By Tim Neill, EAA 9026255
It did not take Bill Bresnan long to imagine a way of raising funds for a proposed hangar extension to the existing EAA Chapter 66 building. One evening after spending a couple of hours fabricating portions of a wing section for the Hatz Classic biplane he has been building for the past 10 years, he realized the idea was sitting on a work table in front of him — wood and fabric.
Bill is the newly elected president of EAA Chapter 66, located at Page Field (KFMY) in Fort Myers, Florida. Chapter 66 dates back to the 1960s when it held their monthly meetings in a retired DC-4 airliner parked near the site where the chapter’s current facility has been built. Page Field was a United States Army Air Corps pilot training base for heavy bombers and, later, a P-51 fighter training operation during World War II. After the war, it became a commercial airport serving the Fort Myers area.
But, where does the wood and fabric idea come from? The golden age of aviation, and, in particular, the historic radial engine aircraft flown during the WWII era, is embedded in Bill’s creative mind. Not a person to waste time, he immediately began drawing plans to fabricate a full-scale replica rudder from a B-17 Flying Fortress. Bill had excess materials from his current airplane project, so why not?
And, the fundraising concept? Bill completed building the rudder and placed it inside the chapter building along with a photo of an actual B-17 tail section and added a sign encouraging people to “Join the B-17 Rudder Club, EAA Chapter 66 Hangar Fund.” Under the amount of donation, starting with a $100 onyx category and going upward in denominations to the $1,000 platinum level, a donor’s nameplate is affixed to the rudder in recognition and appreciation of their contribution.
Judging by the amount of money that has been raised in a few short months this unique rudder display has proven to be quite successful.