At our most recent EAA Chapter 932 Gathering, we were pleased to host Mr. Pat Weeden, the Executive Director of the Kelch Aviation Museum at the historic Brodhead Airport in Wisconsin. The museum is planning a new facility to house its collection of vintage aircraft, cars and archives from the Golden Age of Aviation.
Al Kelch was a pioneer in the manufacturing of industrial plastics. Among his many innovations was the process for manufacturing the ubiquitous orange traffic cone. Success allowed Al to follow his passions for historic airplanes, boats and automobiles, collecting and restoring dozens of aircraft including a number of rare examples.
Al was a founding member of the EAA Antique/Classic division and the editor of “Vintage Airplane”, the division’s magazine. In 2003, Mr. Kelch was inducted into the EAA’s Vintage Aircraft Association Hall of Fame. After his death, the entire collection was placed into a trust, along with funds to establish a permanent home for the vintage aircraft.
In April of 2015, the Kelch Aviation Museum, Inc. purchased several acres adjacent to the Brodhead Airport where they intend to build year-round museum facilities that will be open to the public so everyone can experience this fine collection of aircraft.
Brodhead Airport has a reputation as being one of the finest grass airports in the Midwest and is also home to EAA Chapter 431 (www.eaa431.org). It hosts a number of fly-in events each year including a chili-ski fly-in during the winter, a pancake breakfast in May, and a three-day gathering of the Midwest Antique Airplane Club in September. The national Pietenpol, Hatz and Bleriot clubs also hold a joint three-day gathering at Brodhead each July. Not surprisingly, the airport, currently home to nearly 75 aircraft in various stages of construction, restoration or in active airworthy condition, is recognized for its commitment to restoring and demonstrating vintage aircraft from the period between WWI and WWII.
In addition to aircraft, Brodhead Airport is home to one of the few remaining Airway Beacon Towers that were used as visual navigation to guide pilots flying between Chicago’s Midway Airport and St. Paul.
To learn more about the Kelch Aviation Museum and Brodhead Airport, click your way over to www.kelchmuseum.org. Be sure to move through their news pages to see a number of articles and photos on many of the vintage aircraft you’re likely to see in their skies!