David Wiebe’s experimental amateur-built Piel Emeraude was one of the frequent fliers during the 2020 Antique Airplane Association/Airpower Museum‘s (AAA/APM ) Invitational Fly-in. Its sleek lines and pretty paint scheme make it look like a modern flying machine, but it’s more than half a century old.
It’s fairly rare to see a Piel Emeraude at fly-ins these days. David is proud to preserve his Emeraude CP-301A (N21456, s/n 1102) in airworthy condition – not only to keep another legacy homebuilt flying, but as a personal tribute to his late father, Gustav “Gus” Wiebe, who built it.
Back in the early 1960s, Gus, 41, was married and running his own business, Wiebe Wood Products, when he started building the Emeraude.
The Piel Emeraude Gus Wiebe built from plans more than 50 years ago.
“Dad built it entirely from plans. He started it in 1963 and finished it in October 1964. It took him 11 months to build it, while raising nine kids,” recalls David. “Dad passed away in 2012, and I just inherited it and restored it back exactly like it was when he finished it. It was the only airplane he built from plans.”
Gus’ father worked for Boeing, and Gus naturally developed a lifelong interest in aviation, starting with building model airplanes as a boy growing up near Wichita.
“Dad had an airplane before he got married, and then he and my uncle bought a PA-11 in 1959. We haven’t been without an airplane since,” says David. “Of the nine kids, all four of us brothers fly and I have one sister, Helen, who used to fly. My mom’s father, Dick Hensley, worked for Al Mooney at Culver in Wichita, and Dick also did wood working with my father, so we all pretty much grew up with aviation.”
A cabinet maker by trade, Gus had been working with wood all his life. Eventually, people
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