Chapter 1414

Poplar Grove Airport (C77), Poplar Grove, IL

A Little Bit of Chapter 1414 History

2005   The Start of Something Big

     Let’s look back.  In 1972 Dick Thomas started the Belvidere Airport. In 1996 a group of four founders started Vintage Wings and Wheels Museum. The third part of this great trio came about in 2005.

     Frank Herdzina and Walt Schultz thought it was time to have a chapter on our airport. Frank said he would do the paperwork but then he wanted to back away and work on his plane projects, a 1930 Bird and a 1934 F2 Cub. But then he went further, and lined up eighteen individuals that would consider being directors. A meeting was scheduled.

AUTHORS NOTE:  I couldn’t help but chuckle when Frank said he was going to “back away” after that. He’s still trying to “back away”.

February 5, 2005    A New Chapter is Born

     The first meeting saw 73 in attendance. There were already 42 paid members and the chapter had been told they were approved. As with many earlier Museum events, Steve and Tina Thomas provided the maintenance shop for the meeting. Dave Noe and his men cleared the shop and cleaned it for the group.

     Lifetime EAA member John Larson was one of the first paid members of the new chapter, and he indicated there was a lot of enthusiasm at this first get-together.

March 1, 2005   The Charter Has Been Signed

     EAA President Tom Poberezny signed the charter on this date. Eighteen original charter members also had signed the document. They were:

     Sam Helsper,  (first President,), Tom Barnes, Frank Herdzina, Alexander Von Bosse, Jeannie Hill, Sam Kelso, Ken Kresmery, Don Alesi, Dan Helsper, John Larson, Steve Langdon, Kerry Peters, Diana Ingram, Tina Thomas, Don Pfeiffer, Lee Hilbert, Robert Fry, Bill Turner

     Tom Barnes became the second President, and Steve Langdon became the third. The chapter used Frank’s big box hangar as headquarters for years. Table and chairs were obtained along with other equipment to begin Sunday breakfasts, which continue to this day.

     Lee Hilbert replaced Steve Langdon as President. Lee became the longest serving President, leading the chapter up until 2014.  He had spent his teenage summers at Oshkosh as a volunteer, and worked to make 1414 “everybody’s chapter”. Membership continued to grow, as did the pancake breakfasts and other activities. Alex Von Bosse put out a newsletter to keep everyone informed, and it was recognized one year by EAA as the outstanding newsletter.  Glenda May took over that task for many years.

     Lee wanted 1414 to be “everybody’s chapter”, including kids. In 2007 Lee felt the EAA Young Eagles Program should become a major effort for the chapter. He asked an enthusiastic new member, Ed Myers to be Young Eagles Coordinator. Ed brought new energy into the project, posting signs all over the area and encouraging parents to bring kids to Sunday breakfasts and get a free plane ride. The Young Eagles program grew rapidly and is still going strong.


     The chapter started considering obtaining their own home base. Steve Thomas had suggested to Museum President Butch Rafferty that maybe the Museum and the EAA chapter should consider collaborating on a new building. Frank and Lee Hilbert started to discuss this with Butch.  The end result was a new building to house both the Museum restoration projects in one half and the EAA chapter would lease the other half. They would have a kitchen for pancake breakfasts, and a home base for all their other activities.

     And that’s what happened. Butch and those helping him spent a great deal of time on the Museum side. Frank Herdzina and Wally Falardeau spent many months on the EAA side, along with a lot of help from Craig Day, Don Perry and others. Special deals on carpet, tile, AC, heat and other necessities came from trade unions (with Don Perry’s help).

May 2013 Grand Opening

     Jeff Skiles is known throughout the aviation world as well as EAA, and was guest speaker at the opening of the new chapter headquarters. Since then, the chapter has made great use of their new building. A pledge drive had been highly successful to offset costs of the new building. The pancake breakfasts continued to net enough to support the chapter operational costs.

2014    Ed Myers became President, and continues as of this writing.  Huge volunteer efforts by members, which now number over 100, include the many hours spent by Dean May managing Sunday breakfasts, Don Perry,  Steve Langdon, Lee Hilbert,  Bernie McLean, Adolph Svec, Chuck Pazdzioch and many others that have made Chapter 1414 an organization to be proud of. Ed Myers with his enthusiasm expects to see the chapter continue to grow and prosper. Sean Stratton is Vice-President. Tim Gallagher headed up the Acey-Duecy project. 

Visitors from across the country are impressed with our great aviation trio - Poplar Grove Airport (1972), Poplar Grove Vintage Wings and Wheels Museum (1996) and EAA Chapter 1414, (2005).  It’s a great lineup!

Excerpt from the book "Private Wings ... My Life in Logbooks" by Paul Wallem (Author),‎ Diane Montiel (Editor),‎ Steve Alexander (Editor)

Welcome to our Chapter

We meet every second Tuesday of the month.  Dinner/Social hour starts at 6:00 pm and the meeting begins at 7:00 pm.  Meetings are held in our hangar on 5175 Orth Road in Poplar Grove, IL 61065 located next to the Wings and Wheels museum just east of Rockford, IL.

Whether you fly, build, restore or simply enjoy airplanes and aviation, you are welcome to attend our events and join our chapter. We are a group of aviation enthusiasts, aircraft builders, and pilots who get together with like minded people to share ideas, exchange information, encourage safety, serve the local aviation community and have a lot of fun doing so. Please come to our next meeting or event as our guest.

For more information on our chapter, please contact our president via the contact information provided in the sidebar.

 Here is a copy of the EAA Chapter 1414 Bylaws.  Click on the link to open in a new window.

About EAA

Our chapter is part of the worldwide network of EAA chapters. EAA embodies the spirit of aviation through the world's most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA's 170,000 plus members enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. To find out more about EAA and our programs and services, please visit our home page at

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