sedan project

Contact Information:
Jim Nelson - Project Manager 218-343-0176
Tom Betts - EAA272 President 218-590-0507
Bill Irving - Chapter Secretary 218-590-9277

Since the founding of our local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), we have made it a major goal to involve youth in aviation.  We sponsor Young Eagle rides for kids from 8 to 17 years old, provide scholarship support for kids wanting to attend EAA’s Air academy located in Oshkosh, WI.  To date, our chapter has given over 5,500 free airplanes to local youth, thanks to the generosity of our members.  This year (2014), we sponsored two kids at Air Academy.  EAA 272 also provides scholarships to area students who are attending college and are pursuing an aviation career.  Our chapter is constantly looking for new ways to involve youth in aviation.

What is the Sedan Project?
In 2013, our chapter was given the opportunity to obtain a non-flying 1948 Aeronca sedan to use as a long-term youth project to rebuild the airplane.

Build-A-Plane is a non-profit group that matches people who want to donate an airplane to groups that want to involve kids in rebuilding them to flying status.  We were fortunate to obtain the airplane and moved it to Superior late last year.

Our chapter plans on using our sedan as a rebuilding project using area youth as part of the rebuilding team.  We have several aircraft builders in our chapter who are volunteering to provide their guidance and expertise during the rebuilding project.  We are funding the rebuilding project with donations of money, as well as materials needed during the rebuilding of this classic airplane.

How Can You Help?
Our sedan project fund is a separate account that is to be used strictly for the funding of this project.  Your generous contribution to restore the sedan to it’s former glory will be used strictly for this purpose.  Since our chapter is a 501c3 non-profit corporation, your contribution or donation is tax deductable.

Letters of contribution for IRS purposes are available as well.


When the sale numbers on the two-place privatemarket began to drop, Aeronca decided to enter the race with a new, 4-seat design. It was called the 15AC Sedan. In order to keep the engineering and production cost low and to have the plane quickly available on the market, the strategy was to use as many parts as possible that were already at hand from the previous 2-seat models. The Sedan would eventually be sold for only $4395!

The 15AC prototype first flew in 1947. Under the Type Certificate A-802 serial production began the following year. The Sedan was also tested on EDO 2000 floats and certified as a seaplane called the S15AC Sedan. In spite of the C-145 engine's modest 145 hp for float operation, the S15AC proved to be a dependable, rugged and easy to maintain seaplane. Between 1948 and 1951, a total of 561 Sedans were built. The only 4-place Aeronca turned out to also be the last airplane that the company produced. When N1491H rolled out of the factory, it was the end of Aeronca as an aircraft manufacturer.

The Sedan as a record setter! During the postwar years when many military airfields were abandoned, two cities, Fullerton in California and Yuma in Arizona, both with such bases employing large numbers of their citizens discovered the airplane as a means for propaganda. They used Sedans, the "Sunkist Lady" and the "City of Yuma" to set flight duration records: 1008 hours (42 days) and 1124 hours (47 days) nonstop aloft! This caught the US people's and the politicians' attention. The message was simple: "Save our air bases and jobs!" It worked: Flight operations continued on both airfields! Today they are known as the Fullerton Municipal Airport (General aviation), and the jointly used civil and military Yuma International Airport/Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma.

Today, an estimated 260 Sedans are still airworthy and flying. Most of them in Alaska where they are used as bush planes, some on floats and some with more powerful engines. Quite a few are based in the lower 48 states. Only a handful has left the USA. Some to South America. Here in Europe there are six, with only three of them currently flying: G-AREX (flying in the UK), EI-BKC (flying in Ireland), N915TC (under restoration in Ireland), EI-BJJ (stored in Ireland and in need of a rebuild), HB-ETB(under restoration in Switzerland) and N1331H (flying in Switzerland).


While the Sedan's fuselage and stabilizers are of conventional steel tube, wood and fabric construction utilized on all the earlier Aeronca models, the wing is all metal with a double spar. The ailerons are built up of aluminum ribs and then covered in fabric, the time, this was quite a diversion from the previous Aeronca standard of fabric covered wood and metal construction throughout the entire aircraft.


Wingspan: 37'6" (11,43 m)
Length: 25'3" (7,70 m)
Height in 3-point-attitude: 7'00" (2,13 m)
Height in level attitude: 10'4" (3,15 m)
Number of seats: 4
Empty weight: 1150 lbs (535 kg)
Useful load: 900 lbs (395 kg)
Maximum take-off weight: 2050 lbs (930 kg)
Fuel capacity: 2x 18 gal (2x 68 liters)


EAA Chapter 272 President Tom Betts and other members of the chapter pull parts out of the fuselage of an Aeronca sedan prior to wheeling it into the hangar Wednesday at the Richard I. Bong Memorial Airport in Superior. The chapter plans to partner with area youth groups to rebuild the aircraft. (Maria Lockwood)

Rebuilding plane inspires teen dreams

By Maria Lockwood on Jan 21, 2015 at 8:36 a.m.

Grounded and chopped into three parts, a 1948 airplane is still fueling dreams. The Aeronca sedan currently rests in a hangar at the Richard I. Bong Memorial Airport in Superior. Members of the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association are partnering with area teens to give the craft new life.

"Kids seem to hear 'No' so much," said Al White, a member of the nonprofit Duluth/Superior EAA Chapter 272. "We want to give them the idea that if you dream about something, you can do it."

While the multi-generational crew focuses on airworthy work, the project’s success isn’t based on how soon the Aeronca takes wing.

"The measure of success is the number of youth who get involved in this and experience aircraft construction," said chapter vice-president Jim Nelson. "The more the better."

Since the plane was handed to the chapter in 2013, it’s already given wings to one young man’s career goals. The high school student worked on the aircraft with Boy Scout Troop 16, based out of Asbury Methodist Church in West Duluth.

"He wanted to be a mechanic, now he wants to be a pilot more than anything," said troop leader Scott Tollefson. The teen now plans to join the Air Force.

"You just never know when an opportunity that pops up will lead to something else," Tollefson said.

Local EAA members inspected the craft and cleared it of debris. The wings held an archeological treasure trove, including birds’ nests and a mouse skull. Step by step, they set up project sessions for the youngsters. The partnership has been a win-win situation.

"It’s just as cute as can be, the kids are so excited," Nelson said. "It’s a joy to work with them. Their faces light up, almost like when they take a Young Eagles ride."

Their enthusiasm was contagious, members said.

"They were having a great time," said Mike Gardonio. "They were digging in; they wanted to work."

It’s been an exciting experience for troop members as well, Tollefson said. A trio of the boys begs to work on the plane every time they meet.

"That’s what they want to do," Tollefson said.

Wednesday, EAA members met to set the Aeronca’s wings aside in storage and tow the small plane’s main body, or fuselage, into the chapter’s hanger. The restoration project allows young mechanics to work on the older-style tube and fabric body as well as the more modern aluminum wings.

"Keeping older aircraft alive and flying is an important thing," said Bret Steffen, director of education for EAA. "It’s a fantastic old airplane; I’m glad there’s going to be some life put into it."

The post-World War II model is popular with Alaska bush pilots and has a reputation as a reliable workhorse of a plane.

The same aircraft inspired Steffen, then a Wisconsin principal, to chart a new course. He was bit by the aviation bug when the Aeronca’s owner donated it to Omro High School for shop classes to rebuild. With no teacher interested in heading the project, Steffen took it on. The fragmented plane changed his life.

"It’s the first time I had been hands-on with a general aviation airplane," he said. The small craft are usually hidden behind fences, untouchable. "All of a sudden, they seem accessible."

The aircraft appealed to his sense of the past, as well.

"Sitting in the airplane it just smells like a piece of history," Steffen said.

The principal went on to earn his pilot’s license at the age of 38. When he landed a job at the EAA in Oshkosh, the plane’s owner tasked him with finding a new home for it. Chapter 272 was the perfect choice.

"If anyone can make it fly, these guys have a real fighting chance of doing it," Steffen said. Chapter members volunteer regularly at the annual EAA fly-in, he said, and he trusts them.

The local EAA chapter has been encouraging youth involvement since its inception in 1966. Members have provided more than 5,400 Young Eagles plane rides to youngsters. They also hand out an annual scholarship and sponsor Air Academy trips for local students. The build-a-plane project takes that focus on youth to the next level.

It’s an opportunity for youth "to get their hands dirty, work on an airplane, see what it’s like and whet their appetite," Nelson said.

Local chapter members are sending out a call for help with the project. They are seeking groups of junior high and high school age students to work on the plane. Financial sponsors are also being sought. Nelson estimates it will cost a few thousand dollars for needed parts, from fuel tanks and wing skin to new fabric. If one person or business wants to foot the entire bill, they could own the plane when it’s finished. The sponsor would get a feeling of accomplishment along with a great deal on the labor for the rebuild, Steffen said.

Chapter 272 is also looking for adults to join the team.

"We need an influx of younger people in our chapter," Nelson said. "I’m hoping this will jump start that as well."

More information on EAA Chapter 272 is available online at Youth groups interested in taking part in the project or those interested in financing some of the work can also call Nelson at 218-343-0176 or email Adults can get a sneak peek of what membership in the nonprofit organization is like by attending a monthly meeting. The meetings take place the third Thursday of the month at the EAA Chapter hangar in Superior except for this month’s annual meeting.

(715) 395-5025



Sedan Notes