The Air Camper was designed to be built of spruce and plywood. One of Pietenpol's goals was to create a plane that was affordable and easy to construct for home builders. Building an Air Camper requires basic woodworking skills and tools. Builders also need to fabricate some metal fittings to attach the wooden parts together. Some welding is required. The plans for the Pietenpol Aircamper were originally published in a four-part serial in the "Flying and Glider" Manual of 1932-33.
The original model was flown using an Ace four cylinder water-cooled engine. The Model A Ford engine later became the standard powerplant used. Other engines have also been used including the Ford Model T, Ford V8, Velie, Kinner, Lycoming, Franklin, Continental and Chevrolet Corvair.
In the 1960s Bernard Pietenpol began to favor converted engines from Chevrolet Corvair automobiles. The Corvair engine was smoother, stronger and significantly lighter in weight compared to the Model A. The length of a Pietenpol varies with the engine choices, as engines that are lighter than the Fords need to be mounted further out from the firewall for weight and balance reasons. Over the years over 30 different engines have flown in the Pietenpol Air Camper. Many modern Pietenpol builders prefer Continental A65, C85 or C90 powerplants. Several examples of the Aircamper have been built in Europe and are currently (2012) flying.
In the 1920s and 1930s kits were available for the design, but there were none available again until 2015 when the Pietenpol Aircraft Company introduced a kit version of the Air Camper, with components supplied by Aircraft Spruce & Specialty. The kit includes all parts except the engine, aircraft dope and the aircraft fabric covering, and hardware.
BH Pietenpol also designed and published plans for a single-seat version of the aircraft named the Pietenpol Sky Scout, which was slightly smaller and was powered by the Ford Model T engine. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, this was less expensive than the Model A used in the Air Camper.
UK LAA-approved Pietenpol Air Camper
In some countries, civil aviation authority approval is required for each experimental aircraft design, in addition to the approval of each aircraft an individual makes, as in the US. A variant of the Pietenpol Air Camper was designed by Mr. J. K. Wills, and UK Light Aircraft Association approval was obtained for this variant.