You might think from the lack of recent updates that things are slow here, or that we’ve been slacking. You’d be wrong to think that because it’s been quite the opposite.
Since finishing the Sky Siren TravelAir, we’ve been doing a lot of wing work and fabric covering. A set each of Waco YMF, INF and UBF wings getting covered and painted. Got some Pawnee wings in process right now with a pair Stinson Gullwings waiting for room in the shop.
As far as bigger projects, we’ve got a Wright J-5 powered TravelAir 4000 project underway. Yes the one pictured above. The SkySiren’s sister ship is also in the works, not to mention a Staggerwing project that’s on it’s way. Did I mention the OX-5 powered TravelAir 2000 project? Yes that too.
It’s hopping around the shop lately. Look for picture updates soon…….
The winds were calm, the sky was clear and temperature was nice. The paperwork was in order and we’d gone over the airplane one last time. I was out of excuses, so last Friday I took the Sky Siren TravelAir up for it’s return to air for the first time since the mid 1950’s. Now 60 plus years is a long time between flights, but based on how it looks and how it flies, we think it was worth the wait.
If you decide to take a plane like the Hatz from Flabob to Blakesburg, it’s best to plan ahead. Planning for this trip started during the AAA fly-in last year. Some of us Hatz Nutz got together and came up with a plan to make a showing in force in 2013, the 45th anniversary of the design. After getting home, I had a list of items I wanted to clean up and take care of, so there was no time to waste. Worked through the winter on things like fairings, cockpit covers, wheel pants, etc. Also cleaned up and repainted the wings with Nando’s help. Anyway, with no time to spare, it was time to get started on the trip which started with the National Biplane Fly-in in Junction City, KS. Great time with the nicest group of biplane enthusiasts you’re every likely to find.
Now the plane is safely stashed in Iowa at Casa de Lust, waiting for the next leg of the adventure which is the Hatz/Pietenpol fly-in at Brodhead, followed by Oshkosh and finally Blakesburg.
See you at the flying field…….
Here’s the abreviated update. Took the airplane to Ohio to join up with some barnstorming buddies. Flew all around Indiana meeting wonderful folks and landing in farmer’s fields. After that it was on to Brodhead for the annual Hatz club get together, then on to Oshkosh. Great week there, perfect weather, lot’s of Hatz enthusiasts. The plane was awarded a Bronze Lindy which was a great surprise considering what I’d been doing with it the previous couple of weeks. It was bug-covered and dirty! Strands of alphalfa were hanging off the tailwheel. Muddy footprints in the cockpits. In any case, the judges liked it and we were honored.
Blakesburg was it’s usual magical self. Can’t describe it, you’ve just got to experience it for yourself. The plane won the Grand Champion Homebuilt award on Sunday evening. Again a great surprise and honor. Sure glad I didn’t have to haul those trophies home in the airplane.
After Blakesburg, the long trip home. All told, about 4100 miles, 50+ hours of flying time, a bunch of fuel that I refuse to add up, great memories and future plans.
Get out there and fly!!!!
Yesterday we pushed the Sky Siren outside for it’s first engine run. Fired right up and ran like a sewing machine. Just a little more work finishing up some fairings, final rigging, weight and balance, etc…. Should be ready to fly within a month or so.
When you’re getting near the end of a project, there’s lots of visible progress. In fact it seems like every day there’s something new and cool to report. Not so much during the early stages of projects though. We’ve been hard at work on the three TravelAir projects currently in the shop. Mostly just a lot of grunt work though, nothing really sexy or high profile. We are getting really close to final assembly on the Sky Siren project. Once it comes together for good, there’ll be plenty to report.
My buddy Bruce has decided to put his 1929 TravelAir 4D up for sale. Now this is not your ordinary run of the mill TravelAir, far from it. First of all the 4D’s have the rare “outrigger” style landing gear. This is a gear that was designed to have easier ground handling and also afford a higher gross weight. Only about 65 TravelAir biplanes of configuration were ever built.
Bruce worked on the restoration for several years on his own before bringing it to Hemet in 2004 where we worked together to finish it 2005. Since then, it’s been on every Barnstormers Tour, been to the east coast several times, won most of the major awards including Grand Champion at Blakesburg and Casa Grande just to name a couple. Even though it’s been a consistent award winner, it’s no hangar queen. Bruce has put over 800 hours on it since completion and you don’t put that kind of time on an airplane if it doesn’t fly right. This thing is made for traveling.
At the end of last year’s flying season, the Wright R760-8 was ready for some attention, so it was overhauled and didn’t miss a beat during this year’s season. He’s asking $180,000 and you couldn’t begin to reproduce it for that price. It’ll probably wind up in Europe, that’s where a lot of the antiques seem to be going these days, but whoever does buy it, they’re in for some nice flying.
There are a bunch of pictures taken during the restoration here.
Contact me if you’re interested or know someone who might be.
The first annual Flabob Flying Circus is now just a fond memory, but what a great one. The weather was perfect, the planes were spectacular, the pilots were all first rate pro’s and everyone seemed to have a great time.
We put 52 different planes in the air during the “Cavalcade of Flight”. Those planes plus the other 70 plus on display made this first time event a wonderful success.
Once we’ve fully recovered, we’ll be posting as many pictures as possible at the event website www.flabobflyingcircus.com Thanks again to everyone who participated. Let’s do it again next year!
Where to begin? Well first of all the Cabin Waco made it to Oshkosh with no problems. We spent a nice week at Airventure parked in Phillips 66 Plaza next to the the Flabob DC-3 and Aeronca Chief. At the end of the week the Waco was awarded runner-up in the custom antique category.
After Oshkosh, it was back to California to get the Monocoupe ready for the American Barnstormers Tour. Sheila and I had a nice leisurely flight to Fargo ND where we met up with the rest of the barnstormers, then it was off to Brainerd MN, Eau Claire WI, Manitowoc WI, DeKalb Il, a nice couple of days in Iowa City, IA and finally the big Antique Airplane Association Fly-In at Blakesburg, IA. 3830 miles in the Monocoupe, 28 different airport stops and 15 states. I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer vacation!
We took the Cabin Waco out for it’s first photo shoot yesterday. Mike Shreeve came out with his camera and “Pops” Newman was kind enough to offer the use of his PT-19 as the camera ship. A little overcast, but pretty nice none the less.
Super guys and a super morning. Thanks to all!
I love this picture of the guy looking at his car. It hangs on the wall right outside of my office and I look at it every day. The first time I saw it, I instantly understood it and felt connected to it. If you work with your hands, you understand it too.
Last week, I was working in the shop with Nando and as we finished installing the cowling on the Waco, we both became that guy in the picture.
We just stood there with our arms at our sides taking it in.
Neither of us said a word. Nothing needed to be said.