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Tom Irlbeck


The RV community has lost one of its very best.  RV-8 builder, flight instructor, and consummate aviation ambassador Tom Irlbeck died Saturday, April 14, 2018 in a sailplane accident at the La Belle, Florida airport.

When we moved from Dayton, Ohio to Minnesota in summer of 1988, Tom was one of the first persons we met.  We had been here one week and decided to fly our Cessna 180 to a fly-in at the Shell Lake, Wisconsin airport.  Another 180 was parked in the grass and we pulled in next to it.  The pilot was a tall, lanky guy with a big grin and in no time Tom and my little boys were good buddies.  We became great friends over the years, sharing the common interest of our taildragger Cessnas and then moving into the RV world.  Tom and his brother Paul built his now iconic bright blue RV-8 with its Navy paint scheme.  Tom was well known throughout the RV community as true lover of aviation.  He flew almost 200 missions in the F-4 Phantom in Viet Nam.  He was one of the first Navy “Top Gun” instructors.  He flew for North Central and retired from Northwest Airlines as an A320 captain.

After retirement he was a mainstay at all of our fly-ins and most every other fly-in in this area.  He never turned down a chance to give a ride to a “newbie” RV guy (or gal) and loved to give Young Eagle rides.  When he wasn’t flying he was biking, canoeing, boating, hunting or hiking.  He wore out a couple hips and maybe a couple knees in the process, but the wonders of orthopedic surgery brought him back into the game in short order.


In recent years he found a new passion in soaring and spent his summers at the Osceola airport thermally around the Wisconsin sky, and winters doing the same near his Florida home in Cape Coral.


Tom taught dozens of RV pilots how to handle their sporty homebuilts and he lost track of how many initial test flights he conducted for new builders.  In one way or another, Tom touched so many in the local aviation community both here and in Florida.  Tom and his RV-8 “Bear” will remain in our hearts and be sorely missed.


Here’s a link to an article he wrote for our newsletter back in 2010.  It is typical “Tom”.  Enjoy it one more time……. 


- Doug





The Cape Coral News-Press published this article about Tom and his life in aviation......


Photos of Tom's memorial service in Fort Meyers, Florida, April 21, 2018



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Tom's Memorial Celebration of Life


Saturday, May 19, 2018, 5 pm to 7 pm

Osceola, WI airport (KOEO)


Tom's family and friends are inviting all who knew him to join for a gathering at Tom's hangar on May 19th.  5:00 pm will be the start time with a pig roast, food and beverages provided.   At 6 pm there will be a RV fly-over and missing-man formation followed by an America Legion Color Guard, and stories and remembrences of an aviator's life well lived.


Tom's hangar is F5 located on 68th Ave/Town Rd about a 1/2 east of SR 35.  Drive-ins and of course fly-in are welcome (parking in the grass along the taxiways).  






Our April meeting was a great success highlighted by a fascinating talk by retired Northwest Captain John Hanson.


Go HERE to view some photos of the morning....







The March 2018 issue of the RVator's Log is ready for download.  Click HERE









The December issue of the RVator's Log is ready for download.  Click HERE


RV-10/14 builder Tim Olson and his family took a trip this August to Oregon to view the eclipse.  What makes this really cool is that they took BOTH of their airplanes with his wife Andrea and daughter Colleen flying the RV-14 and Tim and daughter Danielle flying the RV-10.  You can read all about the trip HERE......



Before their trip, Tim (who is a CFI) gave his daughter Danielle some dual in short field operations in the -14.  Check out the video.........



RV-6 builder and Boeing engineer Bernardo Malfitano has made available a most intersting PDF document titled "Understanding Airplanes."  It is a mini-course in aeronaitical engineering.  View it on our Safety page.......



Our 2017 RV Fly-In and Picnic is in the books.  Attendance was down somewhat perhaps because of a rather windy day.  But regardless, it was another great time of eating and talking RV talk.  Here's a shot from Peter Fruehling of his daughter Teagan delighting in Nancy Burkholder's RV-6 roaring overhead.  Click on this link to see the Photo Gallery....




Congratulations to Wilbur Orson of New London, MN on the completion of his RV-12.  He has about 25 hours on it now and still working out a few minor glitches but he is looking forward to lots of new adventures in the skies of Minnesota.







The September issue of the RVator's Log is ready for download.  Click HERE


Check out some photos from our Lunch this past Saturday at Anoka.  Many thanks to Bernie Weiss, Pete Howell, and Alex Peterson for hosting us!!!!






The June issue of the RVator's Log is ready for download.  Click HERE


Congratuatons to Danielle Olson who soloed her dad's RV-14 on her 16th birthday!!  The Olson's were our guests for our winter meeting this year.  Is she the youngest student pilot to solo an RV??  Could be!!



Warren Starkebaum just got his RV-7 back from Midwest Aircraft Refinishing.  What do you think???  I'd say it's a beauty!!!!!






The April issue of the RVator's Log is ready for download.  Click HERE


One Last Flight


Local RV-7A builder and club member Bob Collins has written a bitter sweet piece on selling his airplane.  Bob is a professional wordsmith so this is quality work appearing on Minnesota Public Radio's NewsCut blog. Take a moment to enjoy.....


Also Bob writes on the delivery to the new owner in Michigan....



Tom Irlbeck reflects on his  57 years as a pilot, 71 1⁄2 years of flying....



Thought Id drop you a note, as I reflect back on my years in the air. Flying has been good to me.  I consider myself very fortunate, having been born into a flying family. My Dad was a B-17, B-29 pilot. When he was home on leave in the fall of 1945, we went out to John Bensons Airport, just north of White Bear Lake. Dont know all of the story how my Dad and John met, but know they were close friends, until both went west, a number of years ago. Anyway, I have a cherished photo sitting in Johns J-3 that he was renting, on my Moms lap, with my Dad in the front seat. That was my first ride at 2 1⁄2. I have my hand on the stick, my Mom said I want to shake the stick, and to this day I still enjoy shaking the stick, must be in the genes.


Last Sunday, old Bear, my trustworthy RV-8 turned over 2,000 hrs. I started building her in 1997, and June of 2000 she took me into the air on her first flight. On Sunday I was giving a Young Eagle Ride, a young lady of 15yrs, her 1st ride in a little aircraft. She had been in the air only once before, in an airliner, and was a little apprehensive. On such rides, I take it easy, you might say I hold back a lot, not my normal Navy Take Off. I mentioned that we would be turning over to the 2,000 hr mark to her, but Im sure she didnt realize the signifigance, but Bear did!!!!









The December issue of the RVAtor's Log is now ready for download HERE


Our own Tom Court has finished his weather app titled "Weekend Flyer."  It's a great tool to obtain up to a 3-day forecast of aviation weather to plan your "weekend flying."  It has been recently reviewed in Ipad Pilot News.  You can download it on the Apple App Store.  Here's the link on the Apple App Store.  Give it a free trial! 


Our 27th RV Fly-In and Picnic is now history.  Thanks to all the folks at Sky Harbor who make this possible especially Roy and Kim Fuhrmann.  Here's a link to some photos of the day......


Here is one of the best resources for general RV construction methods and technques.  And of course it's right from the horse's mouth: Van's Aircraft!  Permanently now available in our Building Tips section.


Pete and Andi Howell just wrapped up another great RV adventure!  This time it was a visit to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Leadville, Colorado.  Check out the great photos on the Trip Log page


RV-10 builder Ed Krantz and his wife Colleen have put together a great website that blogs on all things related to their newly minted RV-10.  You'll find a great building log tracking Ed's construction of the -10 and now that he is flying, you'll also find some great narratives (and videos) of their flying adventures.  Here's why we spend hours and hours (and years and years) building these great aircraft.  Enjoy.......


Our June BBQ is now history.  Thanks to Bernie Weiss and Pete Howell for hosting us!!


Here's a link to some photos of the day.......



The June issue of the RVator's Log is now ready for download HERE


Our December meeting was well attended and it was great to see old friends again and some new RV enthusiasts as well!  Tech counselor Tom Berge was center stage with an informative talk on electrical system design.  New treasurer Peter Fruehling was introduced and gave us a briefing on our new PayPal dues payment system.

Here’s a link to Tom’s PowerPoint slides which will give you a brief outline of the topics he covered.  

Simple Electrical System Architecture.pd[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [2.4 MB]


RV-4 pilot John Field recently took his niece Mono for a ride in his beautiful yellow -4.  She wrote him this REALLY COOL thank you note...  You'll love it!!! (make all that labor worth every minute!)



Where to Find Us:

Twin Cities RV Builders Group
12 Island View Lane
North Oaks, MN 55127

Phone: (651)398-1184 or (612)578-3333


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