall race winner, a Lancair Legacy crewed by Lee and Jay Behel, finished the course in 1:28:01. The Pietenpol flew the same path, under the same conditions, in 6:13:00 for an average speed of 72.2 miles per hour.

Adding to the contrast with the Pietenpol was the return this year of the Turbine Class after a short hiatus.

Rene Dugas and Vernon Rogers flew Dugas’ Turbine Legend turbine to an overall second-place finish.

According to race Chairman Eric Whyte, another interesting aspect of this year’s race was that a fixed-gear Glasair, piloted by Bruce Hammer, finished with a better time than several retractable-gear airplanes.

Clements and Malherbe’s Pietenpol adventure-to-AirVenture started with an idea to fly a Piper Cub from California.

“But the Pietenpol was cheaper,” Clements said. So they left California on July 14.

Clements’ plane had not flown for four years when he bought it. A fourmonth restoration effort was required before the trip.

The only significant trouble with the plane during the journey was a broken weld. While looking for some assistance, they realized they were very close to longtime AirVenture Cup racer Dick Keyt’s shop in Texas. Keyt, owner of the Polen Special racer, took care of the repairs, and the pair pressed on.

Clements is just amazed at all the interest and publicity the trip with Malherbe is generating.

“This is just a trip to Oshkosh. I thought everyone does that,” he said.

“But it has been a great adventure, and we’ve met a lot of great people.”

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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