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A I R P L A N E Vol. 39, No. 12
The Waco Model ‘C’ Classy custom Cabins by Sparky Barnes Sargent
12 Going Home Again At age 12, I harbored aspirations of flying fast, like my heroes, the Mercury astronauts . . . by Philip Handleman
16 My First Airplane by Lee Hurry
Light Plane Heritage Remember the Avro Avian? by Bob Whittier
The Vintage Mechanic
Tail Wheel Installations by Robert G. Lock
The Vintage Instructor Short-Field Operations Part 2 by Steve Krog, CFI
Mystery Plane by H.G. Frautschy
STAFF EAA Publisher Director of EAA Publications Executive Editor Executive Director/Editor Production/Special Projects Photography Copy Editor
Rod Hightower J. Mac McClellan Mary Jones H.G. Frautschy Kathleen Witman Jim Koepnick Colleen Walsh
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Senior Business Relations Mgr, Trevor Janz Tel: 920-426-6809 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Little Smooth Air
Manager/European-Asian, Willi Tacke Phone: +49(0)1716980871 Email: email@example.com
by Michelle Souder
Fax: +49(0)8841 / 496012
Classified Advertising Coordinator, Jo Ann Cody Simons Tel: 920-426-6169 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT COVER: In the days before World War II, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) and its predecessor, the Department of Commerce, Aeronautics Branch, had a stable of aircraft to be used by inspectors in the field. This 1939 Waco AGC-8 was one of those airplanes. You can enjoy the story of its history and restoration in Sparky Barnes Sargent’s article starting on page 5. EAA photo by EAA’s chief photographer, Jim Koepnick. BACK COVER: With a nod to longtime EAA editorial contributor Bob Whittier, who reminded us of this cover, we bring you the seasonally appropriate cover artwork by Stewart Rouse of the December 1933 issue of Model Airplane News, featuring a Christmastime message stamped in the snow to greet the pilot of the “New Heath Parasol.”
For missing or replacement magazines, or any other membership-related questions, please call EAA Member Services at 800- JOIN-EAA (564-6322).
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 1
Merry Christmas! • Happy Holidays! • Happy New Year!
On behalf of the oﬃcers, directors, and the staﬀ of the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association, we wish each of you peace, joy, and prosperity during the holiday season and throughout the new year, with many days of safe, enjoyable ﬂying!
Paul Poberezny Rod Hightower Geoff Robison George Daubner Dan Knutson Steve Nesse Steve Bender Dave Bennett Bob Brauer
Jerry Brown Gene Chase Dave Clark Jack Copeland Phil Coulson Ron Fritz Dale Gustafson Charlie Harris Buck Hilbert and the entire staﬀ of the EAA
2 DECEMBER 2011
Jeannie Hill Butch Joyce Steve Krog Bob Lumley Gene Morris Wes Schmid John Turgyan H.G. Frautschy Theresa Books
John Underwood Inducted Into VAA Hall of Fame
Tom Poberezny Inducted Into San Diego Hall of Fame Congratulations to EAA Chairman Emeritus Tom Poberezny, who was inducted into the San Diego International Air & Space Hall of Fame on November 5. Tom was honored for his leadership of EAA, his 25-year air show career, and the creation of EAA’s Young Eagles program. Other inductees included Apollo astronaut Walt Cunningham, Voyager pilot Dick Rutan, the U.S. Navy TOPGUN school, and World War II pilot Jerry Coleman, perhaps better known as a second baseman for the New York Yankees in the 1950s and a Hall of Fame baseball broadcaster. Paul Poberezny had been inducted into the same hall of fame in 1996.
EAA Mourns Death of Longtime Aircraft Technician EAA staff members are mourning the loss of co-worker Ted Mos-
During ceremonies held the evening of October 27, 2011, noted author and aviation history enthusiast John Under wood was inducted into the Vintage Aircraft Association’s Hall of Fame. Other inductees included Jack Geoff Robison, John Underwood, and Rod Hightower. McCornack of Cave Junction, Oregon (Ultralight Hall of Fame), the late Tony LeVier of La Canada, California (International Aerobatic Club Hall of Fame), the late David B. Lindsay Jr. of Sarasota, Florida (Warbirds of America Hall of Fame), and Ed Fisher of Gilbert, South Carolina (Homebuilders Hall of Fame). “Each of these five individuals has made a unique contribution to the world of flight that has benefited all of us,” said Rod Hightower, EAA president and CEO. “These inductees serve as an example for everyone involved in flying and represent the best that recreational aviation has to offer. We recognize their commitment and passion for flying and are honored to welcome them into the EAA Sport Aviation Hall of Fame.” We’ll have more on Underwood’s lifetime in aviation in the January issue of Vintage Airplane. man, whose expertise in aircraft maintenance kept EAA’s B-17 and Ford Tri-Motor fl ying on tour for the past 20 years. Mosman died on October 20 after a battle with cancer. He was 57. Mosman, an Iowa native, joined EAA in 1980 when the organization’s headquarters were in the Milwaukee area, then made the move to Oshkosh with EAA in the early 1980s. He was an integral part of EAA’s B-17 and TriMotor restorations and worked on
every aircraft owned by the organization. He also assisted air show performers and others who hangared aircraft at the Kermit Weeks Flight Research Center during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. “Whenever we needed something done on the B-17 when it was on the road, Ted was right there; he was a natural mechanic,” EAA Founder Paul Poberezny said. “He’d always go along on the test flight afterward and listen to make sure everything was right.”
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 3
Louie Andrew Honored With Henry Kimberly Leadership Award More Information on Bellanca N6561N As is often the case with our vintage aircraft, there’s much more to the story of an aircraft featured in our pages than meets the eye. Such is the case of Bellanca Cruisemaster N6561N, and in the caption accompanying the photo of the airplane published in the October issue, we should have filled in a few more blanks. Prior to being acquired by its current owner, Ron Hansen, it was owned by Al Pontious and Jere Calef. After being damaged when the left main gear leg collapsed on landing at the Columbia, California, airport during the annual Bellanca fly-in, the airplane was declared to be a total loss by an insurance company. It was disassembled and placed in storage pending its disposition. The most likely outcome was that the airplane would be sold for parts. Pontious, who has owned, maintained, and restored Bellancas for many years and who is a well-known expert on Bellanca aircraft, did not want to see another Bellanca delegated to the parts bin, so he and Calef purchased the pieces, brought them home to Mojave, and began the repair/restoration. In addition to the damage caused by the gear collapse, there was significant damage inflicted when the aircraft was disassembled and transported to the storage facility. After a little more than a year’s worth of effort, N6561N again took to the skies in the condition shown in the October issue. Mr. Hansen subsequently purchased the aircraft from the partners, who were glad to see another Bellanca cruising the skies.
Longtime Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, attorney Louie Andrew was awarded the Henry Kimberly Spirit of Leadership Award for his volunteer efforts on behalf of EAA and the community during the Sport Aviation Hall of Fame banquet October 27 at the EAA Aviation Center in Oshkosh. As part of the award, named for renowned Oshkosh busiLouie Andrew
ness leader and EAA suppor ter Henry Kimberly, Andrew received a
$1,000 prize to designate toward any of EAA’s programs. Andrew’s advice, knowledge of the community and region, and passion for flight contribute to his effectiveness in his role as interim chairman of EAA’s board of directors. He also ser ves as chairman of EAA’s executive committee and a director for the International Aerobatic Club. He began flying at the Fond du Lac airport at age 14, soloed on his 16th birthday, and obtained his private pilot certificate at age 17. Andrew, who holds single- and multi-engine land and instrument ratings, flies a Piper Aztec and an Aeronca Super Chief that are based at Fond du Lac County Airport. Andrew, a University of Notre Dame and Marquette University Law School graduate, has been a practicing attorney in Fond du Lac for 45 years, specializing in corporate and real estate law. He also owns and operates Guaranty Service Group Inc., which operates seven title insurance offices and provides ser vices to lend-
VAA Dues Per Section VI., Dues, of the VAA’s bylaws, the VAA board of directors has voted to set the yearly dues of the association at $42 per year, effective March 1, 2012.
4 DECEMBER 2011
ers in the state of Wisconsin and six other Midwestern states. Andrew and his wife, Sue, live in Fond du Lac and are parents of five children.
Waco Model “C”
Classy Custom Cabins BY
SPARKY BARNES SARGENT JIM KOEPNICK
trio of grand old Waco C-8 Cabin models gleamed magnificently under the summer sun at EAA AirVenture 2010, just as the vintage field began thoroughly drying out from record rainfalls. Like the sunshine, these luxury custom Cabin Wacos were a welcome sight. Fewer than 30 of these biplanes were manufactured, and it’s estimated that about half exist today, with less than a handful in flyable condition. Of the threesome, Bob and Barb Perkins’ Waco AGC-8 (N20908) was manufactured in 1939 under ATC
664. The “A” denotes its 300-hp Jacobs L-6 engine. Jim Clark’s Waco (NC61KS) rolled off the production line in 1939 as an AGC-8, but was soon converted to a model EGC-8. The “E” denotes the 320-hp (supercharged to 350-hp) Wright R760-E2. Bill McCormick’s Waco (NC2279) was originally manufactured under ATC 665 as an EGC-8. Waco’s “C” Model was spry yet gentle, and pilots still appreciate it for its quick takeoffs and slow landings, in addition to its other fine qualities. Let’s take a closer look at the septuagenarian Wright-powered EGC-8.
The Luxury EGC-8 Cabin Model Waco produced seven EGC-8s. The EGC-8 had seating for five, with an overall wingspan of 34 feet, 9 inches (lower wingspan of 24 feet 4 inches) and a length of 27 feet 4 inches from nose to tail. It towered 8 feet, 7-1/2 inches tall and had a 108-inch-wide gear tread. The EGC-8 weighed 2,447 pounds empty, had a payload of 563 pounds, and had a gross weight of 3,800 pounds. Its mighty Wright turned a Hamilton Standard controllable propeller, and with 95 gallons of fuel
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 5
A company brochure about the Waco Model “C” Cabin models.
SPARKY BARNES SARGENT PHOTOS
NC2279’s instrument panel.
A peek inside NC2279’s exquisitely detailed cabin. 6 DECEMBER 2011
NC2279 is finished in Henry King’s signature paint scheme.
available, it burned 18 gph while enjoying a cruising speed of 147 mph (up to 159 mph at optimum altitude) and a range of 713 miles (with 15 percent reserve). The standard color for the “C” Model’s hand-rubbed, lustrous finish was Gunmetal Gray, but customers could also choose from the optional Waco Vermilion (which added 33 pounds to the empty weight), Insignia Blue (which added 7 pounds), or Silver. A company brochure touted the Waco Model “C” as representing the finest in air travel, since its “refined streamlining was responsible for faster airspeed, and a lengthened fuselage with an efficient flap design provided better control at slow landing speeds.” Designed for pilot and passenger comfort alike, this model featured elegant interiors that could also accommodate a variety of cargo, since the biplane was “…offered with a freighter interior and may also be equipped as an aerial ambulance. When so equipped, the stretcher is concealed when not in use and the usual passenger interior remains unimpaired.” One especially interesting feature were the split flaps: “At any time prior to landing if unexpected obstructions appear, the throttle may be opened fully and the flaps
will close themselves automatically and slowly without further loss of altitude and without effort on the pilot’s part. When the emergency has passed the pilot may close the flap control valve until ready to use it again.” With fresh air supplied to the cabin (from intakes in the wings), ashtrays for those who smoked, and a comfortable back seat where passengers could relax into “aerial naps,” the Model “C” was designed to please. Special design consideration was also given to mechanics who would maintain these flying machines: “It is a delightful experience for a mechanic to study this WACO and see the care that has been taken to make the entire airplane readily accessible for service attention with a minimum of time and effort.” Speaking of maintenance and more, each of the EGC-8s that flew in to AirVenture (NC2279 and NC61KS) were recently restored to virtually authentic configurations and have their own bit of noteworthy history to share.
The ‘King’ Waco NC2279, a 1938 Waco EGC-8, is owned and flown by Bill McCormick of Clarkston, Michigan. It was restored by Rare Aircraft Ltd. of Faribault, Minnesota, and received the Bronze Age (1937-1941) Outstanding Closed Cockpit Biplane— Small Plaque during AirVenture. No doubt its original owner, Henry King, were he alive today, would be quite proud that the biplane is not only an award winner, but that it looks just like it did when he owned it. Henry King was a movie director, and perhaps best known by aviation enthusiasts for Twelve O’Clock High and A Yank in the RAF. Born in January 1886, he first started directing movies three years before earning his pilot’s license in 1918. He built an impressive career as he continued directing for nearly half a century and was one of the top directors in Hollywood during the
1920s and ’30s. His achievements included directing more than 100 movies, receiving the first Golden Globe Award in 1944, and being one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
“It’s one thing to have an antique airplane that is beautiful to look at, but an antique airplane that flies as friendly as this airplane—it’s a real joy!” —Jim Clark
Throughout his career, he remained an avid aviator, and a sportsman pilot—his personalized private aircraft insignia appears in The Amateur Air Pilots Register as early as 1934. In September 1938, King took deliver y of NC2279 (s/n 5064). It was the fourth of five Wacos he owned. Each one was finished in his signature color scheme—vermilion with black and gold trim. Notably, his passion for flying led him to become one of the founding fathers of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) during World War II. King served as the deputy commander of the CAP Coastal Patrol Base in Brownsville, Texas.
King owned NC2279 until 1940, when he traded it in. Waco then sold the biplane to Eastern Coal Corporation of Bluefield, West Virginia. The government bought it in 1942, and three years later, it landed in the hands of a citizen in San Diego, California—at that time, its registration number had been changed to NC50610. This Waco flew from owner to owner through the years, but then languished from the early 1960s for several decades. Eventually it wound up in Vancouver, British Columbia, as a project. In 2004, Bill McCormick of Clarkston, Michigan, purchased it. The airframe had a total time of 3,115:45 hours, and McCormick decided to have it disassembled and trucked to Rare Aircraft for reassembly. That’s when it became apparent that the old biplane needed a substantial amount of work, and an 18-month restoration ensued. Jeremy Redman of Rare Aircraft explains: “The airplane came to us covered and painted, and we started getting ready to put stuff together, when we saw corrosion on the fuselage. We started punch testing a couple of tubes and found a rotten cluster. And then we were inspecting the wings and found a couple of cracked spars. Also, there was rot back in the stabilizer ,and we thought, ‘Man, we have to do something here!’ Bill agreed, and it essentially turned into darn near a full restoration. We built four new wings; interestingly, one upper wing assembly on this custom Cabin Waco consumes more labor than the entire wing set on a UPF7. We also rebuilt the tail feathers. There were some compression failures where the steel fittings bolted on to the stabilizer and the airframe, and this model has a cantilever stabilizer, so it’s very important that the integrity of the wood is good.” Additionally, Rare Aircraft repaired the fuselage and engine mount, rebuilt the ailerons, replaced fairings and leading edges, and fabricated new wing flaps. While they were at it, they also fabricated a new aluminum bulkhead
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 7
SPARKY BARNES SARGENT PHOTOS
The instrument panel in NC61KS.
The original Switlik parachute seats were modified so they now have a roomy pocket for stowing items. 8 DECEMBER 2011
for the panel and a stainless firewall. They restored the cowling and dishpan, rebuilt the landing gear, re-bushed the tail wheel support assembly, and fabricated new fuel and oil tanks. To facilitate flying and communicating in today’s airspace, a VHF transceiver, transponder, encoder, intercom, and Whelen strobe system were installed. While the airframe work was transpiring, the engine was being overhauled as well. “Mike Connor overhauled the Wright R760-E2 engine,” says Jeremy, declaring, “He’s the Wright guru. I dare say, I don’t know if there’s anybody out there who could do a Wright as well as he could.” In the interest of safe ground maneuvering, Cleveland wheels
and brakes were installed. “We did a conversion on this one, and did articulating toe brake pedals and removed the original pedals,” describes Jeremy, “and it really transforms the handling of the airplane. If you just put a toe brake pedal on top of the rudder pedal, when you have full left rudder in, it’s like you can’t push the brake pedal. It gets really precarious, and in these big heavy taildraggers like this, you need some brake when you’re on the last part of the roll out, because your control surfaces aren’t going to overtake the mass of the airplane if it starts to divert. “The owner, Bill, has a dog that jumps up on the hat shelf and goes with him when he flies this,” Jeremy says with a smile, adding, “he’s a business executive, so you might say that the biplane is doing the same thing in 2010 that it did in 1938—transporting executives. Bill has always had airplanes, and he’s active with his local EAA chapter.”
The ‘CAA’ Waco Jim Clark of Chapman, Kansas, flew NC61KS (s/n 5072), his 1939 Waco EGC-8, to AirVenture this summer. He arrived in good company, with his grandson Brody Clark, who is already a veteran AirVenture attendee at age 12, and young friend Patrick McElligott, who is a mentor in their local EAA Chapter 1364’s Wing Nuts youth program. They taxied in to the Vintage area, drawing admirers even before they tied down and set up their camping tent. This black and
Jim Clark brought some good company with him to AirVenture—his grandson, Brody, and Brody’s young friend, Patrick.
SPARKY BARNES SARGENT PHOTOS
orange Cabin Waco is unmistakable, with its large Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) logo carefully painted on the broad fuselage. Jim also flew the biplane to the AAA/ APM Fly-in in Blakesburg, Iowa, where it received the Sweepstakes Classic (1936 to 1941) award. “Three or four years ago, I started looking for a Cabin Waco,” says Jim with a smile, “because I wanted a big flying SUV that could carry all my stuff! So I started going all over the countr y looking and could not find one that I wanted to buy or restore. This airplane was located only 15 miles from my home, and its longtime owner, EAA member Chuck Hall, was a friend of mine. I bought it in September 2007, and even though it hadn’t flown for about 18 years, it had been stored properly.” Jim became intrigued by the history of his “new” Waco, and his research revealed that NC61KS was one of eight model AGC-8s that were originally ordered by the CAA. His Waco’s first bill of sale was from Waco Aircraft to the CAA and was dated August 17, 1939. Registered as NC-61, it was delivered to the Air Safety Board and was based in Garden City, Long Island, New York. Just a few years later, the CAA ordered an engine change. “The CAA had all those Wacos converted to the supercharged 350hp Wright R760-E2 and changed the model number from AGC-8 to EGC-8. The aircraft records show that a CAA Repair and Alteration Form dated June 18, 1941, was
Jeremy Redman of Rare Aircraft Ltd. demonstrates NC2279’s split flap. completed by the Spartan School of Aeronautics, and it listed the ‘removal of Jacobs L6MB and installation of Wright R760E-2 as per form 337.’ Then in December 1945, NC-61 was declared surplus and had registration number NC69607 when it was released [from government service in the mid 1940s]. After Chuck bought the airplane in 1970, he got the registration number back as close as he could to NC61, by adding ‘KS’ for Kansas.” Before Raven Aero Service could begin restoring NC61KS, it sent a couple of its technicians to go over it and get it ready for a short
ferry flight from Manhattan to its shop in Junction City. “The engine had been pickled properly, so we could bring that back to life,” recounts Jim, “but the brake lines were corroded into solid rods— so we ran new brake lines and had the master cylinders rebuilt. I learned through the National Waco Club online forum that the Cleveland wheels and brakes for the late-model Cessna 310 also fit a 1939 Cabin Waco EGC-8. So I ordered a set, and we jacked the airplane up and bolted the brakes on—without having to make a single modification. I’m a member
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 9
SPARKY BARNES SARGENT
NC61KS in the Vintage area at EAA AirVenture 2010. of both the National Waco Club and the American Waco Club, and both are great groups. National has a very active [online] forum, with a tremendous wealth of knowledge.” The ferry flight took only 40 minutes—and Jim made sure that Chuck was in the right seat. The restoration started in November 2007, and was completed in July 2010. The biplane, covered and finished with Superflite, was brilliant in its CAA black and orange livery—a far cry from its previous pale green and red scheme—and the pleasing scent of new leather permeated the spacious cabin. Once again, Chuck was in the right seat when Jim made the first flight after restoration. Just a few modifications were made during the restoration—the first being the new wheels and brakes. Another change involved relocating the oil cooler to solve an overheating problem. “The original oil cooler was behind the dish pan and almost against the firewall,” explains Jim, “so airflow was nonexistent. I became acquainted with Addison Pemberton—a great guy and aircraft restorer—and I no-
10 DECEMBER 2011
“...interestingly, one upper wing assembly on this custom Cabin Waco consumes more labor than the entire wing set on a UPF-7.” —Jeremy Redman
ticed when I was at his hangar in Spokane that he hung the coolers underneath all his aircraft. So he sent me some pictures and helped us out. We reformed the cooler and belly-hung it—and it has just worked excellently!” Additionally, and similarly to NC2279, Jim’s Waco received new navigation and communication equipment. “We went with Becker in-panel radios, transponder, and comm,” shares Jim, “and I do have weather on a Garmin 496, but it’s covered by the original ‘coffee grinder crank’ radio face.” It takes a discerning eye to observe several unique features of NC61KS. Perhaps the most obvious is the second rear door. Less obvious is the fact that the doors have a jettison lever—and yes, that feature is still functional. An “Emergency - Do Not Touch” sign warns the rear-seat passengers not to turn the handle. A cursory glance at the pilot and passenger seat backs reveals deep, wide pockets for stowing items—a clever use of space made available when the original Switlik parachute seats were modified. Also, the small baggage compartment aft of the
rear seat was neatly converted to Waco’s freighter configuration for extra cargo space. One more item is the original wood rack for holding emergency flares, which is mounted inside the fuselage, in the cargo area. Jim doesn’t have the actual flares, but he dummied the location on the side of the fuselage by using inspection rings and fabric patches. One significant challenge that Jim encountered was locating the proper CAA emblem for the fuselage. “In 1939, the CAA used a five-point compass rose with their name in it, and wings and a s h i e l d t h a t h a d t h e Wr i g h t Flyer on it. But in 1940 they were under the Department of Commerce, so they changed the emblem to an office building and a shock of wheat. We researched e x t e n s i v e l y, b u t d i d n ’t f i n d a complete photo of the 1939 emblem. We had a picture of the CAA airplanes in a hangar, so we went by that as much as possible. Also, the CAA did not use the color trim around the windows, so the fuselage stripe was positioned higher than on the other Cabin Wacos.”
Flying the EGC-8 Jim has about 700 hours’ tailwheel time, and flies a Piper Pacer and Cub regularly. He was pleasantly surprised by the EGC-8’s gentle flying characteristics—with one exception. “On takeoff, I let it come off the ground about 60 mph, then climb out at 80 mph for the first 100 feet. Then I go to 90 mph and get a nice climb rate out of it. Cruise climb is about 100 mph, and I get about 500 fpm climb at that. I don’t push it; I watch the cylinder head temps closely. She cruises about 130 mph. Then on downwind and base, I fly about 100 mph, and I don’t cross the fence under 80 mph—below that is a danger zone, because when you start flaring with those big flaps down, you lose 20 mph and she’s on the runway; there is no float. I think you’d better have the runway made when you deploy the flaps,” he says and laughs heartily, then adds, “but when you’re on final, and you’re sure you’re high and fast, you’re just right—drop those flaps and wow, you hit the numbers! But this is not a challenging airplane in my opinion. In fact, I wouldn’t put an
EGC-8 driver in my Pacer and expect him to do okay. This is just a big, friendly, predictable, nicehandling biplane, so I’m thrilled with my choice. She is just a sweetheart to fly. It’s one thing to have an antique airplane that is beautiful to look at, but an antique airplane that flies as friendly as this airplane—it’s a real joy!” Smiling as he reflects about these classy custom Cabins, he shares, “the C-8s have gotten more attention from the restoration crowd lately. They fly great, land easy, and with the gear ‘down and welded,’ they’re not nearly as complex as the antique retractables—and they’re strong enough to handle bumpy grass strips with nary a shrug.” So with a tip o’ the hat to history, it’s rather pleasant to imagine the nostalgic reactions that Henry King and the CAA pilots who flew NC-61 might have, if they ambled through the vintage field. They’d likely declare in quite the surprised tone, “Hey, I recognize that Waco! I can’t believe it’s still flying!” To which the owners might nod affirmatively and respond, “Want to take her up around the patch?”
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 11
Going Home Again At age 12, I harbored aspirations of flying high and fast, like my heroes, the Mercury astronauts… BY
prominent man of letters famously wrote, “You can’t go home again.” The proposition has been debated ever since. Some interpret the familiar maxim to mean we are unable to repeat a cherished experience because reunions, anniversaries, homecomings, and the like simply lack the spontaneity that captivated us initially. But I’m not so sure that the magic and wonder of first encounters are necessarily out of our grasp
12 DECEMBER 2011
for the remainder of our lives. Somehow it seems we ought to be able to reach back and capture past felicity. And even if impassable barriers block our way physically, who is so presumptuous to assert that rekindling moments of endearment in the surroundings we currently inhabit constitutes a bridge too far? It was an early spring day in 1963. The breaking dawn bared a dew-moistened landscape under a clarion sky. Seizing the fortuity, my parents granted my longstanding wish for an airplane ride. That brisk
morning they drove me to a grass airstrip nestled in an outlying suburb of Cleveland. The field was strewn with airworthy Piper Cubs, the classic all-yellow J-3 models with feisty four-cylinder, 65-hp engines. High-time Cubs, identifiable by their oil-splattered fuselages, were for sale at the bargain price of $600. Less-worn Cubs, whose fabric retained the factoryfresh mustardy sheen, were offered for the princely sum of a $1,000. The telltale smell of butyrate dope and burnt fuel, the sweet
aroma unique to airports, wafted in the air. Every once in a while, one of the high-wing taildraggers taxied into position, and when the engine revved up from a gentle putt-putt to a high-pitched raspy buzz, the plane sped down the emerald carpet of freshly sprouted grass and rose skyward. The transition from ground to air manifested what seemed to be the singular response to an irresistible summons. Like the gazelles that run wild on the vast stretches of the Serengeti, the machines were evidently drawn into the domain that beckoned their occupants with expectations of release from earthly burdens. At age 12, I harbored aspirations of flying high and fast, like my heroes, the Mercury astronauts, whose
forays into the new frontier had begun just two years earlier. Cape Canaveral was their portal to the heavens, but for at least a couple of the original seven space travelers, the genesis of their remarkable journeys was a small airfield near their childhood homes. My nascent aerial odyssey began similarly, at the charming, if unadorned, Chagrin Falls Airport. The grass was green, the sky was blue, and every direction I turned there were agile yellow ships ready to sail on voyages of discovery. The airport’s verdant landscape and tinny hangars evoked the perfect aura for my maiden flight. Everyone on the field, from the mechanics in grease-stained coveralls to my uniformed instructor pilot, ap-
peared to be devoid of the conceits and affectations I had experienced elsewhere. Instead, they projected a sense of high purpose, a desire to do something grand—not for material reward, but for the satisfaction that came from the doing itself. And as such, these otherwise common men were, in my eyes, noblemen. The miracle of the Piper Cub was that it made the sky accessible to whoever had a desire to flirt with the clouds. In a way, the remarkable airplane’s evolution started in 1911 when an adolescent named Clarence Gilbert Taylor saw Calbraith Perry Rodgers amble by in a garishly decorated Wright B biplane dubbed the Vin Fiz. The flimsy and mishap-prone crate was participating in a flight contest to cross the country in fewer than 30 days. From that day forward, the teenager later known as C.G. Taylor was intent on building his own planes. By 1927, he was designing lightplanes with his brother Gordon in their hometown of Rochester, New York. The first design was a two-place, high-wing configuration called the Chummy because of its snug side-by-side seating. In 1929, city development officials and private investors lured the brothers to Bradford, Pennsylvania, where they formed Taylor Brothers Aircraft Co. Among their financial backers was William T. Piper, a member of a local farm family. Mr. Piper had served in the Army during World War I, and subsequently earned a mechanical engineering degree from Harvard. He had interests in oil and real estate, but no background in aviation. The brothers’ timing could hardly have been worse. The stock market crashed that autumn, signaling the onset of the Great Depression. In 1931, overhead costs in the face of declining sales made bankruptcy unavoidable. The only buyer for the assets was Mr. Piper, who paid $761 to become the sole owner. He shortened the company name to Taylor Aircraft Company.
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 13
Hopes for the struggling business rode on C.G. Taylor’s latest design, the E-2. This was a refinement of prior designs that sought to appeal to flying schools as a light and economical tandem-seat trainer. The E-2 was formally named the Cub, and the models that rolled out of the factory had the name emblazoned on the fin. Conflicting accounts continue to muddle the story of how the name “Cub” was adopted and who conceived it. It is certainly true that success has a thousand fathers, for there were at least several company employees, an advertising executive, and an airport manager who claimed paternity. Regardless of its provenance, the name took on legendary status. It eventually encompassed not just the more than 30,000 single-engine lightplanes of similar configuration built by Taylor/Piper in succeeding years, but virtually every plane subsequently produced that bore a resemblance to the Taylor design. Cub became synonymous with lightplanes, as Lear did with corporate jets. The little plane was dreadfully underpowered, but that changed when Continental Motors developed the A-40 four-cylinder, horizontally opposed engine. This light 37-hp engine had been the missing link, and once incorporated into the Cub it changed the company’s fortunes and the course of history. To be sure, early problems plagued the new engine, but once the wrinkles were ironed out, the airplane sold like hotcakes. In 1933, a newly graduated engineer from Rutgers University showed up looking for work. Walter Corey Jamouneau was originally hired as an unpaid engineer, and was the only person on the factory floor with a college degree. He proved to be a jack-ofall-trades, excelling at manufacturing, sales, and design. Four months after starting with no salary, he was being paid $15 a week. With Mr. Piper’s encouragement, he significantly redesigned the Taylor E-2. Because of the extensive changes, a new model designation was required.
14 DECEMBER 2011
The company decided on J-2, which many believe was a way for the corporate executives to recognize the young engineer, whose surname began with the letter J. More likely, the company simply stuck with its existing designation system, which had already reached the letter H. Proponents of this theory believe the company skipped over the letter I to avoid confusing it with the number 1.
Regardless of its provenance, the name took on legendary status. The J-2 received certification on February 14, 1936, and was marketed as the New Cub. However, not all had been going smoothly in the executive echelon. Mr. Taylor couldn’t stand to see his design tinkered with. Moreover, he fundamentally disagreed with Mr. Piper over the business plan, which called for selling a higher volume of planes at lower prices. The discord reached an impasse, and Mr. Taylor left the company in December 1935. He moved to Alliance, Ohio, where he made highly regarded sideby-side two-seaters under the Taylorcraft banner. The Bradford factory had served the company well, but it was rife with fire hazards. It erupted into flames late on March 16, 1937, and was left a smoldering hulk. Luckily, no one was injured, and 15 airplanes were moved to safety. By summer, operations and personnel began moving to an abandoned 100,000-square-foot silk mill in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, 85 miles from Bradford. Roads, rail lines, and the
Susquehanna River made the Lock Haven plant readily accessible by conventional means. Importantly, the city had offered to construct a 2,000foot hard-surface runway as an incentive for the company’s relocation. Despite the company’s many challenges, Mr. Jamouneau was charged with further improving the Cub. He replaced the tailskid with a tail wheel, flight instruments were added to the panel, a higher grade of steel tubing was used to accommodate larger engines, and seat cushions were installed for increased comfort. This variant of the Cub was designated the J-3. The first of these iconic models was rolled out in the autumn of 1937. It sported what became the familiar all-yellow paint scheme highlighted by black stripes along the sides of the fuselage, as well as the teddy bear emblem on the fin. As Carroll V. Glines points out in his superb history of the Cub, the shade of yellow brightened after World War II, when butyrate dope instead of nitrate was used for finishing. In November that same year, the company opted to change its name to avoid confusion with C.G. Taylor’s new firm. William Piper had labored to make ends meet through the hard times, even foregoing a salary for part of the troubled decade. It was only logical that the company’s name should be Piper Aircraft Corporation. By the end of 1940, with war clouds on the horizon, Cubs were churned out of the expanded Lock Haven factory at a rate of 125 a week. During the global conflict, Piper Cubs played meaningful roles, notably as Army liaison airplanes with the designation L-4. Among various duties, they served as aerial ambulances, artillery spotters, and VIP transports. Moreover, Piper boasted that four of every five U.S. military pilots during the war had received their introductory flight instruction in the company’s airplanes. After the war, surplus Cubs flooded the market. Also, tricycle-gear designs were catching on as the pre-
ferred configuration. Production of the ubiquitous Cub ceased in 1947, though a considerably beefed-up look-alike, known as the PA-18 Super Cub, was introduced in 1949 for utility-type operations. The Cub had had an amazing run. Records indicate that 22,206 civil variants and 8,197 military variants were built. The most numerous model was the J-3 with a total of 9,782 completed. The Cub was unquestionably the Model T of the air. In the hopeful aftermath of World War II, Mr. Piper penned an autobiographical book that talked up the business of general aviation. America was back to work and at peace. The future seemed limitless. The book’s concluding paragraph embodied that optimistic outlook as Mr. Piper laid out his deep convictions about lightplane flying and the people who do it. He stated, “A healthy personal plane industry is of great material and social value to the United States. The private pilot serves as one of the most effective instruments of goodwill.” Amen. The Cub that would provide my ride had taxied up. I shook hands with the pilot, M.R. Smith, and bid a temporary adieu to my parents. It must have been a special day for them, too, a culmination of sorts. My mother grew up on the periphery of the Cleveland Municipal Airport (now Hopkins International) during the golden age of flight. She scaled the fence Labor Day weekends throughout the 1930s and beheld the National Air Races, arguably the greatest aviation spectacles of all time. She later went to work as a ticket agent at that very airport and met my father there shortly after World War II, as he re-acclimated to civilian life following three years in the Army Air Forces as a desk-bound sergeant at a couple of air bases. The two of them knew that extraordinary things can happen at airports. I buckled into the back seat of N98029. Without fanfare, Mr. Smith switched on the Cub’s engine. He hollered to me over the cacophony to cup, not grip, the control stick
with my right hand, motioning as he spoke, and to place my feet over the rudder pedals. I would follow his inputs on the controls. Through the Cub’s side window, I caught a glimpse of Mom and Dad. I waved, but my attention quickly shifted back to the airplane. The Cub taxied far more bumpily than I had imagined. This was it, though, the nonpareil event, the lissome ship about to lift its eager passenger on its high-spread wings into its exalted realm. We taxied a long way to be able to take off into the wind. The waddling S-turns across the field enabled a slow-motion survey of the whole airstrip, a chance to absorb the scene from the privileged vantage point reserved only for those in an airplane’s cockpit. I was in sync with the resplendent and invigorating gateway to my dreams. This was the most magical place in the world. The noise was louder inside the Cub than out as we clattered down that rough-hewn runway, throttle full open. Before I knew it, we were airborne and climbing. We leveled off soon because it didn’t make sense to go high during a 15-minute orientation flight. The hum of the engine subsided as the rush of air became aurally dominant. The horizon defined our relationship to the globe, which wended beneath us at a crawl. We were one with the sky, like a vessel floating on gentle ocean currents, more skiff than speedboat. My nervousness was more than balanced by the sense of adventure. Mr. Smith turned his head to check on me. He saw a 12-year-old transfixed by the sight-picture and beaming with joy. With a steady hand, Mr. Smith performed gentle turns left and right. He told me to coordinate stick and rudder, to feel the airplane. Yes, it was rudimentary, the first building block of airmanship, but I was flying. The world wasn’t so big anymore; it could be tamed. I was, briefly, the master of my fate, an individualist empowered to exercise a newfound
independence and ride the wind in whatever direction my heart deemed desirable. I had discovered the dream of flight, which is the dream that anything is possible. The quaint airport where I was initiated into the milieu of fliers has long since given way to the vagaries of real estate development. Where once Piper Cubs gathered momentum in dashes for the sky, homes now predominate in the archetypical grid work of late-20th century American subdivisions. According to a database search, the faithful airplane, good old N98029, was eventually stricken from the federal registry, its assorted parts perhaps languishing forgotten and forlorn in someone’s barn, awaiting either the brusque consignment of the junkman or the affectionate rejuvenation of the restorer. Notwithstanding the Cub’s reported disposition, the flight in that unassuming ship lives on where it matters most. In the precious minutes that I sailed on its mustard wings, the kingdom of the sky was revealed and it touched my soul. So, no matter what airplane has been handy since, I feel that I have gone home again and still do each time I rumble down a grass strip, raise the tail wheel, ease back on the stick, and reenter the Cub’s rarefied and everlasting domain.
Further Reading Piper Cubs by Peter M. Bowers. TAB Books, 1993. Mr. Piper and His Cubs by Devon Francis. Iowa State University Press, 1973. Those Legendary Piper Cubs: Their Role in War and Peace by Carroll V. Glines. Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2005. Piper: A Legend Aloft by Edward H. Phillips. Flying Books International, 1993. Private Flying: Today and Tomorrow by William T. Piper. Pitman Publishing Company, 1949. The Piper Cub Stor y by James M. Triggs. TAB Books, 1978.
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 15
My First Airplane BY
VAA 1473, MEMBER SINCE 1974
oward the end of World War II, in 1944, a limited amount of civilian flying resumed after being mostly banned since the beginning of the war for the United States. With no civilian airplane production authorized, we were using the old prewar Cubs and Aeroncas with 50- and 65-hp Franklins, Lycomings, and Continentals— many of them from the now defunct Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) program. With a disability pension from the Air Corps, I was back home in Minnesota, and with those extra funds, and by swapping a few of my guns, I was able to make a deal to get my private certificate from a local instructor/A&P mechanic in his personal J-3 Cub. By then I had progressed from crutches to a cane, which we were able to stash in the Cub. Later we heard about a fellow over at Rochester, Minnesota, who had an old Cub for sale. He was flight testing his freshly constructed Pietenpol, and he needed the money. My flying buddy and I looked the Cub over. It was flying and in license, a 1937 Piper J-2 with the little 40horse Continental. Since this engine had only a single mag, it actually only made 37 hp; the later models with dual mags put out 40 hp.
16 DECEMBER 2011
The owner wouldn’t budge on his $200 asking price, but after haggling a bit he finally offered to include another plane he had in his hangar. This was a dismantled but complete and virtually identical 1936 Taylor Cub, which needed a total rebuild. That clinched the deal, as we knew we could profitably part it out. I won the coin toss to fly the in-license Cub home to Mankato, with my partner driving back. Then we returned with a trailer to haul the other one home. We sold the fuselage and engine, which ended up being modified into a snow machine; this was fairly common in those days before snowmobiles. I reworked the complete empennage into the J-3 configuration, and along with the wing struts, I used them on a Piper L-4, which I was building up for our Civil Air Patrol squadron. The wings ended up with Norm Sten, which were to be used with a float-equipped fuselage he had acquired. He never did get that project completed, and the wings ended up in Dick Christianson’s hangar behind the hangars of Arden Magnuson’s Tailwind and Dick Harden’s Cessna 140 at Flying Cloud Airport in St. Paul, Minnesota. These were all EAA Chapter 25 members. Dick
always said he was going to use them on an original-design ultralight, but he never did. The early J-2s had tailskids, but since Rochester now had a surfaced runway, the airplane had been converted to a tailwheel. Mankato was still sod, so to do a full-throttle runup to ensure the single mag was okay, the trick was to get one wheel behind a lump of grass. That held the airplane briefly before the airplane launched you on your takeoff roll in this no-brakes machine. When taxiing, one watched the wind and approached the gas pump from the downwind side, cutting the mag at the appropriate spot; it is kind of like learning to “sail” a floatplane. Maybe that’s why I got my float rating with only one hour of instruction. It differed a bit from the later Cubs in that the throttle was a metal-rod affair and the stabilizer trim consisted of a cotton rope around a pulley (yes, sometimes it, too, slipped, just like J-3s). The panel was Vee’d in, and it had the minimum required instruments: a tachometer, a nonsensitive altimeter, oil pressure gauge, and an oil temperature gauge, but it didn’t have any cabin heat, no carb heat, and it didn’t have a compass. It did have a 9-gallon fuel tank. The rudder had no aero-
dynamic counter-balance, so it was quicker to move, and overcontrolling was common until one got used to it. It handled like a 65-hp Cub with two aboard when you were flying it solo, and like a brick when you were flying with another person aboard. It cruised around at about 60 mph. When I took off from Rochester I lost my bearings (remember, no compass) and went north instead of west. Since I had planned to go IFR (I Follow Roads) back to Mankato, and the highway wasn’t where it was supposed to be, after 10 minutes into the flight I concluded I must be lost. Accordingly I checked the horizon and headed for the nearest water tower, which wasn’t much lower than I was. With the town identified and located on my chart (that’s what we called the road maps), I turned 90 degrees onto the approximate course, which took me right over a turkey farm! At that time there were a lot of these in southern Minnesota, and we had all been warned to stay away from them, since the birds would run away from the overhead ship and pile up in a fence corner and suffocate. A couple 0f area pilots lost lawsuits over this! I hauled my bird up into a turn as steep as I dared, so the farmer couldn’t get a good look at the big numbers under my wing. It apparently was a successful maneuver, because I didn’t stall out and never got arrested. I even managed to find the correct highway (it was the only one going into the sun, i.e., west). It was a fun little plane. We usually flew it solo using less than 3 gallons per hour. We didn’t like the fact that it was built without carb heat. I think the carb bolted to the oil sump like a Lycoming and assume that the hot oil was supposed to prevent carb ice. At any rate, we modified a carb heat system from a 65 Continental, wrapping a pair of stacks as a muff, and thinking we now were better equipped, we were happier. Forced landings were not uncommon, and we were trained to pick appropriate fields; making actual landings on the occasional farm field was expected. Many years later my
1936 Fairchild 24 with Ranger power had the same omission, but its engine took carb air from inside the cowl, which was previously heated by the cylinders. Since the seller had confessed that there were forced landings in its history, one of my first (of many) alterations was to devise and install a carb air system, which did provide the legal required air temp rise. I even got it STC’d. We flew that little Cub all over
was able to make a deal to get my private certificate from a local instructor/A&P mechanic in his personal J-3 Cub.
Minnesota to fly-ins, flight breakfasts, etc. With two aboard, it was pretty “loggy” on climb, but there was a row of metal grain storage bins near the airport, so we would go back and forth over them, using the heat lift till we got a couple hundred feet of altitude to go flying around the area. Glider pilots can appreciate this. In cooler weather it would even carry three—myself, my wife, and our baby daughter. We would fly out to Marshall to visit family friends. The J-2 had four straight stacks, no muffler, and no cabin heat, and even with only 37 horses, with the unmuffled Continental, it got pretty noisy. To this day my daughter complains that is why she has hearing problems (so do I). Fortunately this ship had the optional side window kit. J-2s were built as an open parasol monoplane with only a windshield. The top of the rear fuselage met the wing trailing edge and had a vertical tapered front edge behind the back seat to streamline it. In later years it was common to modify J-2s into J-3s by cutting off the short brakeless axles, replacing them with J-3 units. Further required changes included
revising the rudder/fin configuration, the cabin windows, and birdcage, and bolting on a J-3 nose with the 65 Continental engine. The result was a slightly lighter airframe with a lower gross weight, but it made a better-performing legal J-3, similar to ’46 J-3s that were modified into PA-11 models with the -11 nose, with the substitution of a 90-hp engine and the addition of a wing tank. After awhile the slow 60-mph cruise speed got to us, so we decided to get something faster, like a J-3! We found a wind-twisted fuselage for $35 and a crashed ’46 fuselage with papers. We made one airplane out of the two and in about a year ended up with a ’46 metal spar J-3 with an electrical system, a 65 Continental, and a metal prop. It indicated a solid 85-plus mph, until I had the Maxwell prop shop check the prop, and Mr. Maxwell repitched it flatter as it was supposed to be; then it would barely make 80! We sold the J-2 to a fellow at Fairmont who subsequently made a hard (very hard) landing and broke the two lower longerons at the tail-wheelmount bolt. Since most planes were tied down instead of hangared and were taildraggers, the snow and rain that found their way inside the fuselage flowed downhill to the back end and rusted the tubes. Some new tubing welded in made it like-new again. I well remember having to dig snow out of the rear of the L-4s, which weren’t sealed off behind the back seat like J-3 Cubs are. That is, after we had dug the plane itself out of the snow drifts! Cubs were fun on skis. We’d land on the lakes by the ice fishermen. I even managed to get stuck in the snow at Le Sueur, Minnesota, when the wind blew me sideways and the skis cut in. My buddy had to get out and push, and I circled back to pick him up on the roll (slide?). Our continuing search for more speed next led us to a pristine hangar queen ’46 Super Cruiser with its big 100-hp Lycoming engine, but that was my third or fourth, so I better quit. Flying holds for us so many great adventures, and then so many wonderful memories!
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 17
Vintage Chapter Locator Visit the VAA chapter nearest you and get to know some great old-airplane enthusiasts! You don’t need to be a pilot to join in the fun—just have a love of the great airplanes of yesteryear.
, North r 3, Roxboro
Chapter 16, Overland Park, Kansas
Hayward, CA, VIN 29 Meeting: 2nd Thurs., 6:00 p.m. Hayward Airport (HWD) See website for hangar info. Gary Oberti, President Phone: 510-357-8600 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.vaa29.org
Lakeland, FL, VIN 1 Meeting: Contact President Bobby Capozzi, President Phone: 352-475-9736 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.FSAACA.com
Overland Park, KS, VIN 16 Meeting: 2nd Fri., 7:30 p.m. CAF Hangar, New Century Airport (K34) Kevin Pratt, President Phone: 913-541-1149 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.VAA16.com
CALIFORNIA Sacramento, CA, VIN 25 Meeting: 2nd Sat., 9:00 a.m. See chapter website for location. Robert Opdahl, President Phone: 530-273-7348 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.vaa25.eaachapter.org
CAROLINAS, VIRGINIA Walnut Cove, NC, VIN 3 Meeting: Contact President Susan Dusenbury, President Phone: 336-591-3931 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.VAA3.org 18 DECEMBER 2011
ILLINOIS Lansing, IL, VIN 26 Meeting: Contact President Peter Bayer, President Phone: 630-922-3387 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIANA Auburn, IN, VIN 37 Meeting: 4th Thurs., 7:00 p.m. DeKalb County Airport (kGWB) Hangar A—VAA 37 Clubhouse Drew Hoffman, President Phone: 260-515-3525 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.VAA37.org
LOUISIANA New Iberia, LA, VIN 30 Meeting: 1st Sun., 9:00 a.m. LeMaire Memorial Airport (2R1) Hangar 4 Roland Denison, President Phone: 337-365-3047 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
MINNESOTA Albert Lea, MN, VIN 13 Meeting: 4th Thurs., 7:00 p.m. Albert Lea Airport FBO (AEL) Steve Nesse, President Phone: 507-373-1674
NEW HAMPSHIRE North Hampton, NH, VIN 15 Meeting: 2nd Sat., 11:00 a.m. Hampton Airfield (7B3) Robert Drake, President Phone: 603-942-9242 E-mail: email@example.com
OHIO Delaware, OH, VIN 27 Meeting: 3rd Sat., 9:00 a.m. Delaware Municipal Airport (DLZ) Terminal Building Woody McIntire, President Phone: 740-362-7228 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.EAAdlz.org
Chapter 25, S
OHIO Zanesville, OH, VIN 22 Meeting: 2nd Fri.; 6:30 p.m. Perry County Airport (I86) John Morozowsky, President Phone: 740-453-6889
OKLAHOMA Tulsa, OK, VIN 10 Meeting: 4th Thurs., 7:00 PM Hardesty South Regional Library No meetings in July, Nov. & Dec. Joe Champagne, President Phone: 918-257-4688 Email: email@example.com
lifornia, at Alta Si
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Want to Start a VAA Chapter?
Spring, TX, VIN 2 Meeting: 4th Sun., 2:00 PM David Wayne Hooks Airport (KDWH) Fred Ramin, President Phone: 281-255-4430 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s easy to star t a VAA chapter. All you need to get star ted is five vintage enthusiasts. Then contact the EAA Chapter Office at 920-426-6867 or chapters@ eaa.org to obtain an EAA Chapter Star ter Kit. EAA has tools to help you get in touch with all your local Vintage members, and they’ll walk you through the process of star ting a new chapter.
WISCONSIN Brookfield, WI, VIN 11 Meeting: 1st Mon., 7:30 PM Capitol Drive Airport Office Donald Hyra, President Phone: 262-251-1778 Email: email@example.com
Chapter 29, Hayward, California and Young Eagles in January 2011.
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 19
Light Plane Heritage published in EAA Experimenter January 1993
BOB WHITTIER EAA 1235
oday’s typical aviation enthusiast has encountered the name Avro many times in the course of his reading. Literature on World War I aviation makes frequent mention of the Avro 504 general-purpose and training biplane, and literature on World War II has much to say about the Avro Lancaster, Lancastrian, and Lincoln four-engine bombers used by the RAF. After World War II there were the Avro York and Tudor airliners, and the Vulcan military jet. But mention an Avro model called the Avian today and more often than not you’ll get a “What’s that?” response. Only an occasional antique airplane enthusiast will show a glimmer of recognition, but it would be more realistic to say that his face will probably light up as much as yours does upon encountering a good friend!
In its time the Avro Avian two-seat, open-cockpit training and sport biplane was quite well-known and played an interesting role in British civil aviation activities. Because more of them were built, more restored antique examples exist today, and more plans for model airplanes of the type have been published, though the very similar-appearing de Havilland Gipsy Moth today is much better known. Nevertheless, the Avro Avian deserves to be remembered. The name “Avro” was derived from the name of an
Above: A Cirrus-engined Avro Avian taking off. Note ripples in the thin plywood covering on the fuselage side. The letter G on the rudder stands for Great Britain and is the outcome of security-conscious European bureaucrats insisting on plastering nationality identifications all over airplanes.
Editor’s Note: The Light Plane Heritage series in EAA’s Experimenter magazine often touched on aircraft and concepts related to vintage aircraft and their history. Since many of our members have not had the opportunity to read this series, we plan on publishing those LPH articles that would be of interest to VAA members. Enjoy!—HGF
20 DECEMBER 2011
English aviation pioneer, Alliott Verdon Roe. The name of the eventually large and famous firm, which he founded, was A.V. Roe & Co. Ltd., and Avro was the obvious contraction. As time went on and his aeronautical accomplishments mounted, Roe was knighted, so his name in literature on aviation history appears as Sir Alliott Verdon Roe. While still a young man, Roe was an officer in the British Merchant Marine and had ample opportunity to observe and marvel at the graceful soaring of the albatrosses, which followed the ship on which he served. The more he watched them, the more his interest in human flight grew. He obtained and The young A.V. Roe displays his prize-winning rubber-powered model of eagerly read the literature on air- 8-foot wingspan. craft design and construction, which was becoming increasingly available in the wings rather than stabilizers, and so we’re tempted to call it a “sextuplane.” It was powered by a J.A.P. mofirst decade of this century. Roe’s steadily growing knowledge of the principles torcycle engine delivering a pathetic 9 hp. The enof mechanical flight led him to enter a rubber-powered gine’s name is derived from the initials of its maker, model airplane in a contest held in March of 1907 by J.A. Prestwich. To fly with such feeble power, Roe went to extremes the prominent Daily Mail newspaper of London. A canard (tail-first) biplane of 8-foot wingspan, it managed to save weight, and even covered the wings with comto fly the then-creditable distance of a little more than mon brown paper. He was an intelligent and persistent 100 feet. That was good enough to win the first prize of man, and in 1913 demonstrated his well-designed and able model 504 biplane to British military officials. It 75 pounds sterling. Roe used this money to construct a full-size, man- was a fairly large but light and capable aircraft that was carrying airplane patterned after that model. Unable to docile and easy to fly. Orders were soon coming in to afford the high price of a real aero engine, he rented a the Roe establishment. The 504 was used for many purposes, including comFrench-built Antoinette engine and installed it in this creation. In July of 1908 he managed to make a flight munications, reconnaissance, light bombing, and even of sorts at the aerodrome, which by then existed inside as a fighter. More than 7,000 of them were built between the circuit of the famous Brooklands auto race track in 1913 and 1931, and a variety of engines were fitted. This vast production effort taught the Avro people Surrey to the south of London. A score of years later the Royal Aero Club appointed much about aircraft design and mass production. A.V. a committee to decide once and for all who officially Roe was different from many high-ranking aircraft inmade the first powered airplane flight in Britain. They dustry executives in that he retained a keen interest decided that the uncertain skips and hops that char- in small, economical airplanes suitable for training acterized the Roe machine’s performance could not be and sport flying. He had his people design and enter considered as proper sustained and controlled flight, various small planes in the lightplane trials held at the southern England town of Lympne (pronounced so he lost out on that great honor. Most of the early European aviation pioneers were “Limm”) from 1923 onward. Early Lympne competitions were for very light airmen of means, which Roe definitely was not. His underfinanced messing about with flying machines did planes powered by fuel-stingy little engines of from 750 not make him particularly welcome at the elite Brook- to 1100 cc displacement. Nobody was manufacturing lands’ drome, so he transferred his activities to some real aircraft engines of such small size, so various moopen space at a place called Lea Marshes. In July of torcycle engine conversions were used instead. A motor1909 he did manage to win fame as the first person in cycle able to reach 80 mph on a suitable track or open road actually spends most of its service life doing 30 to his country to fly an all-British aircraft. The machine he built was what we today might call 40 mph on average roads, so it is seldom highly stressed. a “contraption.” While generally called a triplane, its But to get even very light aircraft off the ground and triple-tail surfaces were so large as to look more like up to cruising altitude, the motorcycle engines used at
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 21
Alliott Verdon Roe, born April 26, 1877, died January 4, 1958.
An Avro 504 of World War I vintage in flight.
Lympne had to be run at full throttle most of the time. So it worked out that many an otherwise well-engineered lightplane entered in these contests turned out to be little more than an excellent forced-landing trainer. By 1926 officials came to realize that although low fuel consumption might be highly desirable in theory, in practice the small engines that were available were simply not able to serve dependably in the noses of lightplanes. After much discussion, contest The two-seat version of the Avro Baby, circa 1920. officials decided that for the 1926 meeting, the rules should state that any engine weigh- wish he had spent just a little more for a two-seater, ing less than 170 pounds complete could be used. They so he could introduce his friends to the great advenrealized that while they might use more fuel, larger ture of flying. You can attach a sidecar to a motorcycle, engines running at conservative rotational speeds but if anyone has ever attached one to an airplane, we would be a lot more reliable. By that time government- have certainly never heard about it! So Avro contrived a two-seater version of the Baby. subsidized flying clubs aimed at creating a base for future military air power were growing in number, and Two people sat one behind the other in an elongated open cockpit. But the extra weight and drag was more what they needed above all else was engine reliability. Shortly after World War I the Avro Company de- than a 35-hp engine could handle acceptably well. Work with the Baby and the low-powered Lympne signed and built a simple single-seat biplane intended for sport and touring use—“touring” being the British entries, however, gave the Avro design team a good term equivalent to our “cross-country flying.” Called background in lightplane design. When rules for the the Avro Baby, the prototype was powered by a 1910 1926 competition were announced, a new and good four-cylinder, water-cooled Green engine of 35 hp, small airplane engine had finally appeared on the marwhich had been overhauled for use in this ship be- ket. It was the five-cylinder, radial, air-cooled Armcause no better small engine of good reliability was strong-Siddeley Genet, which produced a useful 60 hp then available. Along with this engine, Avro obtained and fell within the 170-pound weight limit. The contest rules were too involved to describe here, production plans and anticipated building more of these engines if the demand should arise. But that but had the effect of forcing designers to use much mathematical calculation and ingenuity to come up never happened. Although the Baby flew well, there was a problem. with aircraft having a chance to win. To keep weight to Anyone able to afford a new single-seater would soon a very minimum, some Lympne designs had each and
22 DECEMBER 2011
The new Avian did not deliver at Lympne for a couple of maddeningly trivial reasons. The weightsaving welded aluminum gas tank sprang a leak that could not be repaired in the field at Lympne, and so required the plane to be flown with a reduced fuel supply. Then, the aluminum magneto drive shaft failed, and as it could not be replaced in time, this put the Avian out of competition. A stronger steel shaft would have weighed but a The Genet-engined Avian built for the 1926 Lympne lightplane competition. few ounces more. These are good examples of the kind of bugs that every part so thoroughly engineered to save all possible have to be worked out of every new airplane. But all of Avro’s effort did leave them with what was weight that the resulting planes would obviously be too expensive to manufacture. Some entries even appeared basically a good new airplane design, and they eventually with two sets of wings, a small set for the speed events got something worthwhile out of it. The fuselage was of and a large set for climbing and altitude events. A few simple flat-sided, all-wood construction with spruce longerons and cross-members tied together with a covering were even convertible from monoplanes to biplanes. Now obviously, while enabling certain planes to of three-layer plywood. This did away with the numerscore well in various Lympne events, these extra wings ous, fussy, and expensive truss wires, turnbuckles, and fitwould add unacceptably to the cost and complication tings typical of earlier wood fuselage framing. Because Avro hoped the Avian would go into proof everyday airplane ownership and use. That is a good example of the pitfalls that can lurk in competition duction, a construction and assembly method was rules supposedly drawn up to produce whatever results worked out to keep labor costs to a minimum while still not getting themselves involved with the great exsponsors might have in mind. The 1926 rules called for two-seaters able to carry pense of heavy mass-production machinery. The fusea minimum load of 340 pounds for occupants and lage was put together from right, left, top, and bottom fuel. So, a designer could elect to use a very small en- subassemblies. A fifth subassembly formed the cockpit gine having a modest fuel supply or a larger engine floor and control system mounting base. Fuselages of this basic type have been much used in requiring more fuel tankage but also able to carry a larger load, or anything in between. Avro’s chief engi- Europe for both amateur and factory-built airplanes. neer, Roy Chadwick, felt that the new 60-hp Genet was The work can be done with ordinary hand tools and clearly the wisest choice for reliability, realistic touring common woodworking machines. A disadvantage is baggage allowance, and reserve power for coping with poor occupant protection in serious crashes, for they tend to shatter and splinter rather than bend and abturbulent air. The airplane he conceived to go with this engine sorb energy like metal structures. The Avian’s fuselage was flat-sided, but the radialwas engineered to be light in weight, but this goal was to be achieved by wise overall design rather than ex- type Genet engine had a more or less round shape. pensive ounce-saving tricks in the many small parts Fuel and oil tanks were thus shaped to fit on top of involved. While not what one would call a sleek air- and onto each side of the front of the fuselage, and the plane, the design he worked out did have a light and conical form of the side tanks did a simple but effective airy look about it. This was in notable contrast to some job of fairing the engine’s roundness into the flat surBritish airplanes, which looked as heavy and graceful faces of the fuselage. This also put the tanks into good view for ease of inspection. as a threshing machine. The Avian followed 504 and Baby practice, in that it It was given the lilting and easily remembered name of Avro Avian. We can appreciate the engineering skill had no vertical tail fin but only a balanced rudder. This that went into its design by noting that while the empty was perhaps done for weight and cost savings. In the weight was 695 pounds, weight with a full load aboard years we have been reading books on airplane design, not was 1,600 pounds. Wingspan was 32 feet, and the bi- once have we found a useful discussion of the pros and plane configuration gave a total wing area of 295 square cons of rudder-only tail design. Many early planes used feet. This large area in turn gave the quite low wing- this design, too. From what we can put together from loading of 5.3 pounds per square foot to help the ship to the few brief mentions we have encountered, it appears that rudder-only tails offer light, quick, and powerful rescore well in the takeoff and obstruction-clearing tests. But luck plays a large part in every competition. sponse, which is good for aerobatic and fighting aircraft.
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 23
Note carefully the stub wing on this Avian III of 1928. Wheels moved aft as wings were folded to compensate for aft shift of center of gravity. Thin wing airfoil prompted use of thicker auto fuel tank mounted in center section. But these qualities also appear to make keeping a steady course in long cross-country flights an attention-demanding and therefore tiring proposition. Wing dihedral and vertical tail work together to provide whatever directional stability a particular plane might or might not have. Visualize a plane flying in turbulent air, and suppose that a gust comes toward the plane from the right. Dihedral on that side thus tries to raise the right wing, so, of course, the left one goes down and the plane then wants to turn to the left. But the same gust also presses on the right side of the vertical tail and pushes the tail to the left. That, of course, will tend to turn the nose to the right, thus countering the planeâ€™s turning to the left. A plane with rudder only must wait for the pilot to sense what is happening to the plane and then feed corrective pressure into the controls. A vertical fin of any useful size will, on the other hand, come into automatic and immediate action to do the same thing. As soon as Avro Avians begin to
make long-distance flights, tails were quickly changed to the fin-and-rudder configuration. With the passage of time, wind tunnel testing and mathematical analysis gave designers tools for calculating the interaction between dihedral and vertical fin while a new plane is still on the drawing board. When evaluating any particular airplane, we have to try to put ourselves into its designerâ€™s circumstances. Avro wanted large wing area for the Lympne Avian but at the same time very much wanted the plane to be as slight as reasonably possible. Obviously no plane docile enough for training use and powered with a 60-hp engine could go fast enough to make the drag of biplane wings a serious matter. But the very efficient bracing trusswork possible with the biplane configuration would permit them to design wings of large area but light weight. Spruce used by European airplane builders had to come to them from the very distant Pacific Northwest. Although the Avianâ€™s upper and lower wings would re-
This is a Whittelsey Avian manufactured in 1929 at Bridgeport, Connecticut. American models did not have the wing-folding feature, so straight landing gear shock struts passed through holes built into wings. Handley Page automatic slots are clearly seen on top wing. 24 DECEMBER 2011
Top left - wings were made to easily fold back for storage; dashed line indicates folded position. Lower left - note generous gap between lower and upper wings. Upper right - easily built subassemblies went together to form fuselage. Lower right - dotted line shows aft movement of landing wheels that took place automatically as the wings were folded. quire a total of eight spars, compared to the four required for a pair of monoplane wings, each one could be made from raw stock of modest and therefore easily obtained and economical dimensions. So again the biplane configuration made sense. Although homely looking to modern eyes, the squared-off wingtips of the original Avian also made production sense, since they avoided the need to make special tip rubs and four wingtip bows. And it was considered that on so slow a plane, their aerodynamic dirtiness would not be a serious drawback. The reason only a small amount of stagger was used between upper and lower wings had to do with the fact that one of the contest rules required each entrant to pass through a dummy garage door for storage. Wings of small monoplanes could quickly be made detachable, but thatâ€™s not so easy to do with biplane wings because of their struts and tie rods. So obviously the new Avian would have to have folding wings. Very little stagger could be used for the sake of keeping top and bottom wing root pivot pins in line with one another. But the small amount of stagger that was used did have the effect of keeping the tips of the lower wings from touching ground when folded back and also keeping them clear of the horizontal tail surfaces. To help compensate for the loss of lift caused by air being compressed slightly between upper and lower wings, plenty of gap, or separation, was used. As the Avian was not a particularly large plane, the somewhat high mounting of the upper wing also facilitated entry and exit from the front cockpit. Lindberghâ€™s memorable flight from New York to
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VINTAGE AIRPLANE 25
Top left - aircraft have used both stationary and automatic-opening wing slots. Note track and rollers in the automatic installation here. Lower left, careful design and testing goes into tailoring sot action to suit a particular plane’s needs. Above right - Airflow at high angle of attack without and with slots. Paris in 1927 boosted aviation enthusiasm in Europe as much as it did in America. By early 1928 Avro had upgraded the Avian to make it less of a contest entry and more of a general-purpose ship. The Genet engine was replaced with the 80-hp, four-inline Cirrus engine. Wingspan was reduced from 32 to 28 feet, which brought wing area down to 244 square feet to increase wing loading and reduce skittishness on windy days. Some Avians were fitted with Handley Page automatic slots on the leading edges of their upper wings. At high angles of attack they would pop open, maintain smooth airflow over a substantial proportion of the top sides of the upper wings, and thus get away from the often vicious and crash-causing stall characteristics of many planes of the 1920s. A lot of engineering and test flying went into designing slots of this type to get them to open at the right time. During more severe maneuvers, the slot on one wing would pop open while the one on the opposite wing remained closed. The resulting unbalance could give a pilot a bad time. So most of these installations were fitted with slot-locking devices for use when deliberate aerobatic flight was planned. Some Handley Page slot installations made use of track-and-roller arrangements, while others used parallelogram-linkage arrangements. The fixed slots seen on a few American light aircraft of the 1940s were simpler and cheaper to manufacture and were used to maintain even airflow over aileron top surfaces or to cure vicious tip-stall tendencies. The new Avian strongly resembled the de Havilland Gipsy Moth, but it was not a copy. Remember, it originated as a Lympne contest entry. There were other British light biplanes that closely resembled the Moth and Avian. And it’s easy to find look-alikes in books on American airplanes. The Moth-Avian look-alike situation is probably the outcome of various designers thinking about how best to design a light training biplane to use the Cirrus engine. Where the improved Avian had nicely rounded wing-
26 DECEMBER 2011
tips, the Moth had World War I style raked tips. These had been shown to be aerodynamically poor, but had the practical advantage of putting as much aileron area as far out on the wings as possible. So strong roll control could be had even though there were only two ailerons. Mounting them on the lower wings simplified connecting them to the cockpit controls in folding-wing planes. The Moth had the familiar de Havilland kidneyshaped tail surface outlines. The Avian had a triangular-shaped vertical tail with rounded rudder top, and rectangular horizontal surfaces. Because the leading and trailing edges were parallel to one another, all ribs were alike—probably another production economy. An Avro employee devised an improved wing-folding system. An accompanying photo shows an Avian with its right wings folded. The stub wings, which sprouted from the bottom of the fuselage, were of triangular shape. Rear landing gear struts were attached to rear spars outboard from the root fittings. The resulting geometry caused the wheels to move aft as the wings were folded, so the plane’s tail end would not then be so objectionably heavy to lift for handling when on the ground. At the same time, the fuselage nose was lowered enough to afford much better access to the engine’s exposed overhead valve mechanism. Although less numerous than the de Havilland Moths, Avians were well-known and often seen in England. Many were shipped abroad and were thus common in such places as Canada and Australia. In 1929 Avians were built under license in America by the Whittelsey Manufacturing Company at Bridgeport, Connecticut, but this company soon folded under the growing impact of the Depression, which followed the stock market crash in October of that year. Studying old airplanes is both fun and educational. We gain a new respect for the intelligence and cleverness of old-time designers. And now, get your leather jacket, helmet, and goggles out of the closet, because next month we’re going flying in an Avro Avian!
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BY ROBERT G. LOCK
Tail Wheel Installations
n the beginning of civil aviation in the United States, most aircraft were equipped with a tailskid, with no brakes on the main landing gear. That was an adequate arrangement for the airports of the era, because there were no hard surfaces on which to take off and land. In 1927, mechanical brakes, which worked individually from the cockpit, were beginning to appear when the
28 DECEMBER 2011
Guggenheim Safe Aircraft Competition was announced that same year. A requirement of the competition was called “stick” and “unstick.” The “stick” portion required that an aircraft approach to land over a 50-foot obstacle and stop in the shortest distance possible. This required brakes to be installed, and most were mechanically operated by a cable from the cockpit. The tailskid was still in wide use at the
time, and there was no need to change to a tail wheel. A side-view sketch from the Aircraft Yearbook of the Command-Aire 5C3 showing a typical tailskid is shown in Illustration 1. This type of aircraft was entered in the Safe Aircraft Competition and scored the highest of any stock-configured ship. It was flown by J. Carroll Cone and featured mechanical brakes installed at the factory in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In this aircraft the tailskid was simply a steel leaf spring, hardened by heat-treating and attached to a cross member of the aft fuselage. On the end of the skid a “shoe” was attached that had a rib welded fore and aft through the middle to aid in keeping the aircraft in the desired direction on the runway. This arrangement was widely used until hard-surface run-
ways began to appear, thus making the tailskid useless. Some types of wheel arrangements had to be adapted in place of the “shoe” arrangement. Enter the tail wheel, which comes in many sizes and shapes. Illustrations 2 and 3 are extracted from a 1946 Air Associates aviation supply catalog. Number 19 shows an array of tail wheel installations for light
aircraft of the day, from Aeronca to Taylorcraft. The most popular was the steerable and full-swivel tail wheels, which required a steering arm that was attached to the rudderpost. Illustration 3 shows three typical steering arms for light aircraft. I’m sure you’ll wish for the 1946 prices for these parts. Some arms were made of aluminum, and some were made of cast steel.
ILLUSTRATION 2 (above) ILLUSTRATION 3 (left)
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 29
With the evolution of tail wheels there became a need for brakes. The first systems were of the mechanical drum type, similar to the automotive brakes of the era. Hydraulic systems were later used to actuate the shoes into contact with the wheel drums. Illustration 4 shows typical wheels and brakes of the era. Perhaps one of the most popular steerable tail wheels is the Scott 3200 pneumatic steerable and fullswivel assembly. These units were installed by the Cessna factory on 180 and 185 models and are large enough to carry the heavier tail loads on higher gross-weight ships. In the early days of the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), tail wheel installations could be easily field-approved, and many kits were sold that would fit particular aircraft. The pneumatic Scott 3200 and 3400 tail wheels are very rugged and reliable. Cessna used the model 3200 on its L-19 Bird Dog, which operated in and out of some very rough airstrips. When adapting a tail wheel to an aircraft, care must be taken to ensure that the installation is done in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. This is particu-
30 DECEMBER 2011
larly true with this tail wheel. In Illustration 5, the steering arm (8) mounts to the fork (11), and when the assembly is attached to the spring, the steering arm must be parallel to the ground when the aircraft is loaded. If it is not parallel, poor steering and an unwanted shimmy will result. Illustration 4 is a diagram showing proper mounting of the tail wheel to the airplane’s spring. Beside the Scott and Maule pneumatic tail wheels, other types were adapted for use on certain aircraft that either had a tailskid or a very early wheel i n s t a l l a t i o n . Ta i l wheels from such production aircraft as the Cessna UC-78, Boeing Stearman PT13/-17, Ryan PT-22, Fairchild PT-19, and other types with sim-
ilar gross weights were adapted. That’s been done for a number of years with FAA field approval. For any steerable tail wheel, it must follow the rudder movement in a positive motion. To check for this, raise the aft fuselage and place it on a stand so the tail wheel clears the floor. Streamline the rudder by moving the rudder pedals to the neutral position in the cockpit, and then check for rudder neutral position in line with the vertical fin. The tail wheel should be tracking straight; if not, adjust it. Move the rudder left and right and observe if the tail wheel follows. Since the tail wheel is attached to the rudder via a pair of chains and springs, they can be adjusted to increase tension on the steering horns on the tail wheel. Tension just needs to be snug; don’t over- or undertension. When the rudder is at full left or right travel, apply some side pressure against the tail wheel in the opposite direction; there should be resistance to move-
ILLUSTRATION 6 critical to good performance. The Scott installation on my Command-Aire is shown in detail in Illustration 7. It is extremely important that, with the aircraft at gross weight, the tail wheel assembly is mounted so the steering arm is parallel to the ground. Modification of the tail wheel assembly requires a FAA Form 337 asa field approval of a major alteration. Owners and restorers need to pay close attention to the tail wheel to make sure it is installed and operates correctly. If it doesnâ€™t work properly, the results can be catastrophic.
ILLUSTRATION 7 ment because of spring pressure. Some aircraft use cables or an adjustable push-pull rod for steering. The check is the same to make sure the tail wheel follows the rudderâ€™s movement. Tail wheels are made from solid rubber or are pneumatic. Because there is a certain amount of â€œgiveâ€? to it, the pneumatic assembly is more forgiving on rough surfaces. However, if air pressure is allowed to get too low, the tire can spin on the wheel, shearing off the inner tube valve stem. Maintaining proper pressure is a must when it comes to the pneumatic tail wheel. Illustration 6 shows the early restoration stage of my Command-Aire 5C3. The tail wheel installation was made using a Scott 3200 assembly as found on the Cessna L-19 Bird Dog. Steering should always be accomplished by using a rudder arm attached to the lower portion of the rudder. Never attach steering cables to the rudder horns. Most tail wheels incorporate springs, so the sensitivity of steering can be adjusted. The more pull on the springs, the more sensitive the steering as the pilot moves the rudder pedals. Steering should be adjusted to be positive but not overpowering. With the Scott system, this adjustment is easy. The Scott 3200 tail wheel should be installed in accordance with data supplied by the factory. The angle at which the assembly is mounted to the leaf spring is
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VINTAGE AIRPLANE 31
Vintage Instructor THE
BY Steve Krog, CFI
Short-Field Operations, Part 2
n part 1 on our series concerning short-field landings, we discussed two methods for making safe short-field landings. Now let’s add one more factor to the equation and look at making a short-field landing—over a 50foot obstacle! Unless you fly from a private strip with obstacles at one or both ends, you may not have even attempted a short-field landing over a 50-foot obstacle since your sport, private, or commercial checkride eons ago. Can you recall the last time you actually tried one? The short-field obstacle landing is not difficult, but it does take some practice to perform this landing safely and skillfully. Practicing these landings and increasing your proficiency may be the difference between a safe uneventful landing and a bent and broken airplane when attempting a landing at someone’s private strip someday. How many times have you read an NTSB accident report stating that while flying in VMC, the pilot attempted to land on a friend’s private airstrip? After realizing the landing was too long, the pilot attempted to “plant” the airplane and apply heavy brake action, only to find himself or herself upside down! I’ve read a number of these accident reports over the years, and with regard as to how and why it happens, it doesn’t seem to make any difference in the amount of flight time the pilot has accumulated.
32 DECEMBER 2011
When either teaching this landing or asking for it to be demonstrated during a flight review, I’ve identified three common weaknesses: • Inability to judge height. • Inability to establish and/or maintain airspeed. • Lack of familiarity with the airplane (i.e., comfort level).
How many times have you read an NTSB accident report stating that while flying in VMC, the pilot attempted to land on a friend’s private airstrip?
Inability to Judge Height All pilots—young or old, experienced or inexperienced—look to the sky as soon as stepping outdoors. We learned early in our training how to identify types of clouds and weather associated with each. We also learned, with a little practice, to generally judge cloud heights. How many times have you walked from your car or truck in your workplace parking lot, looked up, and mumbled, “This would be a good day to fly!” Why is it then that when looking up we can judge cloud bases within a few feet, but when asked to demonstrate a 50-foot obstacle landing, we have no clue as to what 50 feet looks like when looking downward toward the approach end of the runway? Over the years of my acquired experience providing primar y flight instruction, I’ve developed a method for teaching 50-foot obstacle short-field landings. After a brief preflight discussion describing the procedures for making this type of landing, we’ll go out and put these procedures into practice. I’ll first have the student demonstrate what he or she believes to be the correct way for making this landing. Without fail, we will cross the runway threshold (where our simulated 50-foot obstacle is located) and be anywhere from 250 to 500 feet above the runway. As we initiate a go-around, I’ll ask the student to call out our altitude. Let’s say, for the sake of example, the
student calls out 1,450 feet. While climbing out and flying the pattern, I’ll ask what the field elevation is at our airport, and the response is always 1,070 feet. Now add 50 feet and what do you get? Unless the student is quite young and is still attending school where math is no longer taught, the answer will be 1,120 feet. That is the altitude we need to clear then. Now add an additional 50 feet to that amount for instrument lag, 1,170 feet, and that is the altitude to strive toward on the next approach. Additionally, for the next three or four landings, I will verbally call out our altitude above the obstacle as we descend on base and final legs. This method seems to help the student better grasp how high he or she is at any given point. You might try this method yourself if you haven’t practiced an obstacle landing in a while.
Inability to Establish and/or Maintain Airspeed Up to this point most student pilots, as well as established pilots, have developed a skill level for establishing correct airspeeds for the approach and landing in their particular airplane. For the sake of discussion, let’s say the airplane we’re flying uses the following speeds: 80 mph after reducing power on downwind, 70 mph on base leg, 65 mph after turning final, and 60 mph on short final. If a student, or seasoned pilot, understands and practices “attitude flying,” these speeds will be common on every approach to land without ever having to look at the airspeed indicator. However, throw in the 50-foot obstacle, and airspeed control wildly fluctuates. If it appears to the pilot that we’re too high, oftentimes the nose is pitched downward and our airspeed is reading 90 mph and increasing. The obstacle is cleared, but now it will take 2,500 feet of runway to get on the ground and stopped—1,500 feet more than we allowed for this maneuver. Or, if it appears that we’re too low, the nose
is pitched upward and some power is added. More often than not, the power added is enough to easily clear the obstacle, but we’re hovering dangerously close to either a stall or, at the very least, a rapid descent to the runway. In this scenario the power is then chopped, the obstacle is cleared, the landing is very short, but the airplane may not be usable again without first repairing the landing gear. The more correct method is to stabilize the approach speed and rate of descent. Then after turning final, pick an aim point 300-500 feet beyond the approach end of the runway. Continue the stabilized approach and add or reduce power as needed to compensate for the effect of the wind. Once you can see that the 50-foot obstacle can be cleared, slowly reduce power, which will slightly increase the rate of descent. Level off and begin your flare. While doing so, simultaneously reduce your power to idle. Upon touching down, continue to hold the yoke or control stick in the full aft position and gently apply even brake action. A few more practice landings, and you’ll soon have the short-field obstacle landing safely and skillfully mastered.
Lack of Familiarity With Your Airplane (i.e., Comfort Level) When first practicing obstacle landings, one of the fears that students express is getting the airspeed too slow and approaching a near stall. It’s a common fear, but it can easily be overcome by getting more familiar with the airplane being flown. In part 1 of Short-Field Operations, I suggested several exercises that a pilot might do to develop a confident, safe feel for the airplane being flown. First, at a safe altitude, align your aircraft with a road (our simulated runway). Reduce the power to idle while maintaining the desired constant airspeed that you should normally use on final approach to land. Burn the nose attitude image firmly in your brain so
that you never need to look at your airspeed. Try this maneuver several times. The trim system can be a pilot’s best friend, sometimes especially when landing. Use it to help stabilize the desired attitude. Next, do the same exercise over the road, but this time experiment by first adding and then reducing power. How much can you slow your rate of descent down when adding 200 rpm while still maintaining a constant airspeed plus 5 mph? This maneuver is especially good for developing the skills needed to make consistently safe short-field obstacle landings. Judging altitude, controlling airspeed, and knowing your airplane are essential to being able to perform short-field obstacle landings safely. The next time you decide to go flying for fun and pleasure, challenge yourself and try the exercises I’ve mentioned. With a little practice, you’ll be able to turn onto final, maintain a constant airspeed, and be in full control of your rate of descent. If needed, a forward slip can be established for a couple of seconds dissipating the remaining altitude, then aligning the airplane with the centerline, establishing the flare, and smoothly touching down while reducing whatever power remains. Most of the classic airplanes we fly today need little more than 500-800 feet to land. Allowing for obstacle clearance, a distance of 1,000-1,200 feet is about average for an obstacle landing with little or no help from the wind.
Take the Challenge A pilot striving to be a better, more skilled pilot becomes a safer pilot. And isn’t that a goal for all of us who enjoy general-aviation pleasure flying? Next time you decide to make a pleasure flight after work or on Saturday morning, challenge yourself and try a couple of simulated obstacle landings. They are both skill-enhancing as well as self-satisfying!
VINTAGE AIRPLANE 33
by H.G. FRAUTSCHY
MYSTERY PLANE This month’s Mystery Plane comes to us courtesy of Wes Smith. It is of North American origin. Send your answer to EAA, Vintage Airplane, P.O. Box 3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903-3086. Your answer needs to be in no later than January 10 for inclusion in the March 2012 issue of Vintage Airplane. You can also send your response via e-mail. Send your answer to mysteryplane@eaa. org. Be sure to include your name plus your city and state in the body of your note and put “(Month) Mystery Plane” in the subject line.
SEPTEMBER’S MYSTERY ANSWER ur September Mystery Plane came to us from W. Duffy Thompson of Lakeland, Florida. It was of foreign manufacture, but the photo was taken on the East Coast of the United States. Here’s our first answer, from Wes Smith of Springfield, Illinois: What an interesting photo of one of my favorites—the Aeroplanes Hanriot et Cie HD.1 (“HD” standing for “Hanriot Dupont.” The manufacturer being Rene Hanriot, a preWorld War I Darracq racecar driver, pilot and aircraft builder, and the designer, Pierre Dupont). I strongly suspect that the Vintage Airplane HD.1 is the imported aircraft that Charles Nungesser used on his 1924-25 American tour (see below). I first heard of the HD.1 way back in late 1968, when I bought a copy of Kenneth Munson’s book Fighters 1914-18. Three years later I got a copy of Willy Coppens’ autobiography Flying in Flanders, and in 1972, Jack Bruce’s Warplanes of the First World War: Fighters, Volume 5 was published. That had to do until
34 DECEMBER 2011
Dr. Davilla and Arthur Soltan wrote French Aircraft of the First World War. Jack Bruce did Windsock Datafile No. 12: Hanriot HD.1 in 1988, and Gregory Alegi did another on the HD.1/2 (Datafile No. 92) in 2002. I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention Jon Guttman’s Balloon-Busting Aces of World War 1, published just a few years ago. Aside from Belgium, the United States, and Italy (where 831
HD.1s were built under license by Societa Nieuport-Macchi, during the war, and 70 were delivered in 1919, Hanriot built only 100 HD.1s), it was also used by Paraguay (3), and Switzerland (16), through the ’20s. In addition to the 26 HD.2s purchased by the U.S. Navy, the HD.2 floatplane (hydravion) variant was also used by the French aviation maritime (30) and was flown off turret-launching platforms from the Courbet class battleship Paris. This was accomplished by LV Guierre off Toulon on 26 October 1918. The same thing was done by the U.S. Navy, which flew them off turret platforms fitted to the battleship USS Texas (BB-35) at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the spring of 1919 (also the cruiser USS Mississippi). The first American turret-launched flight took place in a Sopwith F.1 Camel flown by the legendary U.S. Navy World War I ace David S. Ingalls; flying off the No. 2 turret platform of the USS Texas on 10 March 1919. Of course, the British Royal Naval Air Service was the first to use this method of launching aircraft at sea. During World War I, the U.S. Navy HD.2s were flown from Dunkerque Naval Air Station as escort fighters for DonnetDenhaut flying boats. Postwar, the HD.2s were used as armed fighter trainers. The floats were removed, and experiments were conducted with skids (French), hydrovanes, and floatation bags. According to French Aircraft of the First World War (p 275), after the undercarriages were fitted to l’aviation maritime HD.2s, heavier tail skids were also retrofitted, and the rudders were modified à la the HD.1. On HD.2s, a 130 hp Clerget 9b replaced the 110-120 hp Le Rhone 9Jb of the HD.1 (Italian machines list the hp at 10 hp less than the French). Postwar, the French Hanriots replaced the Clerget with a 130 hp Salmson radial. French HD.2s fitted with undercarriages may have been designated as the HD.2C. Italian-built HD.1s had a slightly shorter span set of wings and a slightly greater height. The lower power of Le Rhones on Italian HD.1s contributed to a lower performance. When fitted with the original larger rudder of the HD.2 floatplane, the length of the landplane went from 5.85 meters to 5.94 meters. The span remained the same at 8.7 meters, but the height of the HD.2 landplane was slightly increased to 2.59 meters (2.94 meters for the HD.1 and 2.5 meters for the Nieuport-Macchi-built airframes). The wing area of the HD.2 was slightly increased to 18.9 square meters over 18.2 square meters for the HD.1 (17.5 square meters for Italian HD.1s). The speed of the HD.2 landplane was 180 km/hour, roughly comparable to the 186 km/hour maximum of French HD.1s, and 183 km/hour for Italian airframes. The empty weight of the HD.2 was 410 kilograms (400 kilograms French, 410 kilograms Italian). The loaded weight was significantly higher at 710 kilograms, an increase of 105 kilograms more than French HD.1s, and 110 kilograms heavier than Italian HD.1s. Float-equipped HD.2s were naturally longer and higher (7.0 meters and 3.10 meters, respectively) and were heavier (425 kilograms empty, 723 kilograms loaded). Curiously, the wing area was less at 18.2 square meters. The speed was approximately the same at 182 km/hour. The ceiling was about 1,000 meters less than the HD.1, being 4,800 meters (the HD.2 landplane was only 5,000 meters), but the climb to 2,000 meters was about the same at 6 minutes 30 seconds (6 minutes 3 seconds for French HD.1s and 6 minutes 40 seconds for Italian). Range of the HD.2 avion and
hydravion was 300 kilometers, while the HD.1 had an endurance of 2.5 hours (cruise speeds unknown). Page 98 of Lucien Morareau’s Les Aeronefs de l’Aviation Maritime 1910-1942 has a photo of an HD.2 landplane (terrestre) of l’ecole de chasse de Frejuis, taken at St. Raphel in 1926, which has a modified vertical fin and rudder (or an HD.1 replacement). Page 22 of Bruce’s Windsock has a photo of Francis Lombardi’s Italian HD.1, fitted with a Fiat A.50 radial (I-PASO). It was flown as late as 1944. The caption goes on to state that the design evolved into the CANSA (Costruzioni Aeronautiche Novaresi S.A.) FL.5 (later, C.5) trainer. There is an HD.1 in the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon. It was flown to England from Belgium by Richard Shuttleworth in 1937 and was fully restored by Marvin Hand in the United States. Several other HD.1s survive. Two examples exist in the United States, one at the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola, Florida. Other HD.1s survive in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and Ecuador. Nungesser’s HD.1 was brought to the United States in 1924 and was registered as N5934. He flew it in the 1925 film The Sky Raider. In 1927 it was flown in Wings by James Granger (Nungesser had since disappeared during his trans-Atlantic flight attempt). It was used again in Hell’s Angels in 1930. In 1951 it was rediscovered by Ed Maloney at Clover Field, Santa Monica, California, where it had been stored. Currently, it resides at the Planes of Fame Museum and is painted with Nuncontinued on page 37
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VINTAGE AIRPLANE 35
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continued from page 35
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gesser’s distinctive “skull, candles and coffin” personal insignia, which it wore during his display tour—and was used during his days as a pilot in World War I. The serial number of this aircraft is not known, but it is interesting that the personal insignia has yet to be applied to the aircraft as depicted in the Vintage Airplane photo. United States Navy and Marine Corps Fighters 1918-1962 (Paul R. Matt and Bruce Robertson. Harleyford Pub.) and Peter M. Bowers’ United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911 (Putnam) have additional photos of U.S. Navy Hanriot Duponts. Gregory Alegi’s Windsock Datafile has a highly interesting photo of an HD.1 (I-EBBO) taking off from the uncompleted CNA hangar at Rome’s Littorio airport in 1928. It is shown just outside the hangar, already flying, taking off from a ramp that runs back into the hangar! According to Alegi, the pilot, Giangiacomo Chiesi, often liked to carry a gun in his Hanriot— in order to shoot ducks while flying. As astonishing as this seems, this practice was not unique. Hubert Latham et. al. did the same thing long before World War I. An excerpt from the letter sent by Tom Lymburn, of Princeton, Minnesota, adds: Although comparing favorably with the Sopwith Pup for maneuverability, the HD.1 was not ordered in quantity by the French Aviation Militaire. It was undergunned with only one Vickers, so it did not have the hitting power of the Spad XIII. Powered by Le Rhone or Clerget rotary engines, the HD.1 had a top speed of 115 mph and a ceiling of more than 20,000 feet. If it had been capable of carrying two Vickers guns without the weight penalty, it probably would have been built in greater numbers. And a wonderful surprise from member Eric Pinion of Hialeah Gardens, Florida: I guess I am a bit late to reply, but I have a good excuse: I was busy building an airplane that looks just like this one! The picture is of a Hanriot HD.1, a WWI single-seat fighter that would have been built in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, by Hanriot or by Nieuport-Macchi in Italy. The D in the HD designation stands for
Dupont, the last name of the designing engineer that contributed to the rebirth of the company from 1916. Bibliography refers to 1,200 of them built with many finding their way after the war into civilian use in Europe, North America, and South America; only six genuine survive today. A number of HD.2 versions were built for the French and U.S. Navy primarily as hydroplanes, but they were often retrofitted to wheels; their engine, a Clerget 130 hp rotary instead of a Le Rhone 9J of 110 hp, a different machine gun arrangement, and different cowling face were the main external difference between the HD.1 and HD.2; unfortunately, the Mystery Plane picture does not show these details. For instance the Hanriot preserved at Planes of Fame in Chino, California, is a HD.2 model. Other correct answers were received from Wayne Muxlow, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Jim Gevay, Circle Pines, Minnesota; Roger Baker, Carlsbad, California; and Renald Fortier, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, who reminded us that another photo and a brief history of the HD-2 for use by the Navy is shown on the website www.NavSource. org/archives/01/57k3.htm.
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VINTAGE AIRPLANE 37
A Little Smooth Air by S. Michelle Souder
recious and few are the moments we two can share . . . .” Those words from a popular song on the charts in 1972 pretty much sum up my flying this time of year. The days are short now. No stealing a quick flight before dark on the way home anymore. Night flight is cold and carries the threat of deer on the runway. That’s a chance meeting I prefer to avoid. For the next few months I am left with weekends for flying, and pray that the weather is good. Our part of the east has had a frustrating amount of marginal weather for little airplanes this year…except on weekdays when I’m at work. Of course. I suppose I can be called a wimp on occasion. The much-loved airplane that has my name on the registration
38 DECEMBER 2011
weighs around 900 pounds. Its short, fat wings seem to locate all the unstable air easily. At this point in my life I fly for fun. I can opt out of gusty or marginal VFR days if I choose. Besides, the airplane is 62 years old. It deserves to be flown with respect, not needlessly thrashed. On the silver-lining side, however, early winter does provide more chances to ride some still air. When the windsock is motionless, and the clouds are not moving, it’s just got to be good. Like young animals that become playful in cool temperatures, the airplane responds readily when it breathes in the denser air. You can almost hear it say, “Let’s go!” The sluggish summer performance is abated for a few months. In the rare gift of no-wind con-
ditions, plane and pilot blend together as if one entity in flight. Each control input is true. The aircraft response is honest. No compensation is needed to counter the unseen weather forces. At last— just pure, unadulterated flight— and for a few moments the feeling of total satisfaction. Winter will bring its unpleasantness soon enough. Cold, wet misery will show its snowy face and prevent time aloft—again. For now I will dress warmly. I will revel in the fiery pinks and oranges on my wing struts as they shine in the sunset. I will marvel at the long shadows as I watch the farmland pass beneath me. I will take in the peacefulness and let it soothe my soul. I will oh-so enjoy the smooth air.
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VINTAGE AIRPLANE 39
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