Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Air of Excitement Surrounded Teen's Homemade Plane

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Air of Excitement Surrounded Teen's Homemade Plane

Article excerpt

How would you react if your teenager asked permission to build an airplane in your backyard, with dreams that it would enable him to go anywhere he wanted? It might sound so ridiculous that you'd say OK, believing there's no way it'll ever happen.

But 80 years ago, this was a real effort by the Brosky brothers, led by 14-year-old Stanley, whose plane rocked all of Hope Hollow in Carnegie.

Stanley, who would later become a physicist and entrepreneur solving technical problems for the Navy and others, had already built his own ham radio station. He talked to radio operators around the world, with the unfortunate side-effect that his conversations frequently broke into the favorite soap operas of neighbors listening to their radios in the 1930s. Husbands would come by to pound on the door and demand, "Knock it off or I'll ..."

The urge to build a single-engine, single-wing plane hit Stan after seeing a Popular Mechanics article with detailed drawings describing how to do it. When word got out that he was going to build the first airplane of "Hope Hollow Airline," everyone he knew began offering help.

The owner of a lumber yard provided light-weight pine wood. An auto repair shop offered a Model-T Ford engine. A junk yard donated parts that helped connect the drive shaft to the propeller. Local gas stations donated thick canvas for the wing and body skeleton that Stan cut and sewed on his mother's sewing machine (which upset her once she realized he was damaging her needles). The only expense was $3.50 for two airplane wheels purchased at Mayer's Airfield in Bridgeville.

It seemed every teenager around wanted to help build the plane. The Brosky household became an animated gathering place after school with boys shouting, "What else can I do, Stan?" The hardest part was carving a propeller over days from a 6-foot-long, 4-inch-by-4-inch post.

Once everything was assembled, there was a clamor to test the motor and propeller. It had so much power once turned on that it created a dust storm traveling through the hollow to Scott Township. It being a Monday, when all the housewives were doing their laundry, many came running up to complain loudly. …

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