When George Meyer was designing the original Little Toot biplane, he simply thought he was making himself a fine flying machine. A trip to the 1957 EAA fly-in convention in Milwaukee resulted in Little Toot winning multiple awards, including the top one from Mechanix Illustrated, and created a demand for the homebuilt biplane.
George created plans for his Little Toot, and today still there are about 50 or so of them still flying, more than 60 years after the original first flew. Tom Poberezny’s first aerobatic airplane was a Little Toot, as the type was popular with EAAers after it was introduced. The first Little Toot itslef is flying again, after it was acquired by George’s son, Tommy Meyer.
Tommy, EAA 64, owns his father’s original Little Toot in addition to his legacy EAA number, and another Little Toot he got in exchange for restoring someone else’s airplane to look exactly like the first model. It’s the other airplane he’s just finishing up that’s got him truly excited, though.
He got a special request from his ailing father to continue on the family legacy and introduce a two-seat version of Little Toot more than 30 years ago.
“As time went on, my dad got older, and he developed brain cancer in 1982,” Tommy said. “And he asked me, just before he died, he said, ‘Tommy, I wouldn’t want anything more from you for you to build Big Toot.’ In 1982, I didn’t have the pay grade to build an airplane.”
Tommy figured the best way to prepare for this was to familiarize himself better with Little Toot. At the time, he didn’t have one of them, so he figured he could build one with a partner to learn the model better. Instead, he got the offer to restore one Little Toot to receive another.
With his good friend and restoration partner Phil Witt, EAA 427390, Tommy got to work. Months later, they had the Little Toot they were working on looking perfect — just in time for it to get shipped to Florida and for another Little Toot to arrive, this one now belonging to Tommy.
“We looked at it and said, ‘I can’t believe we just worked six months on an airplane, the guy just flew it off and left us with this thing.’ So we started all over, and he and I refurbished the second Toot.”
Tommy would get to restore another Toot — the original one. The first Little Toot was damaged during a hurricane in Corpus Christi in 1970. After years of calling about his father’s airplane, Tommy finally got a chance to buy it back from the owner who purchased it from George, and leapt at it.
Five years later, the hurricane damage was fixed and the first Little Toot was back in the air. Both of Tommy’s Little Toots have been to Oshkosh and have won awards there, demonstrating his increased airplane building ability. Now it was time for Big Toot.
“I have been working on that airplane for 14 years,” Tommy said. “I’m 74 years old. My dad did all this when he was 40. I’ve lived with his philosophy, and he taught me that when you do something you have to make two commitments: one to yourself, and one to your project.”
With daily work and the help of Phil, Tommy has Big Toot just about done. He’s working feverishly to bring it to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018, along with as many Little Toots as can be mustered. Little Toot builders, pilots, and enthusiasts will take a group photo on Wednesday during AirVenture.
Tommy hopes that Big Toot catches on the same way Little Toot did some six decades ago, and to see as many Little Toots as can possible make it out to Oshkosh.
“This airplane is so special,” Tommy said of Big Toot. “It took me almost 20 years to develop enough skill to even begin something like this.”
More information on both Big Toot and Little Toot can be found on the Little Toot website.