Enshrined November 3, 2012
While in high school Joe began to fly and also began rebuilding and repairing airplanes under the supervision of his father. During this time, Joe developed a deep interest in aviation and discovered his love for restoration. His first project was a 1940 Piper J-5A Cub Cruiser that he and his uncle bought together. This was also the airplane he soloed in and got his commercial license in. The longest project was a 1943 Twin Cessna T-50 nicknamed the “Bamboo Bomber.” Because of being built mostly of tubing and wood it was a 5-year project. He bought the plane in Pensacola, FL and transported it back to Lawrenceburg in pieces and started rebuilding the airplane piece by piece. He refinished each part inside and out like a piece of furniture. The award winning “Bomber” flew better that a factory new aircraft. This was the aircraft he used to get his multi-engine rating. Through the years, the quality and renowned reputation of Joe Fleeman became well known among the aviation community across the United States. Joe has rebuilt some 20 aircraft to better than new condition. Among them was a Mustang II with a top speed of 225 mph. Joe has presented several aircraft at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Oshkosh AirVenture throughout the years and is a three time Grand Champion with a 1940 Piper J-5, 1955 Piper Tri-Pacer, and 1937 Bucker Jungmeister. He also won two Reserve Grand Champions with 1953 Piper Tri-Pacer and a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub. He won Grand Champion Classic with a 1943 T-50 Twin Cessna at the Antique Aircraft Association (AAA). Joe has also restored a long list of other vintage aircraft including: 1947 Piper PA-11, 1940 Luscombe, 1942 Stearman PT-17, 1948 Cessna 140, 1947 Piper PA-12, 1946 Aeronca Champion, 1983 Pitts Special S1S, 1951 Bucker Jungman, 1966 Mustang II, and 1956 Cessna 180. The meticulous detail in Joe’s restoration efforts is also reflected in his dedication as a flight instructor. His many students over the years are now in the aviation industry across the globe and share the passion they learned from Joe Fleeman. The Federal Aviation Administration works closely with Joe on approvals of the aircraft he has rebuilt and they are always delighted at the quality and expertise of his restorations. Restoring and rebuilding antique aircraft, flight instruction, sage aviation advice and anything concerning flying from Joe Fleeman is always first class. He is a true artisan, the consummate craftsman, teacher, mentor and aviation professional. His dedication and devotion to the preservation of aviation and the quality of his work set a standard of excellence without parallel in aviation.
To learn more, visit: www.tnairmuseum.com