|Patrick Mihalek shows off a Merlin engine on a P-51 Mustang he’s working on at Legend of Aces Aviation.
PHOTO COURTESY OF LEGEND OF ACES
He may be only 28 years old, but since his years at the EAA Air Academy, Patrick Mihalek’s had his eyes on the 1940s.
Having grown up on Brighton Field in Michigan, Mihalek was around airplanes all his life. He got his first ride when he was 9 years old and later became active in EAA, joining when he was 13 and taking part in the Young Eagles program.
Mihalek heard about the EAA Air Academy through Young Eagles, and his parents decided to send him. “I kept going every year after that until I couldn’t go anymore,” he said, adding that the Air Academy opened a lot of doors because of the people he got to meet.
One day, Mihalek got a ride in a PT-17 Stearman biplane. “That’s when it struck my love for warbirds,” he said. “My parents say I’m a reincarnated World War II mechanic.”
After graduating as an A&P from Western Michigan University with a degree in aviation maintenance, Mihalek started his own warbird and vintage restoration business—Legend of Aces Aviation.
“I’m a perfectionist,” Mihalek said. “I try to make it 100 percent original, as it left the factory.”
Through his work, Mihalek hopes to keep history flying, and share it with the youth. He’s starting a nonprofit organization to get kids restoring aircraft so they can come out of high school with an A&P certificate.
In the past 13 years, Mihalek has only missed one AirVenture. He drove in this year, but in the next couple years, he hopes to bring three warbirds to AirVenture with Legend of Aces. He plans to have his private pilot certificate by the end of the summer, but he spends a lot of time on the road. After all, Legend of Aces makes house calls.