Early Bird Type Plane
Around five years ago, I set out to experience the early days of flight (as best as I could) by designing and building a plane that could have come from that era with materials that generally could have came from that time period. What seemed like a rather simple task at first, became a five year odesy in learning much about what aviation really is. I have been a pilot since 1973 and a commercial pilot for around 15 years or so.
I was an avid reader of aviation history and often dreamed of living in the early days of aviation. I studied old photos of early aircraft and found many parts of several airplane designs I liked, so I decided to engineer those parts into one early bird type of plane. Over the five year period, I went through five different design changes and two engine and prop changes. The learning process was laborious and kept me busy in the workshop. I found a book written in 1918 on the design and building of aeroplanes. This book helped me get the project moving in the right direction.
Even though many materials came from the local hardware store and lumber yard, I did purchase all other supplies from Aircraft Spruce and have been a customer for many years. I have enclosed several photos of the plane which draws visitors almost daily to "look it over." I have had some help from different friends, but that was limited.
The plane has flown fairly well and has handling characterics that you would expect for such a drag burdened plane. It weighs around 630 lbs dry and is powered by an older model A-65 Cont. engine which I overhauled myself (with some help). The plane is very strong inspite of it's frail apperance and has be landed with power because the glide ratio is all but non-existent. This causes some pretty hard landings at times, but I am getting better. I still have some disharmony between the engine and prop which will have to be corrected, but I expect to have it on the flyin circuit by this Spring.
Over-all, I have enjoyed this experience and feel I have gained new insight into the problems encountered by the early birdmen in designing a flyable flying machine and in the curde handling characterics of this type of design.
My FAA Inspector said it was the best fabric job he had ever seen.