You Never Know Who You’ll See at AirVenture

Marc Cook, Tom Hamilton, and Omar Filipovic at AirVenture 2022. Tom Hamilton is the designer of the GlaStar experimental, seen in the background.
Early morning grounds crew, L to R: Marc Cook, Tom Hamilton, Omar Filipovic.

There I was, minding my own business. Web editor Omar Filipovic and I were preparing to leave AirVenture on Friday morning. Omar had gone off to do something, and as I was prepping my GlaStar this gentleman sidled up and started asking me about the airplane. Do you like it? (Yes, very much.) Did you build it? (No, not this one, but I did build a Sportsman—and I helpfully suggested was a close cousin of the GlaStar.)

He nodded thoughtfully as I went about my preparations. Then he said, “Actually, I know a little bit about these airplanes.” At the same instant, I recognized the voice. It was none other than Tom Hamilton, father of the Glasair and GlaStar. (Plus the Kodiak, Aerocet floats and who knows what else.) I hadn’t seen Tom in ages and, in my defense, I was neither looking for him nor wanting to miss anything in my preparations. Still, I was happy to have been pranked.

We had a good laugh about it afterward, even as I was quickly reviewing the mental transcript of the short conversation to be sure I hadn’t said something like, “I love the airplane but never use the folding wings.” Later that day, I texted the selfie photo to Ted Setzer, Tom’s cohort in the early Glasair operation at “the pig farm,” with a look-who-we-saw note. Ted jokingly responded, “Not sure. Is that one of the VanGrunsvens?”

Before we parted ways, I asked Tom what he was up to and the answer was a bit of “this and that,” but he did allow that he had a big project in the works. It could be just about anything. Nice to see you, Tom.

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Marc Cook
Marc Cook is a veteran special-interest journalist who started as a staffer at AOPA Pilot in the late 1980s. Marc has built two airplanes, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Aviation Sportsman, and now owns a 180-hp, steam-gauge-adjacent GlaStar based in western Oregon. Marc has 5000 hours spread over 200-plus types and four decades of flying.


  1. Thank you Tom Hamilton for designing such a wonderful aircraft. My wife and I absolutely love our GlaStar! We all still wonder today how many kits were built, and how many are flying now. A number have 2nd and 3rd generation owners. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to sell mine! Too much of an emotional connection with the many years of building creating a bond that one only establishes with hard work, hours of sweat equity, love, and PERSISTENCE!


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