Created by Texas A&M University at Galveston Sea Camp Photojournalism Students Including: Rosslyn Ambrose, Carolann Love, Emma Sampson, Summer Cosman, Noah Hayes, Izzie Pfalzgraf and Brianna Moore
Robert Mihovil, Photography Instructor and Irene Perez, Counselor
Photo credits left to right: Emma Sampson; Izzie Pfalzgraf; Rosslyn Ambrose
Forty-five year old Winston Larison, an “old soul,” as his wife calls him, has made his career around his love of vintage airplanes. As a child he was fascinated with airplanes, first having an interest in WWII aircraft. He began flying airplanes at fifteen years old, before he even learned to drive a car. Now, he specializes in building, flying and restoring antique golden era airplanes at Scholes International Airport Galveston. As of 2022, he has completed two airplanes from scratch including a 1929 Pietenpol.
Larison has been commended by those who know him as a highly skilled mechanic. This is clear when one is informed of his achievement in building and earning the license to fly the Pietenpol. Pilot, George Gould said, “Not many people can do what Winston did.” Winston respects the historical accuracy of his vintage planes. For example, he makes the wings out of a fabric material, which is seen as quite unconventional in airplanes built in the modern world. Antique airplanes can often prove more difficult to work with than modern airplanes. The Pietenpol does not have breaks and was originally designed to have a skid instead of a taildragger, which is quite impractical when utilized on a concrete runway. Larison has modified this aspect of the plane, but still describes his current setup with the taildragger as “like driving a wheelbarrow.” Another difference about this aircraft is its original motor. The airplane flew its first six hours with the intended Ford automobile Model A engine. This is because this particular model of antique plane was originally designed by Ford mechanic Bernard Pietenpol and published in a 1929 issue of “The Flying and Glider Manuel,” which was intended as a guide to building planes at home. Larison finished his replica of the Pietenpol in 2016, completing the project in about eighteen months.
Photo credits left to right: Noah Hayes; Carolann Love
His Journey to Cars
Apart from aviation, Winston Larison is skilled in antique automobile mechanics, first adopting this passion at sixteen when he received his first car. Through spending time with his grandfather and listening to older music, he gained great respect for the golden era. His wife, Amy Brennan Larison, describes his invitation as automatic, explaining that “he always wanted a vintage car, so he built one.” Pioneering his expedition, he replicated a car that would later become one of his favorites, a 1928 Chevrolet Speedster.
Next, it was a journey to develop and perfect his craft. Consequently, because Winston was experienced in aeronautics before automobiles, he had a lot to learn. Winston eludes that designing, building and restoring cars is more difficult than planes as “cars are mechanical and cosmetic,” which is a balance more difficult to model.
Though, similar to himself, he interprets his projects to be ongoing and evolving. With each design, he gains new insights and knowledge. Through time, he has grown adept and versed in automobile mechanics and his anachronistic tendencies create an idealistic approach to this timeless expertise. Winston Larison has transformed himself into a proficient, accomplished and dedicated craftsman.
While interviewing Larison, we asked him what advice he might have for the next generation of people interested in his field. He said, “If you want to get into aviation, ask around and work for it because it's easier to get into than you think.” Larison feels that he is lucky for having achieved most of all his goals and aspirations and says that he would advise his younger self to “stick with it and it will pay off.” His wife, Amy Larison and his neighbor, Floyd Pollack, acclaimed him for his passion and skill as a mechanic and vintage enthusiast. As can be seen, Larison has pursued his interests and come out on the other side having gained a strong sense of fulfillment.
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