Whether you fly, build, restore or simply enjoy airplanes and aviation, you are welcome to attend our events and join our chapter. We are a group of aviation enthusiasts, aircraft builders, and pilots who get together with like minded people to share ideas, exchange information, encourage safety, serve the local aviation community and have a lot of fun doing so. Please come to our next meeting or event as our guest.
The South Central Ozarks Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association began in the spring of 1998 with aviation enthusiasts from a fifty mile radius of Gainesville, Missouri. The EAA Chapter 1218 Charter was signed by eighteen members in October, 1999. Of the eighteen charter members Clint Allen, West Plains, Bill Ghan, Mansfield, Fred Kalhoefer, Macomb and James Wiley, Peace Valley, are still actively involved with the chapter.
Originally, our meetings were held in classrooms available only during the evenings at Gainesville. One of those classrooms only had chairs for small children. In 2001, meetings were moved to Saturdays in Ron White’s hangar at Willow Springs. We began to see a steady increase in our numbers. In 2003, Charter Member Bill Ghan needed some assistance completing a modern version of the Wright Flyer. To celebrate 100 Years of Flight on December 17, 2003, Bill’s Wright Flyer taxied at the Willow Springs, Missouri Airport.
In 2004, chapter members decided we needed our own hangar for conducting meetings and assembling projects. We also needed a place to house the aviation library collection donated to the chapter by Ted Businger. Our building at 810 Bryan Street, Willow Springs was dedicated on October 7, 2006. Our facility is complete with meeting room, kitchen and large 50’ x 50’ shop space. Over the years, the chapter has grown to over 120 members in a nine county area the result of moving to a central location.
EAA Chapter 1218 strives to provide an atmosphere for recreational aviation activities, promote and encourage aviation safety in the design, construction, restoration and operation of all types of aircraft, promote activities that provide aviation educational opportunities, have fun being around airplanes and flying. EAA provides member programs and activities that allow members to meet others with the same interest in a family friendly atmosphere. You do not have to be a pilot to join the organization; the only requirement is a love of aviation.
Experimental amateur-built or “homebuilt” aircraft require that the major portion of the fabrication and assembly tasks be performed by persons that are building the aircraft for their own education and recreation. At least 50% is constructed by a private individual; the remaining 49% purchase from a kit manufacturer. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Examiner must certify the aircraft for flight.
As a Jerry L Smith Aviation Scholarship fundraiser, the chapter has published two cookbooks. Several chapter members have completed their own homebuilt projects and others are in the building process. They are featured as category dividers in the newest publication.
EAA Chapter 1218 members and guests have fun being around airplanes, flying and other related aviation activities. Monthly chapter meetings are held on the second Saturday of the month.
For more information on our chapter, please contact our president via the contact information provided in the sidebar.
Our chapter is part of the worldwide network of EAA chapters. EAA embodies the spirit of aviation through the world's most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA's 170,000 plus members enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. To find out more about EAA and our programs and services, please visit our home page at EAA.org.
|Written by Susan L'Hommedieu|
|June 26, 2009|
The South Central Ozarks Chapter of EAA had its very first meetings in the spring of 1998. A group of aviators who were clustered in an approximately 50-mile radius around Gainesville, Missouri, gathered to form the nucleus of the Chapter. Most of them were already members of the national Experimental Aircraft Association. They had been members of other local chapters in various places where they had lived previously, or were currently members of the closest available local chapter in Missouri or Arkansas. They all had one thing in common, however, and that was an interest in the homebuilding of airplanes. Some had airplanes in progress, some had built them in the past, and some were looking for information on starting a project. So they gathered and found they were a very compatible group. Meeting space was a problem, though, and the only suitable place was a classroom at Gainesville Elementary School—in the evening—and during the school year only. Although the school is right across the road from Gainesville Memorial Airport (H27), it isn’t the kind of airport most people want to try out at night, a grass strip 1895 feet long with trees at both ends. But the classroom sufficed to get the Chapter up and going. The Chapter received its charter in September, 1998, and was signed by the founding members in October.
An innovation in the meeting pattern began in December, 1998, when the Chapter meeting was held at a member’s home for the first time to visit and eat in the shop where airplanes were being worked on. This was also the first daytime meeting. Even though the weather was chilly, the food and conversation was warm. Everybody was able to look and discuss and share ideas. By the way, spouses have always been willing and welcome to attend all meetings, and have been active in supporting the Chapter’s activities and social life from the very beginning. Meetings at members’ homes and shops and hangars have become a regular feature of Chapter 1218 ever since.
Once in a while the evening meeting schedule was supplemented with a Saturday morning fly-in breakfast, where members would fly in to the airport, walk across the road to the café to eat and visit, then fly home again. Also, the first Young Eagles rallies were held at Gainesville in April and September, 1999.
About this time one member, who has longtime experience in homebuilding, began an ambitious project in anticipation of the Centennial of Aviation in 2003. He started working on a full-size replica of the Wright Flyer, the first powered aircraft. This project gradually attracted helpers and supporters throughout the Chapter. The goal was to fly the project aircraft in December, 2003, then donate it to Springfield-Branson Regional Airport (SGF) for display. The aircraft was certificated by the FAA on December 16, 2003, and test-flown on the Centennial, the next day. It rose a bare few inches off the runway, and problems were discovered in the process. Three weeks later, January 10, 2004, the Wright Flyer Replica achieved flight. It now does, indeed, hang in the terminal building at SGF.
Each year, there are some members who attend “the big air show” at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the major annual program of Experimental Aircraft Association which is known around the world. When these members return, we listen to them tell of their “Oshkosh Experience” at a subsequent Chapter meeting.
From the Chapter’s beginnings, there has been a monthly newsletter. The outstanding feature of the newsletter, which appears fairly regularly, is the “member bio,” really an autobiography. We love to read ’em but we hate to write ’em! With the coming of the information superhighway, the Chapter developed a website, too, www.eaa1218.org. The current newsletter appears and all previous newsletters are archived on the website as an online version. This was in addition to the printed version that was mailed to all members each month. Eventually, membership grew to the point that it was no longer feasible to mail a printed copy each month, so the “printed” newsletter is now sent via e-mail in the form of a PDF file, where members may read it on their computers or print a copy.
Since many of the members of Chapter 1218 are also members of Missouri Pilots Association, they were aware of a wider community of pilots in the Ozarks. In September, 2000, the Chapter helped with the air show at Willow Springs, Missouri. During the time of preparation, several new members from that area were added to the membership roster. And a meeting was held at the hangar of one of those new members at Willow Springs. The remainder of the meetings for 2000 were held in Gainesville, except in December, when the Ozarks was hit with an early snowstorm, and the meeting was canceled.
With new officers starting off in 2001, meetings were moved to Saturdays in the Whites’ hangar at Willow Springs Memorial Airport (1H5), which is now our official headquarters. This meant many more members could attend regularly. The ambiance of “living” among the airplanes is a happy setting for “airplane people.”
About this time, the Young Eagles program was really ramping up in anticipation of the Centennial of Flight in 2003. Having already started having meetings in different places, it was decided to take Young Eagles rallies to different airports, and hold the meetings in conjunction with them whenever possible. During 2001 and 2002, meetings and Young Eagles rallies were held at Ava, Gainesville, Mansfield, Mountain Grove, Mountain View and Willow Springs. In 2003, a new feature was added to the Young Eagles rallies. A flight simulator helps introduce people to the idea of learning to fly, and a paper airplanes craft table is often available for younger children. In cooperation with the MPA Chapter, an “airplane” train is available, and a float was built to participate in local festival parades. There was a “Learn to Fly” information table at one local festival. The Young Eagles program continues as an official activity of the national EAA organization, and Chapter 1218 continues to fly its share of Young Eagles.
Another new idea was to start having “airport work days,” the first of which was held in Gainesville in 2002.
With all these new projects, it was natural that the Chapter would look to some fundraising activities to support them. The Chapter put together the popular “Celebrating 100 Years of Flight Cook Book,” in which there are recipes gathered from a number of sources, including the members’ own kitchens. Another member, who recently published a series of fictional stories dealing with aviation, donated a quantity of each book to the Chapter to be sold for fundraising, too.
In the winter of 2004, the Chapter decided to investigate building a Chapter hangar. A survey form was sent out with the newsletter soliciting members’ opinions on this. The majority were in favor, and their suggestions were considered when a Hangar Building Committee was formed. The land was donated by a member, much of the building material also donated, and labor was volunteered by members. The hangar was started in 2004, and was completed in 2006. It was dedicated in October with ceremonies honoring the many contributors. Most of the contributors were Chapter members but there were also a large number of businesses and individuals from the entire southwest Missouri area among them. The hangar is designed to house not only the building of project airplanes, but to serve as an activity center for classes, meetings, and social gatherings, as well as housing the Ted Businger Aviation Library, which was donated to us.
Chapter 1218 is a very active Chapter. We draw our membership from the five counties of the south central Missouri Ozarks, and beyond. Our goal is to count every pilot, homebuilder, and aviation buff of any stripe in this area in our fold. You are welcome here.
Happy Flying, Chapter 1218.