Hall of Fame
Chet Peek, Ph.D.
orld War II veteran. Thir- ing lessons in a Taylorcraft A. A year cer for the 8th Air Force, 95th Bomb
ty-one airplanes owned, later, he was selected to be one of the Group, and would serve in that ca-
many of them restored 10 students in the second CPT pro- pacity until the war in Europe ended
with the help of his wife. gram sponsored by Iowa State Uni- in the spring of 1945.
Author of six aviation history books. versity, and by May of 1941, Chet Reunited for the first time in two
Engineering professor. Father of two was thrilled to be the holder of a lim- and a half years, Chet and Marian
boys and husband of Marian. ited commercial pilot certificate, with started life in the Midwest, where
Five short sentence fragments, more than 100 hours in his logbook. Chet began his career as an engineer
but it’s the gaps between the words Close to graduation from mechan- with a Frigidaire distributor, design-
ing commercial refrigeration plants
and air conditioning systems. Like
so many of their peers, they started
their family, with sons Stan and Tom
arriving in 1947 and 1951. Later,
Chet’s career would take him into ev-
er-higher positions within the com-
mercial trailer production business.
At age 50, Chet went back to college
to earn a doctorate in industrial engi-
The Peek Family homestead near Paullina, Iowa.
that fill out the remarkable story of ical engineering school at Iowa State
our 2007 VAA Hall of Fame inductee, at the outbreak of World War II, Chet
Chet Peek, Ph.D. was accepted into the Engineering Ca-
Chet was born on Armistice Day, det School in the Army Air Corps and
November 11, 1920, on the family entered the school on June 2, 1942.
farm homesteaded by his grandfather A month later, while on his first 24-
in 1883. Chet still owns that farm, hour pass and against all regulations,
near Paullina, Iowa. His first airplane he married Marian Swain, whom he’d
ride came in 1932, a two-dollar ride met while they were both freshman
in a Waco RNF paid for by his grand- at the Ames, Iowa, campus.
father. In ’39 he managed to start fly- Chet served as engineering offi- 1937—Chet and his big 1927 Harley.
6 JANUARY 2008
neering. After graduation, he worked When Chet sent in the photos ately marked “Antique Airplane Ad-
in academia, serving as the head of and biographical information we diction.” Not surprisingly, it was the
the Oklahoma City University’s MBA requested for the Hall of Fame pro- thickest of them all, liberally sprin-
Program, retiring in 1989 as an in- gram, he neatly organized a series of kled with shots of his family and air-
structor in Oklahoma University’s envelopes for the various periods in planes and of the many projects he’s
College of Business. his life. One envelope was appropri- enjoyed working on throughout the
years, which have served as the sub-
ject of his aviation books, including
The Pietenpol Story, The Spartan Story,
The Taylorcraft Story, Flying with 40
Horses, Resurrection of a Jenny, and
The Heath Story. He’s currently work-
1940—Some of his training in the CPT program was done in this Luscombe 8A.
Reunited with his bride after two and
a half years. Chet and Marian on July
After graduation from the Army Air
Chet and Marian graduated from Iowa Corps Engineering Cadet School, Chet
State in the spring of 1942. was ready to go overseas in April 1943.
1955—Chet and Marian with their
Lt. Chester L. Peek, engineering officer of the 95th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force. boys, Stan, age 8, and 4-year-old Tom.
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 7
One of his earliest restorations, Chet’s E-2 Cub, N14330, was part of the family
for 45 years, until completely destroyed by an F5 tornado.
Chet seemed to be addicted to the CallAir. Here’s one of his restorations, a One of a series of Taylorcrafts owned by
CallAir A-3 Cabin. Chet and Marian, this is their BL-65.
Chet and his family with their Waco UPF-7 in the early 1960s.
8 JANUARY 2008
A couple of the 10 CallAirs owned by Chet at one time or another. Here are his res-
torations of a pair of Cabin CallAirs, an A-3, N2909V, and an A-2, NC33356.
Below: Chet’s first brand new airplane,
a Taylorcraft F-19. Chet loves rare airplanes. This is his restoration of Driggs Skylark N11301.
1956—Chet used a Chevy
to haul home a Standard
J-1 basket case from
Lynch, Nebraska, with a
small U-Haul trailer.
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 9
Chet and his restored Jenny were one of the five Curtiss JN-4s featured in 1989’s “Jennys to Jets” feature at EAA Oshkosh
ing on a history of the Standard J-1. grandchildren and friends, join them the EAA. Who would have thought
For more information on his books, in Oshkosh to celebrate Chet’s induc- back there in those days, as you look
you can visit his book website, www. tion into the VAA Hall of Fame. In his around today, the organization would
ThreePeaksPub.com. acceptance speech, Chet said, “I feel so be what it is and what it is doing.
Throughout the years of engineer- honored to be here with all these other “We’re free to fly in this country,
ing work, restorations, and writing, aviation greats and very humbled, be- and it’s something we should appre-
Chet’s wife, Marian, has been busy as cause, as you will see, there are really ciate, and the EAA is very much re-
well, earning a master’s degree, sewing some outstanding people here,” Peek sponsible for a very large portion of
fabric, hauling wings, and enduring in- said. “It seems like only yesterday that that freedom. It’s been a great jour-
numerable retrieval trips to haul home I sent a dollar or two off to some fellow ney, these last 50 years at the EAA,
a dilapidated airplane project. Chet in Milwaukee who was starting a new and I’m happy to say it’s not over.
was thrilled to have Marian and their club for private aviators. He called it I’ve got a Pietenpol almost done in
sons, Stan and Tom, along with their the Experimental Aircraft Association, my garage.”
In May of 1999 the J-1 restoration was nearing com-
pletion when an F5 tornado obliterated Chet’s hangar,
destroying the J-1 along with four other airplanes, a
50-year collection of antique aircraft parts, several
antique cars, and a completely equipped shop. Chet
holds what appears to be a small section of a spar.
10 JANUARY 2008