Out in the Breezy

With little fanfare (and less structure), the Breezy homebuilt spreads the message: Flying is fun.

Beneath a replica Piper PA-12 wing, sits this Breezy pilot Matt Hlavac, near San Diego. (Jason Paur)
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Unger recalls all of the Concorde pilots going for rides, several of them more than once. But both pilots remember the less famous passengers as well. Unger fondly recalls an 89-year-old grandmother who took her first airplane ride on a Breezy.

Some of the passengers go on to become aviators themselves—and a number go on to build Breezys. The original flew every year until 1990, when Unger donated it to the EAA museum in Oshkosh; soon after, he found a used Breezy to purchase. Unger’s current Breezy was built in 1974 by then-14-year-old Jay Vieaux. The teenager had gone on a ride with Unger; his parents later bought him a set of plans. “I’m sure my parents never thought anything would materialize of it,” he says more than 30 years later. But after some welding lessons and a lot of mentoring from Unger himself, Vieaux finished the airplane. He’s proud to see Unger still flying it each year at Oshkosh. “It’s really good to see that he’s still giving rides and keeping people interested in aviation,” he says.

Today, Unger is a spry 76 years old. And when he starts talking about flying, a listener might think he had just taken his first ride. His voice rises with excitement as he leans in to the conversation. His eyes widen and he carefully studies your face to make sure you truly understand what an amazing thing it is to travel through the air. When passengers on the Breezy—from astronauts and Concorde pilots to grandmothers and kids on their first rides—walk away from a flight with the same kind of excitement, you have to wonder if they caught it from Unger, or from the little naked airplane.

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