Pietenpol

His second project was a similar biplane design using a rotary Gnome engine. This was a step up from the Model T Ford and had a proven track record as it had been used by aviators such as Bleriot in his English Channel crossing and later by Harriet Quimby. The Gnome generated 50 hp, a great improvement, but the engine had reliability problems. After extensive tests, Pietenpol, not pleased with the results, called the Gnome a “growler,” and likely never even flew it. Bernard then decided to try another tactic and bought plans for a Lincoln Sport Biplane from a popular magazine called Modern Mechanics and Inventions Flying Manual published by Fawcett and whose popular aviation writer, E. Weston “Westy” Farmer, was influential in covering the world of “homebuilt aircraft.” By now it was the late 1920’s and successful designs like Edward Heath’s Parasol and O.C. Corben’s Baby Ace were being built both as finished aircraft and in kit form by their companies, and plans were being sold to those confident in their abilities as craftsmen. But these designs required some complex construction skills and equipment to manufacture welds or fabricate intricate control mechanisms that were beyond the scope of the average builder. Of course, these parts could be purchased separately by mail, a practice Pietenpol eventually offered for his designs as well. But the Heath and Corben models also mainly recommended aircraft powerplants which were less available and much more expensive (though each manufacturer did offer plans for using motorcycle engines). Unlike Pietenpol, experimental aircraft designers thought that automobile engines were simply too underpowered. Aviation was still in its infancy in America.