The History of Marginal Aviation

“Forrest and I had talked about finding a name for this group of misfits. Then one day Forrest said to me, ‘I think I’ve come up with it. What do you think of Marginal Aviation?'”

From the Co-Founder

In the early 1970s Forrest Lovley had established himself as a go-to guy for antique airplane advice and repairs. He and (my father) Wally Hanson were widely credited for the modern Pietenpol movement.

A few years later, Forrest bought a hangar in Lydia, Mn (25 miles south of Minneapolis, Mn). I had joined the fray along with a growing number of local enthusiasts. It was there Marginal would be born.


Our small group was becoming rather prolific at building and repairing airplanes out of that hangar. We had regulars that would show up on weekends to hang out or lend a hand; more and more of us were hanging out together. Forrest and I had talked about finding a name for this group of misfits. Then one day Forrest said to me “I think I’ve come up with it. What do you think of Marginal Aviation?” A couple of signs and a bunch of t-shirts later and we were off and running.

Everyone wanted to be “Marginal”.

-Gary Hanson (co-founder Marginal Aviation)

And the Rest Was History

     After it was established that everyone exposed to us wanted to be “Marginal”, demand for the knowledge, expertise, skillset, manpower and fun, soared. Soon to follow in 1979 was an annual fly-in, ‘Last Ditch’, which signified the end of the antique airplane flying season in the midwest. The annual soon-to-be award-winning antique airplane projects seemingly followed. Everything from Pietenpols, to Cubs, to WACOs, to Lairds (Blakesburg Grand Champion), to “Little Bonzo” (Hanging in the EAA Museum), a Star Cavalier, a Kari-Keen Sioux Coupe (Oshkosh Grand Champion), a Mooney Mite, and the list goes on, went through that small shop in Minnesota at some point. 

     Fast forward to 2014, while looking for that next generation of antiquers to carry the torch, a revitalization and new era of Marginal Aviation along with a new fly-in, ‘First Ditch‘, was born. Now almost a full decade into a successful new era of hosting fly-ins and restoring airplanes, the next generation of active members, owners and restorers of antique aircraft are here. We have seen the demand for an antique airplane focused organization that wants to love and maintain these pieces of history as much as we do, while having a little too much fun in the process once in awhile, and in a more “2020s” way. Bottom line, we realized, if we really want to bring young people in to be “next”, we need to do young people things and not take ourselves so seriously. 

     Instead of being a niche’ organization in the midwest, we are now focused on expanding nationwide, while positively energizing a new user base for the sake of long-term viability and survival of old airplanes. We are going to host antique airplane events (both at our home base in Minnesota and around the country), create and share content, be active on social channels, share advice and knowledge, and bring the fun while doing it all. There are a lot of antique airplane organizations out there, but we are different, we hope you find out why.

     We want more along for the ride. Take a look around. Join our movement, join the fun.

Wanna know more?

Pull up a folding chair, we are happy to share.