The Corben Baby Ace-the launch of the home building movement

By Willie Bodenstein

Photo© Willie Bodenstein

If ever there was an aircraft that got the homebuilders going the single-seat parasol wing monoplane Baby Ace of 1929 was it.

© Wikipedia.
Of tubular construction with wooden wings and powered by a Heath-Henderson B-4 modified motorcycle engine the Baby Ace was a design of Orland Corben the owner of the Ace Aircraft Manufacturing Company. Corben was also responsible for the design of the Junior Ace and the Super Ace. Unfortunately, because of a change in state regulation passed in 1939 that banned the flight of uncertified designs Corben was forced out of business.

Unperturbed Corben moved to Madison in Wisconsin and started the Corben Sport Plane and Supply Company and produced the Super Ace. This venture unfortunately also did not succeed and remained dormant until 1952. In 1948 the regulations were withdrawn and in 1952 Paul Poberezny, founder of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), purchased its assets.

© Wikipedia.
Paul was approached by Mechanix Illustrated magazine in 1953 to write a series of articles on building an aircraft at home and the plans for the Baby Ace being available used those as the basis of his series. Fearing a clash of interest he to divested himself of the marketing of the Baby Ace. The rights have been sold to a number of persons throughout the years. Bill Wood who purchased the plans in 1998 is the current owner.

The series, under the headline "Build This Plane For Under $800, was published in the May, June and July 1955 issues of Mechanix Illustrated and included information on the EAA. Featured on the cover of the May issue the Corben Baby Ace propelled the EAA from a regional to a national organization. Such was the response that Poberezny's had to buy a new mailbox to handle the flood of mail.

Photo © Willie Bodenstein

Although only about 450 Baby Aces have been built Paul's series created awareness in general aviation and the EAA and the 1950s saw an unprecedented bloom in the sale of plans of homebuilt aircraft.

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