By Frederick A. Johnsen
It’s a pugnacious little biplane, resplendent in World War II German colors. It’s a 1954 Spanish-built clone of the 1930s German Bücker Jungmann trainer. Current owner Ed Campbell, EAA 282266, and his son spent seven-and-a-half years rebuilding it from a complete, if tattered, airframe. The Bücker draws a crowd in the Warbirds parking area at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021. Its home field is at Beaver County Airport in Pennsylvania.
Ed is an affable flier who gladly answered questions about his colorful biplane. A former air show pilot who flew an Su-29 and Extra 300 with the Firebirds team from 2000-2008, he gave up the vagabond show circuit to spend more time with his family. The Bücker project proved to be a special bridge between Ed and his son Kyle, who was nine years old when they began the rebuild. By the time he was 15, Kyle was applying the finishing paint touches to the recovered biplane. He subsequently learned to fly in this time-tested trainer, with Ed showing him the way.
This Bücker had previous civilian owners after leaving Spanish military service, where it was known as a CASA 1.131. Ed did what many civilian owners have done, and mounted a Lycoming O-360 engine under a custom-fitted cowling. After bringing his engine and engine mount together, Ed said he realized not all O-360s mount the same. Some special work was required to make the mount and the motor meet properly on this Experimental category aircraft. A nod to the vintage of this design is the laminated wooden Sensenich propeller that can give a climb rate of 1,000 feet per minute.
And how does Ed like the finished product? “In flight, it’s one of the finest handling light airplanes ever”, he says. But on the ground, “it’s a little bit dicey”, he adds. Those light controls that are a joy in flight can make it a handful on the ground, especially in a crosswind, he explains.
And he has noticed that the very light control forces make it almost impossible for newbies to make ball-centered coordinated turns at first.
The only other modern concessions are hydraulic brakes, cleverly hidden in the landing gear fairings, and modern instruments. During restoration, the wooden wings, probably of Spanish origin, were repaired as needed. Oh, and, yes, air show pilot Ed couldn’t resist putting a smoke system in the fuselage, cuz you never know…
Large pilots or passengers may find the Bücker Jungmann too confining. “It’s made for a 140-pound German youth”, Ed explains. The German markings on this biplane represent a Bücker Jungmann operated by World War II Luftwaffe fighter squadron JG 54 for miscellaneous duties.
Ed says “The best part of this story is the seven-and-a-half years I spent with my son restoring it”.