Joe Coraggio

Builder – Pilot – Engineer

Joe, A Brookfield, WI native, started his love for aviation at the age of 12.  As a proverbial airport kid he was known as the “ramp rat” at Capitol Drive Airport in Brookfield. Joe was inspired by all of the aviation pursuits he encountered there, not of the least of which was homebuilt airplanes.  These encounters and experiences propelled him towards his dream of a career in aviation and building his own airplane.

After graduating high school, Joe went on to graduate from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Aerospace Engineering and a minor in Astrophysics.

Joe has been a pilot and certified flight instructor for 20 years with 14 of those years as a commercial airline pilot.  He has over 10,000 hours of flight time in over 80 different types of airplanes, including an airline transport rating on the Beach 1900, Embraer 170/190 and the Airbus 320 series which he currently files for a major US Airline. 

Joe enjoys sharing his passion for aviation with others.  He is a longtime volunteer for EAA and Vice Chairman of the AirVenture Cup, which was founded to recreate the excitement of the Bendix Trophy races of the 1930s. In this role, he helped grow participation from a dozen airplanes in 1998 to more than 75 airplanes and pilots annually. His goal is to encourage all pilots to experience the thrill of air racing.  He has also given over 85 Young Eagle rides as part of the EAA Young Eagles Program.

Joe built his own highly modified Long EZ  named “Betty.” Taking 8 years and more than 4,000 man hours to build, the airplane has been flying for 5 years now.  In June 2020, a new airplane project found Joe.  It is a highly modified version of a unique airplane called a Defiant. It is the fruits of 23 years of work by the original builder who passed away unexpectedly. Joe has promised to complete the airplane so the family can one day see it fly.

Joe flew his rookie race season in his Lancair Legacy in 2019. He placed 6th in Sport Silver for the Ramp Rat Racing Team in the National Championship Air Races in Reno, NV and was also honored with Rookie of the Year. Racing in the AirVenture Cup cross country race he took 1st place in the sport class. 

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