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Breezy Inventor Carl Unger Dies
The homebuilding world lost one of its icons last week with the death of Carl Unger, the co-inventor of the Breezy open-cockpit kitplane. He was 82.
Unger designed and constructed the Breezy prototype in 1964 with fellow corporate pilots and homebuilding enthusiasts Charley Roloff and Bob Liposky. The trio flew the unique three-seater to the EAA fly-in in Rockford, Illinois, that year, where it was an instant sensation. Unger gave rides in the Breezy from dawn till dark to anybody who asked for one.
The original red-and-white Breezy used the wing from a Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser and a factory new Continental C90-8 engine. For the next 25 years Unger gave rides to prospective customers in that airplane, always donning his distinctive red vest and broad smile. Today Unger's Breezy is on display at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
More than 1,000 sets of plans have been sold over the years, but there's no way of telling how many Breezys were actually completed. Intended as a safe and fun family cruiser, Breezys have been constructed with a variety of early Piper wings as well as that of the Cessna Skyhawk.
Over 40 years, Unger gave thousands of rides in his Breezy, including to Sen. Barry Goldwater, actor Cliff Robertson, and an entire Concorde crew. The first ride Unger ever gave in the Breezy was the most memorable though, and he always enjoyed recounting the story.
During early testing of the Breezy he landed at a small grass strip south of Chicago that (unbeknownst to him) was bordered by a nudist colony. A group of nudists emerged from the nearby woods to see the strange craft. One woman, wearing only a pair of sandals, asked for a ride.
"Yeah, get on," he said, a little surprised that a nude woman would want a ride in an airplane that appeared equally as nude with its welded steel tube fuselage. The woman slipped on a pair of goggles, set down a towel, hopped in the back seat and off they went.
Unger died on September 24 at is home in Oak Lawn, Illinois.