The mastermind and craftsman behind BIPE, which stands for BIPLANE, is Jerry Stadtmiller, who dreamt about airplanes as a small child and had his pilot's license before he could even drive a car. Jerry, a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, has worked on antique aircraft all of his life, and in 2005 won the Charles Taylor Award. The Charles Taylor Award is given by the FAA to select aviation mechanics that have worked in aviation for at least 50 years and meet standards of excellence in work and in character. The Award is named in honor of Mr. Charles Taylor, the first aviation mechanic in powered flight, the man that built and maintained those first aircraft engines. Mr. Taylor served as the Wright brothers' mechanic and is credited with designing and building the engine for their first successful aircraft. Jerry’s wife Lisa said, “Jerry’s lifeblood is aviation. The Charles Taylor Award embodies that wonderful combination of passion and competence in a lifelong commitment of work – something very few of us are able to achieve.”
One of Jerry's customers, Larry Robinson, says, "Jerry is known in the southeastern United States as one of the premier craftsman in aircraft restoration and is consulted by other restorers and mechanics. His restorations are beautifully detailed, technically perfect, and fly hands off on the test flight. I would not take my airplane to anyone else."
Many customers bring BIPE an aircraft that is no longer flying to have it restored. It arrives in boxes and pickup beds, flatbeds and trailers. Jerry and his team take the aircraft completely apart, all the way down to the bare frame. Then they scour the frame, looking for cracks to weld, and then they re-prime and paint the frame. All of the parts are then carefully assembled, true to the original, onto the aircraft and according to what the owner wants. The result is an aircraft that is one of its kind and flies like a dream. The entire restoration process takes about two years, and BIPE is usually working on 2-3 aircraft at one time. They also do beautiful fabric covering jobs for owners who want show quality cover and paint on their aircraft.
Sometimes an owner will take their antique to BIPE and help do the work on it, getting individualized instruction from Jerry.
BIPE, Inc., has restored or repaired nearly 70 aircraft, and many of these went on to become famous show planes. One example is the famous painting "Airshow" painted by esteemed aviation artist Sam Lyons.
In the 1980's the Smithsonian Museum commissioned BIPE to work on the Grumman Goose restoration team and also to produce fabric wing props for the museum. The Grumman now sits under the wing of the Concorde in the Air and Space Museum at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Washington, D.C.
In addition to restoration work, Jerry and his team perform pre-purchase inspections, perform insurance estimates, write articles for aviation magazines, consult on aviation history and authentic paint themes, are members of the Experimental Aircraft Association, and teach others how to build and restore antiques and experimental aircraft.
Jerry's wife, Lisa, is also an A&P and instructor, as well as a DAR (Designated Airworthiness Representative) for the FAA, and has built 2 experimental aircraft herself. Jerry and Lisa moved to North Carolina in 2007, choosing Andrews-Murphy as their business base and Hayesville as their home base. Prior to arriving here, BIPE Inc. operated out of Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and Lantana Airport in Florida. Owners come to Jerry from all over the United States, and he has even restored aircraft to be shipped to owners in Europe.
BIPE, Inc. is open daily from 9am to 5pm Monday through Saturday and they encourage everyone to come by and get the grand tour of the facility. "Airports should be interesting and fun places, and we hope BIPE will be able to contribute to that quality at Andrews-Murphy", says Jerry.