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BFC History

BFC 1964-1970 by Lou Drendel
The BFC (Businessmen’s Flying Club) was founded by Vern Finzer at Naper Aero Club Field. Naper Aero was started in 1957 by Vern, who was a UAL Captain, Harold White, who was owner and publisher of The Naperville Sun, and Al Beidelman, who was Naperville Building Commissioner. Aero Drive was the only street and there were not more than a dozen homes when I started flying there in 1964. There was no community hangar, and the runway was semi-improved.

The BFC had a Cub, a Cessna 120, and 15 members. I was checked out in the Cub by Mel Finzer and in the 120 by Vern. I got my Private License the following summer in the 120. The 1960s were a very dynamic period for General Aviation. The Vietnam War created a demand for military pilots, and the airlines were beginning an extended era of growth. Demand for pilots was at a post-World War II high. You could literally get hired by a major airline if you had a College Degree and a Private License. United Airlines would give you a contract, then when you got your Commercial License, they would send you to Denver for training and an Instrument Ticket. ( An Instrument Rating was not required for Commercial at that time.) Then, as now, the airline pilot vocation was much sought after and valued.

The airline hiring boom of the 60s created great demand for basic training venues. Though I wasn’t seriously considering an airline job at that time, I was flying more than any other member. (Over 500 hours in less than 3 years.) The result of that was that I was drafted to become the President of the BFC. The BFC was an outgrowth of the Air Explorer Scouts. Vern had trained many of our members as Scouts. His son Mel and good friend Ken Anderson were charter members who went on to become UAL Captains. They were in the vanguard of many more airline aspirants who flocked to the BFC for their basic qualifications in the mid 60s. Mel and Ken were also instructors, as was Doug White, Harold’s brother and a Naper Aero resident.

When the BFC started getting more members than our two airplanes could handle, we acquired a 1956 172, then another Cub. These were followed by a brand-new Citabria. Within the space of a year, we had grown from two airplanes with 15 members, to five airplanes and 50 members! Some of this growth was painful. One of our members demolished a Cub when he landed on runway 27 on a late summer evening. With the sun in his eyes, he drifted off the runway and into a fence post. He was not injured, and we replaced that Cub with another, for which we paid the grand sum of $1,200! Unfortunately, in January 1966, that same member was flying the 172 and was involved in a mid-air over Rockton in which 5 people lost their lives. Our new Citabria sustained major damage when a student flared 15 feet in the air. One of our better trainees had just received his Private in the summer of 66, and was giving his brother his first airplane ride in the 120. Over the South Side of Chicago, the engine failed. He did a masterful job of dead-sticking it into a cemetery without damage to himself or the airplane. Vern and others removed the wings and towed it back to Naperville. We decided to do a major restoration. Club members stripped the paint from the fuselage and we took the wings to Chuck Stodola for recovering. Chuck was a UAL Engineer who lived on the strip and did most of our maintenance. (Chuck’s hangar was the first structure on Naper Aero. Tom and Roberta Priz are the current residents.) When we had the fuselage stripped, we towed it into town, to Paul Oestry’s body shop. Paul did a beautiful job of painting and striping the fuselage. Chuck recovered the wings and installed a newly-overhauled Continental 85 hp engine. We had a beauty…….for a few months.

Late that fall, one of our Private trainees was practicing maneuvers over the harvested cornfields South of Oswego, when the throttle linkage broke. The engine immediately went to idle, and he was looking for a spot to land. There were plenty of landing spots, since it had been a warm and dry fall. Unfortunately, he was a little too hot and, as he approached the end of the field he had chosen, he realized that he was not going to get the airplane on the ground before running into some power lines. What to do? Over or under? He opted for "over" and ran out of airspeed at the apex of his zoom, stalling and crashing into the field. He was not seriously injured, but our 120 was a total loss. We replaced it with a 140. This was not much of a change, except the 140 was a little heavier, had flaps, and wasn’t as fast. The Citabria was acquired in October 1965. Citabria is "Airbatic" backwards, and I thought it would give us a chance to acquire some additional skills.

John Luebke, another Naper Aero Resident, was designated as a dealer for Citabria. Citabria was an extension of the Champ design, and was being built in Osceola, Wisconsin. John and I took delivery of our brand-new Citabria on November 4, 1965. My checkout was the flight back from Osceola. We departed Osceola about 3PM after waiting for the company test pilot to complete the delivery test flight. This was a very basic airplane, with no radio and no interior lights. Fortunately, it was a CAVU day and night and we navigated by picking out the beacon from Rockford and then the lights of Chicago. John landed the airplane from the rear while I held a cigarette lighter under the airspeed indicator and leaned to one side. My logbook shows that I got my first aerobatic instruction on 20 November 1965. The Citabria was not a great aerobatic airplane. This first model was powered by a 100 hp Continental engine, which made most vertical maneuvers problematic. But it could do rolls, and the controls were the lightest of any that I had experienced. It was a fun airplane! I got 55 hours in the Citabria, and used it to pass my Commercial test ride before we traded it in on a new Cessna 150. (It turned out that I was the only member interested in aerobatics.)

The 172 mid-air occurred the following January. We replaced the 172 with a 1956 Skylane, which we purchased at Freeman Field in Seymour, Indiana. This was a somewhat weary 182, but it served us well. One of our new members celebrated his Private ticket by taking the 182 on a coast-to-coast flight, adding almost 100 hours to his logbook. I used this airplane to haul my Skydiving buddies to altitude in the summer of 66. I also discovered formation flying in the summer of 1966. We had two J-3s, and we tried our hand at formation. Well, we called in "formation", though it was more like "same way, same day" formation.

One of our "incidents" involved a trainee on his first solo cross country. He had landed at Sycamore in one of our J-3s and was taxiing to the airport office when he ran into one of the gas pumps. The wood prop was shattered. He called me and I told him to tie it down and we would see about getting it back to Naper the next day. The following day we removed the metal prop from our other Cub, loaded it into the 182 and flew up to Sycamore. After installing the alternate prop and tracking it to make sure the crankshaft in the Cub wasn’t bent, I propped it and sent our student back to Naperville with instructions to meet me at Stodola’s hangar. Naturally, I beat him back to Naper and waited for him at Stodola’s . He finally landed (to the south) and taxied to the gas pumps, where he shut down. When he didn’t show at Chuck’s hangar, I called the clubhouse. (The new hangar was built in the winter of 65-66.) He said he would be right down. He finally did show……on foot, with a badly cut hand. He had propped the Cub without benefit of tie-down, and the Cub had promptly rolled smartly into the metal locker by the pumps. (Some of you may remember this old locker with the long gash on the top front corner.) Chalk up another prop, and this time the crank was bent! Our intrepid student was not discouraged though and went on to a career with UAL. The BFC survived this period of "in and out" members, and eventually stabilized with an all Cessna fleet of 150s, 172s, and a newer Skylane. I got out of the club in 1970 and did not fly on a regular basis again until the Mentor Flyers were formed in 1974.

Some Additional Observations, 1966-2001 by Bert Toppel
I joined the Club in the summer of 1966. We had two J3 Cubs, a Citabria, and a Cessna 140, 172, and 182. Lou Drendel was the Club president and Vern Finzer was my first instructor. I soloed in one of the J3’s on runway 9 at Naper Aero. Vern mainly enjoyed giving the initial flight training up to solo, and so I switched over to Ken Anderson for the remainder of my private certificate training.

I flew in the Citabria until it was sold when the Club felt it was more than the average member could safely handle, especially during winter conditions with snow and ice on the runways. I finished up my training in the Cessna 140 with occasional flights in the 172, which I thought was the epitome of airplanes! My commercial training was done in the 140 and my instrument training in the 172. Ralph Palmer was my instructor for both of these ratings as well as for the CFIA and CFII ratings. My instrument training was during a winter like the current one and I still can remember Ralph bundled up and freezing in the right seat while I was sweating under the hood in the left seat. Ralph was an outside instructor for the Club and was one of those guys with multi tens of thousands of hours accumulated over a varied career in all sorts of flying activities including pipe line surveillance. Ralph ended up in Hawaii as an FAA inspector, and is probably retired today.

When the Club went to an all Cessna fleet, we had two 150s, a 172, and a 182. With this complement of aircraft and 50 members, the Club was usually financially in poor shape. I recall that the Club financial records consisted of check stubs in Ken Anderson’s check book! After one of our 150 aircraft was totaled, we settled down to a three aircraft Club and from that time on, the financial outlook was much brighter. Dave Eichemeyer who got his private a few months before I did, became the Club president and I served as secretary for his administration. I replaced Dave as president and had Dick Pistole as treasurer. Dick was the minister of the church near West street on Aurora road in Naperville. Although he was the treasurer, his wife Doris who was an accountant actually handled all of our finances including billing and bill paying. Chuck Pugh replaced me as president and I again served as secretary during Chuck’s administration.

BFC: 1992 to 2014 by Ray Kvietkus
When I joined the BFC in 1992, the fleet consisted of a 1975 Cessna 150 (N66188), a 1978 Cessna 172 P (N739TU) and a 1975 Cessna 182 (N44WW). Chuck Pugh was President. Bert Toppel was my instructor and I learned to fly in the Cessna 150, one radio, no DME, no GPS. It was very easy to get lost on cross country trips.

Mark Clements replaced Chuck Pugh as President around 1995. Mark spearheaded the drive to replace the older aircraft with the new fuel injected Cessna aircraft we have today. The 182 (N44WW) was sold in February 2000 and replaced by our current 182 (N415RC). I believe it had about 200 hours time when we got it. Purchase price was about $195,000. I learned that our old 182 (N44WW) was exported to Australia.

The Cessna 150 (N66188) was sold in June 2000 and replaced by a 1997 Cessna 172 (N388ES). This plane had about 300 hours time when we bought it. This was the Sporty’s sweepstakes award aircraft from 1997 which we bought for about $145,000.

Mike Pastore became President in 2001 and N739TU was sold and replaced by N983SP in 2002 for about $140,000. I became President in 2004 and watched us put about 4,000 hours on N388ES. This plane was sold in October, 2014 and was exported to France.

BFC Today
October of 2014 - Ray Kvietkus stood down from President of the board after 9 years of dedicated service. Ray will take an advisory role going forward. Chuck Jaudes also stood down. Replacements Doug Beck and Jim Krzyzewski were elected to take over the reigns.

February of 2015 - The club purchased N884BC, its first C172 with G1000 equipment. This modernization of the fleet was funded internally by club members and through the sale of N388ES (a 1997 Cessna 172R that had a 180hp conversion completed).

October of 2016 - Doug Beck stood down from President and the former VP, Jim Krzyzewski, was elected President. Gevin Cross was elected the new VP.

Contact Us
Email: inquiry@flybfc.org
Jim Krzyzewski - President
Mobile: 312-287-2155

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