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Vintage March 2012.

indd 1

3/2/12 8:55 AM

MARCH 2012

The Henleys Mark,

Tanner, and Johnathan
Mark is an ATP and has been
a pilot since 1976
Tanner is a student pilot who
flies every chance she gets
Jonathan is 18 and has been
a private pilot for one year

Our L-4 was based in the US During WWII from 1943 to 1945. We bought
it early this year and have enjoyed every minute of it. The stearman was built
in 1942 during WWII and we have owned it since 1975.
Owning and operating antique aircraft has been a part of our family for 3
generations going back to 1963 when my father Tom bought a Piper Tripacer. Our family has owned aircraft ever since. Our aviation roots run
deep in this family, and that is why we choose AUA as our agency. They
have a long distinguished record of service with the types of aircraft we
operate, and understand our problems and concerns.

Thanks AUA

Mark Henley
AUA is Vintage Aircraft Association approved. To become a member of VAA call 800-843-3612.

Aviation insurance with the EAA Vintage Program offers:

Lower premiums with payment options QAdditional coverages
On-line quote request available QAUA is licensed in all states

Flexibility on the use of your aircraft


Experienced agents


Remember, Were Better Together!

The best is affordable. Give AUA a call its FREE!

Fly with the pros fly with AUA Inc.
Vintage March 2012.indd 2

3/2/12 8:55 AM

Vol. 40, No. 3




Straight and Level

Cubs2Oshkosh and FAA funding
by Geoff Robison


Friends of the Red Barn

9 Travel Air: Performance and Dependability

The excitement of sharing it with people
by Sparky Barnes Sargent

14 Breaking Through the Clouds:

The First Womens National Air Derby
The story of grassroots aviation pioneers by a grassroots independent film producer
by Sparky Barnes Sargent

16 Achtung, Baby!
Prague E.114M Air Baby HB-UAF restored to flying condition
by Stefan Degraef


Light Plane Heritage

Exploring the Parasol Monoplane
by Bob Whittier


The Vintage Mechanic


Wood defects: Compression failure, shakes, checks, longitudinal cracks

by Robert G. Lock


The Vintage Instructor

A Proud Moment
by Steve Krog, CFI


EAA Publisher
Director of EAA Publications
Executive Director/Editor
Business Manager

Mystery Plane
by H.G. Frautschy




I Fly With The Best



Wearing the airplane

S. Michelle Souder


FRONT COVER: Joe Santana ares out as he gets r eady to tickle the grass airstrip at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh with his T ravel Air 3000. T urn to page nine for Sparky Bar nes Sar gents ar ticle
on this beautifully r estor ed example, which was on display during the 2011 salute to the centennial of U.S. Air Mail. V AA photo by H.G. Frautschy .

Rod Hightower
J. Mac McClellan
H.G. Frautschy
Kathleen Witman

Publication Advertising:
Manager/Domestic, Sue Anderson
Tel: 920-426-6127
Fax: 920-426-4828
Senior Business Relations Mgr, Trevor Janz
Tel: 920-426-6809
Classified Advertising Coordinator, Jo Ann Cody Simons
Tel: 920-426-6169
For missing or replacement magazines, or
any other membership-related questions, please call
EAA Member Services at 800- JOIN-EAA (564-6322).

BACK COVER: An alpine meadow isnt often the setting for an airplane in the pages of Vintage
Airplane, so we wer e quite pleased to bring you the stor y of a rar e Praga E.114M Air Baby . Stefan DeGraef sent us the stor y of this ne Swiss-r egister ed example fr om his home in Eur ope.
Photo by Edwin Bor remans.


Vintage March 2012.indd 3

3/2/12 8:56 AM


Geoff Robison

Cubs2Oshkosh and FAA funding

irVenture 2012 is now a

mere five months down
the road! Wow, there is so
much going on right now,
and so much to accomplish before
July sneaks up on us yet again. Every year I tell our Vintage volunteer group that the goal is to always
outdo ourselves from one year to the
next. The volunteer work weekends
are already completely planned out,
and were ready to launch into yet
another year of accomplishment on
the grounds at EAA. Its going to be
another great year at Oshkosh, so I
hope you will be able to join us for
another exciting event full of aviation and excitement.
Planning for the Cubs2Oshkosh event is already gaining a fair
amount of steam. This will certainly
be an event to remember. With the
exception of the wonderful yearly
Sentimental Journey fly-in that
takes place in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, I dont believe you could ever
see a bigger field of yellow Cubs; it
will be a magnificent thing to see.
I have been really impressed with
the number of folks who have already committed to participating in
the 75th anniversary of the beloved
Piper J-3 Cub. It all really makes me
want to just go out and buy one!
Be sure to stay connected to the official website (www.Cubs2Oshkosh.
org) to stay abreast of the latest information on how to participate in
this very special event. As our plans
come together, well get the word
out via that website and EAA and
VAAs official communications.
Join the forums area on the site
and share your enthusiasm for this
once-in-a-lifetime event with oth-

ers who are also planning to make

the trip. Be sure to click on the
Cubs Location link and check out
the map that shows where all of the
Cubs will be coming from. A number of individuals are already planning to hook up with other Cub
pilots traveling from the same general area en route to Oshkosh.
VAA Director/CFI Steve Krog, who
owns and operates several Cubs out
of the Hartford, Wisconsin, Municipal Airport (HXF), has graciously
reached out to the community of
Hartford and has already experienced a large interest from them
desiring to participate as a host community/gathering spot for the many
dozens of Piper Cubs en route to
AirVenture Oshkosh. Hartford, Wisconsin, is conveniently located 33
miles northwest of Milwaukee and
is a convenient short 60-mile flight
to Oshkosh. Hartford has a grass
strip (2,250 feet), and self-serve fuel
is available. Several other airports
around the country are also planning to host our Cub pilots while
en route to Oshkosh, and that information will be kept updated on the
forums area of the Cubs2Oshkosh
website. The parking/camping arrangements at Oshkosh will be ideally located in and around the Type
Club parking area. Be assured that
EAA and VAA are planning to make
your visit to this anniversary event
very special. Hope to see you there
with your Cub!
Theres finally some long-awaited
news from inside the beltway regarding the extensive efforts to get
a long-term FAA reauthorization
bill through Congress, which would
fund the agency for several years.

House and Senate conferees have

now managed to work out their differences and recently finalized the
language in the bill. The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the FAA
Reauthorization Bill, 75-20, on February 6, so its now headed to the
presidents desk for signature. If the
president signs the bill, the FAA will
have its first long-term funding plan
since 2007. This will finally end the
string of 23 short-term funding extensions that have kept the FAA operating since 2007, and will allow
the agency to plan and implement
some of its key projects and initiatives. EAA and other aviation groups
have long worked hard to have language included that benefits GA in
a variety of areas, including no user
fees or aviation fuel tax increases,
funding for airport improvement
projects and the NextGen air traffic
control system, as well as progress
for vintage aircraft data and airport
through-the-fence agreements. This
effort toward a full FAA reauthorization bill was the result of GA groups
being stronger together to represent our members and all aviators.
But, its not all good news for our
local airports that may now experience their local share on federally
funded airport improvement projects increase from 2.5 percent to 7.5
percent. This is going be painful for
some small airports that just simply
dont have those kinds of local funds
available to implement a large-scale
airport construction project.
Remember, we are better together. Join us and have it all.

2 MARCH 2012

Vintage March 2012.indd 4

3/2/12 8:58 AM

Vintage Aircraft Data
Newly signed FAA reauthorization bill allows for release of abandoned data


FAA reauthorization bill signed in early February by President Obama, as the measure included an EAA-supported
provision that authorizes the FAA to release certain type
certificate and design data for aircraft no longer supported
by a manufacturer.
The specific element of the bill (Section 302) provides
that the FAA can release abandoned data that is essential to safely maintain and operate vintage aircraft. That
includes data for aircraft such as those built by longdefunct companies whose type certificates were not acquired or maintained. Three years is the initial threshold
for inactivity. It also gives the FAA the authority to declare that data as abandoned, or releasable to the public
if aviation safety will be enhanced by the information for
aircraft, engines, propellers, and other aircraft appliances.
This is great progress for those who own and restore
vintage aircraft and preserve our aviation legacy, said
H.G. Frautschy, executive director of the Vintage Aircraft
Association, a special interest group within EAA. EAA
and VAA have been working for many years to eliminate
this dilemma for those who want to own, fly, and display
these magnificent aircraft. We have previously sought
and implemented policy and regulatory solutions to this
dilemma. Each effort has failed under legal pressure on
the FAA not to release solutions that could be considered
proprietary or intellectual property. It was clear that a legislative solution would be required.
An additional amendment to the reauthorization bill
(Section 816) requires the FAA to maintain engineer-

ing data relating to aircraft that were certificated between 1927 and 1939, and precludes
the destruction of any such airworthiness
and historically significant documentation.
The amendment also eliminates the ability of
type certificate holders from that period to
force the FAA to withhold such data under the
claims of trade secrets. The amendment was
proposed by longtime EAA member Greg Herrick, an owner and restorer of numerous vintage aircraft, and included in the legislation by
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri).
There are two initial and complementary
victories contained in the nearly decade-long
effort: the preservation and release of historically significant documentation necessary to
restore and maintain truly antique prewar aircraft contained in the Herrick Amendment, and the EAA
initiative giving the FAA authority to release the design
and airworthiness data for both pre- and post-World War
II general aviation aircraft that are no longer supported by
a manufacturer, said Doug Macnair, EAA vice president
of government relations.
These efforts do not give completely unfettered access to design data, continued Macnair, but they do go
a long way toward helping owners of antique and vintage
aircraft maintain these beautiful flying pieces of history.
The EAA effort also seeks to protect not only owners of
aircraft that are no longer supported by a manufacturer,
but also those that may not be supported in the future,
making this a long-term protection for all general aviation owners. We are very grateful to the FAA for their
collaboration in this effort and their willingness to introduce the original language into the early drafts of the
reauthorization bill on behalf of E AA and all who own
and fly vintage aircraft.
As with all new laws, time will show how effective these
measures prove to be in obtaining certification and design
data for older aircraft. EAA will be monitoring how this
process unfolds and is prepared to pursue additional remedies should they become necessary. For now, however,
owners of vintage aircraft have an opportunity to seek
data by filing a Freedom of Information Act request to
the FAA (visit the FAA FOIA office website at www.faa.
gov/foia) for the information necessary to restore and
maintain their aircraft, and those owners have a fighting
chance of actually obtaining it.

Vintage March 2012.indd 5

3/2/12 8:57 AM

User Fees: Good News,

Bad News



Nominate your favorite vintage aviator for

the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association H all of
Fame. A great honor could be besto wed upon
that man or woman wor king next to y ou on
your airplane, sitting next to you in the chapter
meeting, or walking next to y ou at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Think about the people in
your circle of aviation friends: the mechanic,
historian, photographer, or pilot who has shared
innumerable tips with you and with many others. They could be the next VAA Hall of Fame
inducteebut only if they are nominated.
The person you nominate can be a citiz en
of any country and may be living or deceased;
his or her involvement in vintage aviation must

have occurred between 1950 and the pr esent

day. His or her contribution can be in the areas
of flying, design, mechanical or aer odynamic
developments, administration, writing, some
other vital and relevant field, or any combination of fields that support aviation. The person
you nominate must be or hav e been a member of the Vintage Aircraft Association or the
Antique/Classic Division of EAA, and pr eference is given to those whose actions hav e contributed to the VAA in some way , perhaps as
a volunteer, a restorer who shares his expertise
with others, a writer, a photographer, or a pilot
sharing stories, preserving aviation history, and
encouraging new pilots and enthusiasts.

To nominate someone is easy. It just takes a little time and a little reminiscing on your part.
Think of a person; think of his or her contributions to vintage aviation.
Write those contributions in the various categories of the nomination form.
Write a simple letter highlighting these attributes and contributions. Make copies of
newspaper or magazine articles that may substantiate your view.
If at all possible, have another individual (or more) complete a form or write a letter about this
person, confirming why the person is a good candidate for induction.
This years induction ceremony will be held near the end of October. Well have follow-up
information once the date has been finalized.
We would like to take this opportunity to mention that if you have nominated someone for
the VAA Hall of Fame; nominations for the honor are kept on file for 3 years, after which the
nomination must be resubmitted.
Mail nominating materials to: VAA Hall of Fame, c/o Charles W. Harris, Transportation Leasing Corp.
PO Box 470350
Tulsa, OK 74147
Remember, your contemporary may be a candidate; nominate someone today!
Find the nomination form at, or call the VAA office for a copy
(920-426-6110), or on your own sheet of paper, simply include the following information:
Date submitted.
Name of person nominated.
Address and phone number of nominee.
E-mail address of nominee.
Date of birth of nominee. If deceased, date of death.
Name and relationship of nominees closest living relative.
Address and phone of nominees closest living relative.
VAA and EAA number, if known. (Nominee must have been or is a VAA member.)
Time span (dates) of the nominees contributions to vintage aviation.
(Must be between 1950 to present day.)
Area(s) of contributions to aviation.
Describe the event(s) or nature of activities the nominee has undertaken in aviation to
be worthy of induction into the VAA Hall of Fame.
Describe achievements the nominee has made in other related fields in aviation.
Has the nominee already been honored for his or her involvement in aviation and/or the
contribution you are stating in this petition? If yes, please explain the nature of the
honor and/or award the nominee has received.
Any additional supporting information.
Submitters address and phone number, plus e-mail address.
Include any supporting material with your petition.

The possibility of GA user fees just

wont go away, despite more than a
decade of congressional opposition
from both parties and overwhelming
negative responses from the aviation
community. Already in early 2012 we
have heard good news and bad news
on the subject.
First the good ne ws: The final
language in the first full FAA reauthorization bill in five years passed
both houses of Cong ress in early
February and was signed by President Obama on Feb. 14. It contains
no provision for user fees and no increase in the aviation fuel tax, which
is GAs fair contribution to FAAs
funding. The reauthorization bill
was a goal of EAAs advocacy efforts,
as it stabilizes the agencys funding
and planning through 2015 and allows major initiatives such as NextGen and airport improvements to
move forward.
Now for the bad ne ws: The
Obama administrations proposed
Fiscal Year 2013 budget includes a
$100-per-flight user fee for selected
GA aircraft flying within controlled
airspace. While the budget proposal
would exempt all piston aircraft, military aircraft, public aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside
of controlled airspace, and Canadato-Canada f lights, the plan would
create additional financial burdens
for GA and require new bureaucracy
to administer user fee collection. It
also opens the door to an eventual
expansion of user fees to other private aircraft and GA operations.
E AA and fellow G A groups responded immediately to the budget
proposal. The leadership of GA caucuses in the House and Senate has
been alerted to the need to again oppose the user-fee plan.
User fees is an issue where the
concept of stronger together is
essential. It is the unified strength
of aviators and their representative groups such as EAA, AOPA, and
others fighting a specific proposal
when it emerges in Washington that
will prevail.

4 MARCH 2012

Vintage March 2012.indd 6

3/2/12 9:00 AM

EAA Skiplane Fly-In

Like so many locations here in the northern half of the United States, the winter has
been unusually mild (yes, we consider 25
degrees F to be a mild winter!) and very dry,
with little snowfall. Happily, theres been
exactly one Saturday when the annual EAA
Skiplane Fly-In at Pioneer Airport could
have accommodated skiplanes, and that was
Saturday, January 21. With just the right
amount of snow on the ground, 33 skiplanes
flew in and participated, joining hundreds
of attendees on the ground. A last-minute
snowfall the day before covered Pioneers
runway, drawing planes from three states.
The gathering was also a celebration of
Audrey Pobereznys birthday, and attendees enjoyed celebratory chili, soup, and
birthday cake inside one of the Pioneer Airport hangars.
EAAs Sweepstakes Cub sporting new
TrickAir wheel-penetration skis was a popular participant, prompting several attendees to enter the sweepstakes on the spot. A
list of attending skiplanes appears at www.

EAAs grand prize Piper Cub was on hand, complete with a new set of
TrickAir Skis. You can win this Cub this summer when its awarded to
some lucky EAA Sweepstakes supporter. For more information, visit the
Win the Cub Sweepstakes website at,
or see the insert in the April issue of Sport Aviation.

Right: Rick Kluvers Piper J3C-65 painted

up as a NE-1, the Navys version of the
L-4. His NE-1 isnt knock-kneed, its just
that the port ski has stuck with its nose
in the same position it was in while the
Cub rested on the ground. When a ski
is stuck in this way, while its not the
preferred way to have a ski hang up,
all is well as long as a wheel landing
isnt attempted. Normally, a length of
cable and bungee cord will keep the
tips slightly up in relation to the centerline of the airplane, like the position of the starboard ski.

What Our Members Are Restoring

Are you nearing completion of a r estoration? Or is it done

and your e busy flying and showing it of f? If so, wed like to
hear from you. Send us a 4-by-6-inch print fr om a commer cial
sour ce (no home printers, pleasethose prints just dont
scan well) or a 4-by-6-inch, 300-dpi digital photo. A JPG fr om
your 2.5-megapixel (or higher) digital camera is ne. You can
burn photos to a CD, or if your e on a high-speed Inter net
connection, you can e-mail them along with a text-only or
Word document describing your airplane. (If your e-mail
program asks if youd like to make the photos smaller , say
no.) For more tips on cr eating photos we can publish, visit
VAAs website at Check the News
page for a hyperlink to W ant To Send Us A Photograph?

For more information, you can also e-mail us at

or call us at 920-426-4825.

Vintage March 2012.indd 7

3/2/12 9:01 AM

Friends of the Red Barn 2012

Each year at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh the largest single space for the
display of enthusiasts aircraft is the
Vintage parking and camping area.
For four decades its been not only a
picturesque scene of the finest restored
airplanes in this country, but also a
gathering place for aviation people and
their magnificent machines to share
knowledge and friendship.
Each day during the convention, we
get to see the widest variety possible of
airplanes, including a few one-of-a-kind
aircraft. Dont forget the special Type
Club parking area, where we host many
examples of a particular manufacturers
airplane. From replica race planes to
the American Barnstormers Tour, the
amazing colors and outlines of the
golden age of aviation are on display
for all to see each year. All of this is possible through the efforts of the nearly
500 VAA volunteers, the volunteer VAA
board of directors, and the VAA staff.
Their passion is what makes it a
great place to be throughout the week
of AirVenture, and its why so many
visitors and aviation enthusiasts come
back year after year to work, relax, and
enjoy aviations premier event. Its a
place to rekindle old friendships and
make new ones. A time to relax and
enjoy aviation, learn something new,
and rub elbows with our fellow aviators.
As you can imagine, it takes some fairly
substantial financial resources to underwrite such an event, and the Vintage
area at EAA AirVenture is no exception.
The Vintage Aircraft Association
has, by necessity, elected to underwrite a portion of its yearlong activities with funds other than members
dues. The proceeds from this fund
pay for all sorts of volunteer activities
and improvements to the VAA area,
as well as supporting VAA advocacy
efforts and educational endeavors. It
serves as working capital for improvements such as the Vintage Hangar,
the VAA Flightline Safety Operations
Center as well as for upkeep of many

structures. Theres never a shortage of

windows that need caulking, doors
that need to be replaced, and roofs
that need to be repaired. To be certain, almost all of the labor involved
is performed by our dedicated and
talented volunteers, but what about
the cost of supplies and hardware?
Thats where our Friends of the Red
Barn campaign comes init provides
all of us, who wish, the opportunity to
assist in the vital financial support of
the VAAs activities.
Were most appreciative of the
contributions made by hundreds of
VAAers who see the tangible benefits of
supporting their fellow VAA members
in this manner. As a critical part of the
VAA budget, the fund pays for such
diverse items as VAA awards presented
during the annual EAA Vintage Aircraft
Awards program, special recognition
for our many volunteers, and expenses
associated with our special displays, forums, and educational areas such as the
VAA Workshop and Type Club areas in
the Vintage Hangar.
Your annual contribution made in
the first half of 2012 will directly benefit this years convention activities and
VAA programs throughout the year.
Please consider actively participating in the 2012 VAA Friends of the Red
Barn Campaign. Your donation may be
tax-deductible to the extent allowed by
law, and you can enhance your participation if you work for a matching gift
company. You can do so by copying
and filling out the form included on
these pages, by filling out and sending
in the form included in the mailing
that will arrive in many of your mailboxes in April, or by donating online
redbarn.html. If you desire more information concerning the VAA Friends of
the Red Barn Campaign, feel free to call
us at 920-426-6110. Wed be happy to
speak with you!
Many services are provided to
vintage aircraft enthusiasts at EAA

AirVenture Oshkosh. From parking

airplanes to feeding people at the Tall
Pines Caf and Red Barn, volunteers
do it all. Some may ask, If volunteers
are providing the services, where is
the expense?
Glad you asked. The scooters for the
flightline crew need repair and batteries, and the Red Barn needs paint, new
windowsills, updated wiring, and other
sundry repairs, plus we love to care for
our volunteers with special recognition
caps and a pizza party. The list really
could go on and on, but no matter how
many expenses we can point out, the
need remains constant. The Friends of
the Red Barn fund helps pay for the
VAA expenses at EAA AirVenture, and
its a crucial part of the Vintage Aircraft
Association budget.
Please help the VAA and our nearly
500 dedicated volunteers make this an
unforgettable experience for our many
EAA AirVenture guests.
Your contribution now really does
make a difference. There are seven levels of gifts and gift recognition. Thank
you for whatever you can do.
Here are some of the many activities the Friends of the Red Barn fund
Red Barn Information Desk Supplies
Participant Plaques and Supplies
Tonis Red Carpet Express Van and
Radio Rental
Caps for VAA Volunteers
Pizza Party for VAA Volunteers
Flightline Parking Scooters and Supplies
Breakfast for Past Grand Champions
Volunteer Booth Administrative Supplies
Membership Booth Administrative
Signs Throughout the Vintage Area
Red Barns and Other Buildings
Tall Pines Cafe Tent Rental and
Kitchen Updates
Flightline Safety Operations Center
And More!

6 MARCH 2012

Vintage March 2012.indd 8

3/2/12 9:04 AM

Become a Friend of the Red Barn.

Help the VAA make EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
an unforgettable experience for our many guests.
Diamond Plus


EAA VIP Center

2 People/Full Wk

VIP Airshow Seating

2 People/2 Days

2 People/1 Day

Full Week

Full Week

Close Auto Parking


2 Tickets

2 Tickets

1 Ticket

2 People/Full Wk

2 People/Full Wk

2 People/Full Wk

1 Person/Full Wk

Tri Motor Certicate

Special FORB Cap

Two Passes to VAA Volunteer Party

Special FORB Badge

Access to Volunteer Center
Donor Appreciation Certicate
Name Listed: Vintage Airplane
Magazine, Website and Sign at Red Barn



Loyal Supporter
$99 & Under

2 Days

2 Tickets

Two Tickets to VAA Picnic

Breakfast at Tall Pines Cafe


This star represents qualifying tribute for level of participation.

VAA Friends of the Red Barn

Name______________________________________________________________________EAA #___________ VAA #___________

Please choose your level of participation:
____ Diamond Plus $1,500.00

____ Silver Level Gift - $250.00

____ Diamond Level Gift - $1,000.00

____ Bronze Level Gift - $100.00

____ Platinum Level Gift - $750.00

____ Loyal Supporter Gift - ($99.00 or under) $_______


____ Gold Level Gift - $500.00

Payment Enclosed (Make checks payable to Vintage Aircraft Assoc.)
Please Charge my credit card (below)
Credit Card Number _____________________________ Expiration Date _________

Mail your contribution to:

PO Box 3086
OSHKOSH, WI 54903-3086

*Do you or your spouse work for a matching gift company? If so, this gift may qualify for a matching donation.
Please ask your Human Resources department for the appropriate form.

Name of Company __________________________________________________________________


No badge wanted for this year.
Yes, prepare a name badge to read:
First M. Last (Please print just as you wish your badge to read)
The Vintage Aircraft Association is a non-profit educational organization under IRS 501c3 rules. Under Federal Law, the deduction from Federal Income tax for
charitable contributions is limited to the amount by which any money (and the value of any property other than money) contributed exceeds the value of the goods or
services provided in exchange for the contribution. An appropriate receipt acknowledging your gift will be sent to you for IRS gift reporting reasons.


Vintage March 2012.indd 9

3/2/12 9:05 AM



Whats on 285
AirVenture bucket list?
Go to to share your list with others
and buy your AirVenture 2012 tickets today. Or call 1-800-564-6322
to speak with an EAA Member Services representative.

The Worlds Greatest Aviation Celebration | July 23-29, 2012

Copyright 2012 EAA

Vintage March 2012.indd 10

3/2/12 9:05 AM

Tra vel Air :

Performance and
by Sparky B arnes Sargent

The excitement of
sharing it with people!


Vintage March 2012.indd 11

3/2/12 9:05 AM


The 1928 Travel Air was own for re-creation scenes for the lm.


Wing to fuselage t, rear view.


Aft cockpit seat.



Instrument panel.


gleaming new Travel Air Model 3000 (C-5427,

s/n 516) climbed aloft in the summer skies
above Wichita, Kansas, for its first flight in
1928. Powered by a water-cooled, 8e-cylinder
Hispano-Suiza Hisso Model E 180-hp engine,
its wings embraced the sky as its elephant-ear
ailerons created a distinctive silhouette on the tips of its 34foot, 8-inch wingspan (lower span 28 feet 8 inches). The new
three-place biplane measured 24 feet, 3 inches from its wood
prop to tailskid. It carried 42 gallons of fuel and could cruise at
100 mph with a range of more than 400 miles.
A perusal of this Travel Airs records is a glance back into
familiar aviation history. The first document in its airworthiness file is the manufacturers affidavit, which states that the
airplane was manufactured on June 7, 1928, in conformity to
ATC No. 31 and was signed by Walter H. Beech and notarized
by Olive Mellor of Travel Air Manufacturing Co. Inc.
The Travel Air Manufacturing Company of Wichita, Kansas,
touted its new biplane as typical of the proverbial brilliant
performance with dependability that characterizes all Travel Air
Biplanes (Aero Digest, April 1928). Two years later, the Travel Air
Company Division of Curtiss-Wright advertised the Travel Air as:
A Plane for Every PurposeSportsmen Penetrate the Wilds
in Their Travel Airs. In commercial flying, Travel Airs daily
ply their way over mail, transport, and business corporation
routes. They constitute a major proportion of all commercial
planes in service in the United States. And in distance and
speed contests, these planes capture firsts with a regularity
that is almost monotonous (Country Life, April 1930).
Speaking of contests, it was pioneering aviatrix Louise
Thaden who cheerfully focused the media spotlight on Travel
Airs. She was an employee of Douglas C. Warren, the West
Coast Travel Air dealer, and her employer encouraged her
record-setting efforts.
Louise set a womens altitude record of 20,260 feet on December 7, 1928, in a Hisso-powered Travel Air (C-5425) at the
Oakland Airport. In March 1929, she flew Travel Air C-5426
(sister ship to Joes C-5427) and set a solo endurance record of
22 hours, 3 minutes, 28 secondsagain at the Oakland Airport.
The biplane was modified for the task, and featured DC War-

10 MARCH 2012

Vintage March 2012.indd 12

3/2/12 9:06 AM

ren Northern California Distributor for Travel-Air on the fuselage.

Current Caretaker
Joe Santana grew up in Sacramento, California, where his
neighbor first introduced him to
aviation. He had a homebuilt Stits
Playboy at the airport, and he used
to let me sit in it, shares Joe. After
I soloed at 17 and earned my private that summer, he also took me
to my first EAA meeting.
Joe also spent a lot of time hanging around a duster strip just south of
Sacramento. Thats where he started
learning about the joys of old biplanes and the pilots who flew them.
Back in the early 1970s, my first airplane was a Luscombe, and I flew off
a strip at Clarksburg. There was a person who restored dusters there, and
they were using N3N Stearmans and
Travel Airs for dusting. I used to sit
around with those guys at the shop,
and the old duster pilots used to tell
me that a 220-hp Travel Air could
outfly a 450-hp Stearman, recollects
Joe, adding, I really wanted to get an
old biplane, and I decided I wanted a
Travel Air, because it cruises fast, flies
real well, and hauls a good load.
Finding that Travel Air would
take a few decades, though. In the
meantime, he tried college after
high school, but just didnt take to
scholastic bookwork very well. So
he obtained his A&P and CFI and
taught flying for a while. He worked
for a Piper dealer in Sacramento and
then started flying DC-3 freightersand even flew as a fish and
game warden pilot, using a Beech
18 to plant fish in the high Sierras.
In 1985, he was hired by Pacific
Southwest Airlines (PSA). Today, Joe
resides in the scenic Shenandoah
Valley in Waynesboro, Virginia. Hes
captain of an Airbus 320 and enjoys
his ongoing long-term career with
PSA (now merged with US Airways).
In 2004, his long-held dream of
owning a Travel Air became tangible.

Bit O History
Twenty-seven years before Joe
was born, a brand new Travel Air

(C-5427) was sold to D.C. Warren

Company at Oakland Airport in
San Francisco. In April 1929, the
biplane was sold to W.J. Browne
of Stockton, California, and it remained in the Golden State for
years. In January 1943, the biplane
landed in the hands of Harry Newell of Phoenix, Arizona. It stayed in
The Grand Canyon state for nearly
three decades.
In 1945, the biplane was converted for use in crop dusting and
seeding. A hopper, agitator, and
gearbox were installed. The elevator
controls were modified, and a center section fuel tank was installed.
The Hisso was removed, and a
9-cylinder, 220-hp Wright Whirlwind J-5A was installed (changing
the biplane to a Model 4000).
In 1947, owners Wayne J. Kempainen and James A. Strand of
Farm Aero Service in Phoenix had
the Wright J-5A and motor mount
removed, and a Lycoming motor
mount and Lycoming R680-9 installed, along with a Stearman oil
tank and modified exhaust stack
that extended over the top wing.
In February 1970, NC5427 landed
in the hands of PSA Captain Spencer Nelson of San Diego. Spence
was very well-known in the Travel
Air world as a restorer, explains
Joe, and he and PSA mechanics
Jim Ward and Harry Somers worked
with him to rebuild the biplane.
After Spence died in a PSA midair
collision in September 1978, Jim and
Harry continued with their Travel
Air West restoration company. They
sold NC5427 to Leland Jones of Anchorage [in 1983], with the agreement that Travel Air West would
continue the restoration work,
which they finished in 1991. Jim
and Harry put the overhauled Continental W-670 on it and converted
it back to standard configuration.
The biplane required extensive
work; the men essentially rebuilt
the entire aft fuselage, and replaced
the old firewall with stainless steel,
and installed new 3/8-inch birch
plywood floorboards. They fabricated and installed a new front in-

strument panel of laminated birch

plywood and a new aft cockpit
panel of laminated birch and rosewood, as well as installing new seat
belts and a shoulder harness in the
aft cockpit.
They replaced all of the woodwork on the fuselage, and fabricated new stainless steel control
cables. The biplane was finished
with Stits Aerothane in an elegant
combination of dark green on the
fuselage and cream-colored wings.
Joe took note of this handsome
Travel Air during his PSA overnights
in San Diego, and discovered that it
had already been flown 105 hours
since its restoration. He bought the
biplane from then-registered owner
Carolyn Jones of Alaska in August 2004. Then I flew it home to
Waynesboro, says Joe, smiling, and
have had the airplane ever since. Ive
probably put 220 hours on it, flying
it mostly during the summers.

Flight Transition
Despite his fairly extensive flying time in 2004including 3,500
hours of tailwheel timethe insurance company wanted Joe to log five
hours of time with a flight instructor
in the Travel Air in order to insure it.
It really worked out great,
shares Joe enthusiastically, elaborating, Captain Dick Doll, who
was No. 1 on the PSA seniority list,
did some of the flying on the airplane when it was first restored.
Dick started out flying in dusters
and raced P-51s at Reno, and I was
never senior enough to fly with
him on PSAso I asked him if hed
check me out. He said, Yeah, sure!
What a pleasure that was! The first
time we went out, he flew it from
the back seat and put me up front,
where theres just a stick and throttle. He said, Lets go out and makes
sure it stalls and falls through okay,
because it hadnt flown for a while.
So we flew around for 15-20 minutes, and he shot a landing with it,
and then we taxied back in. Then
he puts me in the back seat and he
gets in the frontwe flew the five
hours in two days and shot a bunch


Vintage March 2012.indd 13

3/2/12 9:06 AM

of landings. That was a real treat,

because hes such a great guy.
Exceptionally pleased with his
Travel Air, Joe says, It flies great! It
lifts off around 55 mph, climbs right
out, and cruises about 95-97 mph
indicated, at low altitude. I fly final
around 55-60 mph, and its pretty
straightforward in a crosswind. It
originally had a skid, but now it has
a tail wheel. The 12-inch mechanical brakes are original for that airplane and work great. Theyre good
enough, and thats what you want
on that airplane. It burns 12 gph at
cruise and holds 68 gallons of fuel,
with 26 in the center section and 42
in the main tank. The longest leg Ive
flown is 4 hours and 45 minutes, and
it burned about 52 gallons before I
landedand it had 16 gallons left.
Joe hasnt had any maintenance
challenges with the Travel Airbut
it has had a few repairs. Incidents can
happen to any pilot, and Joe unabashedly admits that he ground looped
it at Oshkosh two years ago, so Ted
Davis in Wisconsin repaired the lower
left wing. That was a good opportunity to do some other work, so we had
the engine overhauled by Al Holloway
in California. We also discovered that
one wheel was crackedwhich was
unrelated to the ground loopso we
replaced that as well. Other than that,
the airplane hasnt had any significant
work done since the 1991 restoration
by Travel Air West.

Making Modern-day
Truthfully, Joe is really a modernday barnstormer at heart. The reason is pretty simple: He derives the
most joy from flying his biplane

built for three across the

country and sharing the
experience with others.
(And hes currently treasurer of the Travel Air
Restorers Association.) Of
course, sharing starts at
home; hes enjoyed taking his two sons up for
early-evening flights in
the Shenandoah Valley.
(His youngest son, Peter,
has just earned an instrument rating,
and his older son, Paul, is a Blackhawk pilot with the National Guard
in Iraq.) The Travel Air is a great airplane, and we have a lot of fun with
it, shares Joe.
His biplane was featured during
the Vintage Aircraft Associations
centennial celebration of the first
air mail flight in the United States,
which was held during EAA AirVenture 2011. Though NC5427 was not
owned by Pacific Air Transport, it was
selected as an example of the type
that flew the mail. Andrew King of
Virginia called me to see if I was interested in bringing the Travel Air for
the air mail display at Oshkosh, explains Joe, and he was familiar with
Pacific Air Transporttheir planes
were green and cream, and they did
have a Travel Air. So my airplane was
a good representation of that. We
got some original pictures of a Travel
Air 4000 that were taken at Pearson
Field, which was one of their terminals in Vancouver. Thats how we
replicated the Pacific Air Transport
Air Mail graphics for the fuselage,
which we put on just for Oshkosh.
NC5427 also enjoyed a bit of
movie star status during AirVenture,
when independent film producer
and director Heather Taylors Breaking
Through the Clouds: The First Womens
National Air Derby was screened. (www., see accompanying movie overview.)
Back in 2009, Joe spent Memorial
Day weekend at the Golden Age Air
Museums airfield in Grimes, Pennsylvania. Once again, it was Andrew
King who had extended a special invitation to Joeto fly his Travel Air
during the filming of a documentary

about the First Womens Transcontinental Air Derby of 1929. Andrew

was aerial coordinator for the film,
and Joe was happy to participate,
along with several other antique airplane owners.
The photo planes were a Breezy
and a J-3 Cub. Describing the experience and the film itself, Joe explains,
Heather worked on this film, on her
own, for 13 years. She gathered unbelievable amounts of archival footage about the women and the Air
Derby, and includes that in the film.
She filmed our airplanes because they
were similar to ones that flew in the
Air Derby, and that way she could include current color footage to bring
the airplanes to life for the audience.
We filmed for a couple of days, and
we each flew about three hours.

Built for Sharing

Joe has been depositing numerous
experiences in his memory bank of
favorite Travel Air flights since 2004.
Though hes enjoyed them all, there
is one particular annual deposit
that registers at the top of his account.
Probably the greatest thing we do
with this airplane is taking it to the
Dirksens family farm in Winchester,
Indiana. The year before last, I took
three people upand they were in
their 30s, but they had never been
in an airplane before in their life. We
go to the Dirksens, and their kids are
so excited to have us come, and they
treat us so well!
We get to land in their hayfield,
and the whole town comes out, and
we give rides. I mean, thats what its
all about, shares Joe exuberantly,
and to fly with Ted Davis, Andrew
King, Jim Hammond, Steve Roth,
and Bob Coolbaugh is just such a
treat. Some of those guys are the best
pilots Ive ever seen, and Ive been
flying for many years. The excitement of having the Travel Air is being able to go out every summer and
fly with those guys. Thats what its
forwe share it with people! [Note:
The Dirksens farm is featured in the
documentary BarnstormingFriends
Really Can Drop Out of the Sky. Filmed
in 2009, it candidly describes the

12 MARCH 2012
Vintage March 2012.indd 14

3/2/12 11:06 AM


Heather Taylor with Joe Santana, during the lming of Breaking

Through the Clouds.


ularly, and continues bringing

joy not only to its caretaker, but
to many others across the country. And its still pleasing to the
discerning eyes of aircraft judges
at fly-ins. Thats quite understandable, since NC5427 still
looks like its fresh out of restorationeven though its been
20 years. This handsome biplane received two awards to its
credit this past year: the Silver
Age (1928-1936) Champion
Bronze Lindy at EAA AirVenture
Oshkosh, and the Travel Air
Type Club Award at the Antique
Airplane Associations annual
invitational fly-in. Joe readily
credits these awards to the restoration efforts of Travel Air West
and recently affixed a tasteful
brass plaque to the aft portion
of the fuselage, as a way of paying homage to Jim Ward and
Harry Somers.

Engine assembly.


unusual friendship formed between a farming family and

aviators who first landed in
their hay field in 1999. www.]
He also flies the Travel Air to
Hagerstown, Indiana, for another fun gatheringthe Hagerstown Or Bust Ford Model T
and vintage airplane fly-in. Literally hundreds of Model Ts
from across the country show
up there on the fairgrounds,
and they have a nice grass field
for the airplanes, adds Joe,
smiling, We do a balloon bust
there, a flour bomb drop, and
Ted gives rides in the New Standard. Well also fly to Brodhead,
Wisconsin, and Blakesburg,
Iowa, for those fly-ins.
One thing is certainwhen
the Travel Air landed in Joes
hands in 2004, it found a very
good home, indeed. It flies reg-

Fabrication of turtledeck.



Applying Poly-Brush.


The sun rises and lights up Joe Santanas Travel Air on the ight line at AAAs
y-in at Blakesburg, Iowa.

Tailfeathers in silver.

Vintage March 2012.indd 15

3/2/12 10:52 AM

Breaking Through the Clouds:

The First Womens

National Air Derby
The story of grassroots aviation pioneers
by a grassroots independent film producer
by Sparky B arnes Sargent
Tenacity, ambition, spirited passion, personal convictionthese are
some of the qualities that imbued
the 20 participants in the First Womens National Air Derby in 1929.
Three-quarters of a century later,
aspiring filmmaker Heather Taylor

heard about those women pilots

who undertook that nine-day race
across the country, and instantly felt
a connection. Inspired by their accomplishments, and sharing those
same personal qualities, Heather felt
an irresistible inner calling to convey

the nearly forgotten stories of those

Derby fliers. Those elements, combined with a burgeoning technical
knowledge of filmmaking, led her on
a 13-year quest to create a colorful
documentary about them.
Heather grew up in an aviation fam-

14 MARCH 2012

Vintage March 2012.indd 16

3/2/12 9:07 AM

ily, and her direct inspiration to create

the documentary arose during a conversation with the legendary Evelyn
Bryan Johnson in Morristown, Tennessee. Known as Mama Bird, Evelyn has
logged 57,635.4 hours of flight time.
Heather had the opportunity to meet
Evelyn, and recalls asking her a few
questions about the races and how they
began. As she talked, says Heather,
something just clicked inside of my
gut, and I knew this was the story I had
been looking for. Heather embraced
her own challenge and resigned from
her position with Discovery Communications in mid-2007, in order to devote
her full-time energy to the task.
Filmmaking can be a tedious undertaking. In Heathers case, it was
similar to a first-time aircraft restorer
tackling a ground-up restoration.
Heather shares that the most significant challenge she encountered
while creating this film was likely her
own confidenceor lack thereof.
I had been in the industry over
a decade, had a masters in producing film and video, but I had never
produced my own film, she admits,
adding, The other significant challenge was finding the right people
to help work on the film. But in the
end, I met some incredibly talented
and gifted people and am grateful for
what they brought to the project.
Though there were times when
Heather really didnt know how she
was going to achieve her goal, that
wasnt a deterrentin fact, it turned
her personal resolve into tangible action. Id never written a scriptand
[eventually realized that] I had to be
the one to write the film. [Another
challenge] that took years to work
through was how to actually begin
such a vast subject, says Heather,
elaborating, I credit story consultant Fernanda Rossi with helping me
. . . break the project down into sizable portions and decide what I felt
was the most important.
Breaking Through the Clouds masterfully threads modern color footage
in with extensive archival footage.
The new footage includes the following airplanes from the vintage/
antique community, which were se-

lected by Aerial Coordinator Andrew

King as representative of the types
flown in the 1929 Air Derby: 1928
Travel Air 4000 (Joe Santana), 1929
Speedwing Travel Air B9-4000 (Bill
Plecenik), 1930 Monocoupe 90 (Bob
Coolbaugh), 1928 Monocoupe 70
and 1929 Waco GXE (Paul Dougherty), and 1930 Fleet 7 (Mike ONeal).
Ever attentive to detail, Heather
ensured that when the audience sees
archival footage of Louise Thadens
Travel Air flying, they hear a Wright
J-5 engine and not some other engineand she did this as closely as
possible with each aircraft.
Watching this documentary makes
it easy for viewers to feel as though
they have been personally introduced to each of the featured women

I can only hope

that . . . it will inspire
others to take a risk of
their own and contribute
to the world in their own
unique way.
Heather Taylor
pilots. The transitional graphics were
tastefully done, the clips of the original pilot licenses added even more
historical detail, and the personal interviews (especially with Pat Thaden
Webb, Margaret Whitman Blair, and
Elinor Smith Sullivan) added great
depth to the documentary.
Heather offers a bit more insight to
the film, and her own personal philosophy, by sharing: Even though
the derby happened in 1929, the lessons, experiences, and courage the
women displayed are life lessons for
us today, and so I do not think of it
as history. Rather, I think the women
are role models for us all on how to
act when something excites you and
captures your imagination.
Once you find that energy, then
you must have the passion and courage to follow through to bring these
ideas to the forefront. We all have

been given talents and gifts, and it is

our responsibility, in my opinion, to
nurture, develop, and explore those
interests, no matter how irrational
it may be. To do so means giving
back to the world and making it a
better place. The women in 1929 did
this with gusto. I can only hope that
by exploring my interest in these
women and bringing their story forward, it will inspire others to take a
risk of their own and contribute to
the world in their own unique way.
Most any project comes bearing not only cloudy challenges, but
the proverbial silver linings, as well.
Heather thoughtfully reflects, One
perspective I gained in researching
all about these women is that rather
than seeing them as icons or legends
per se, I realized they were just people
too, doing something they felt called
to do, and they went and did it. In the
end, I lovelearning from those who
have overcome their own personal
obstacles to achieve something.
Heather eloquently sums up her
unique mission in creating her film
company, Archetypal Images, with the
following statement: to produce
films that explore and harness that
light in the eyes of people who have
found their calling in life, and share
that sparkle with others who are still
searching to find their own passion.
It is clear that Heather has discovered her own calling in life, and her
passion for accuracy and authentic detail was the catalyst for her
to achieve excellence in her work.
Breaking Through the Clouds: The First
Womens National Air Derby has received the National Aviation Hall
of Fames 9th Annual Combs Gates
Award, the Indie Award of Excellence, is an IDA/ABC News VideoSource Award finalist, and has been
officially selected for numerous independent film festivals.
Those of us who treasure aviation
history heartily applaud Heathers efforts and extend gratitude to her for
having the inner fortitude and vision
to bring this documentary to fruition.
For more information about the film
and ordering details, please visit www.


Vintage March 2012.indd 17

3/2/12 9:07 AM

Achtung, Baby!
Praga E.114M Air Baby
HB-UAF restored
to flying status


he Thunersee, a
12,000 acre lake located in the Swiss
Berner Oberland region, dominates one
of the countrys most
stunning flying regions, dividing
fertile wetlands on its northern border and various Alpine giants to the
south in a most dramatic and eyecatching manner.
In summertime this heterogeneous airspace is crisscrossed by
Switzerlands most unique pelicanshaped vintage aircraft, made airworthy only some few months ago: a
blue/white colored Czech-built Praga
E.114M Air Baby. This 1947 Air Baby,

registered HB-UAF for more than

four decades, is the sole remaining
flying specimen of its kind and a very
welcome member of Switzerlands
vintage aircraft community.

From Its Early Life . . .

Praga E.114M Air Baby lightweight aircraft were manufactured
starting in 1934 by the Ceskomoravska-Kolben-Danek Praga
A.S (aka CKD-Praga) aircraft factory
in Prague (Czechoslovakia). Production ceased during World War II.
Following the German occupation and World War II, Praga
restarted its aircraft-building activities immediately after the wars

end. During this period, ending in

1948, 110 E.114D (with a 75-hp engine) and M models (powered by
the Walter Micron III 65-hp engine)
were produced. The Walter Mikron III, developed in the mid-30s
and actually still in production, is
a four-cylinder, air-cooled, inverted
straight engine, optimized for use
in light general aviation aircraft.
The British firm F. Hills & Sons acquired a manufacturing license and
built the E.114 as the Hillson Praga
at its factory at Trafford Park, near
Manchester. In total Hillson built
39 aircraft before World War II. Another 26 E.114Ms were built by the
Rudy Letov company.

16 MARCH 2012

Vintage March 2012.indd 18

3/2/12 9:08 AM

The Czech-built Praga E.114M

Air Baby c/n 119 was constructed
in 1947 and was immediately exported to southern France. After arrival at Cannes in November 1947,
this factory-fresh single-engined
aircraft received its F-BCSN registration. Having spent some 10 years
as part of the Aeroclub du Var at
the French Riviera, the aircraft was
sold mid-1957 to a Swiss owner,
who based the aircraft at Thun and
registered c/n 119 in its new Swiss
HB-UAF identity.
Its Swiss flying career would only
last 14 years. Soon after its last
documented flight out of Thun on
October 24, 1971, the aircraft was

dismantled and stored, predestined

to be lost for eternity. In 1982 the
remains were purchased by Fritz
Moser, who stored the wings of the
aircraft in a barn at Suderen, located close to Thun. The fuselage
and engine were stored in Mosers
garage at home.
The peaceful but hibernal sleep
of HB-UAF would last some two decades, before Fritz Moser and his
son, Andre, showed a willingness to
restore the aircraft to its former flying status. The long-lasting inactivity of the aircraft, however, needed
an in-depth evaluation of the overall condition of the wooden structure of the fuselage and wings.

Overall assessment by Max Brugger, constructor of a Colibri MB

lightweight-built aircraft, proved to
be positive and started the lengthy
process of overhauling and restoring the aircrafts remains, plus the
manufacture of missing parts. Some
parts have not been available for decades, either in the market or within
the vintage aircraft community.

. . . To Its Reincarnation
The restoration started in 2004 and
would eventually last some six years.
Its wooden framework surprisingly in
good condition, the aircraft was completely stripped down and almost
rebuilt from scratch. The original


Vintage March 2012.indd 19

3/2/12 9:08 AM

Walter Mikron III engine was sent for

overhaul and revision to Parma Technic in the Czech Republic. In 1999
this Czech engine company received
official approval from the Czech avia-

tion authorities to overhaul and repair these types of engines. Some

of the parts of the aircraft including the brakes were rebuilt by Andre
Moser. Additional overhaul was per-

Praga E.114 M
General characteristics


7.05 meters (23.12 feet)


11 meters (36 feet)

Wing area

16.20 square meters (174.375 square feet)

Empty weight

370 kilograms (815.7 pounds)

Max takeo weight

585 kilograms (1,290 pounds)


Walter Mikron III four-cylinder, aircooled, inverted straight engine (65 hp)

Maximum speed

187 kph (116 mph)

Cruise speed

165 kph (102 mph)


730 kilometers (454 miles)

Service ceiling

4,300 meters (14,107 feet)

Climb to 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) 6 minutes 40 seconds

formed by the well-known Airla vintage aircraft restoration company at

Langenthal-Bleienbach aerodrome
in northwestern Switzerland, the
work performed by Max Brugger. To
comply with Swiss general aviation
regulations, some modern avionics
including a radio, transponder, and
an ELT were installed in the wooden
dashboard in the cockpit.
With all parts overhauled and reinstalled, the aircraft was transported
by car to Langenthal for its first
flight and airworthiness validation
by Gerhard Staude, owner of Airla,
and officially licensed by the Swiss
Bundesamt fur Zivilluftfahrtl (BAZL)
(i.e., Civil Aviation Authority) to deliver the much desired certificate of
airworthiness. Pending its first flight
since its restoration, various taxi tests
and aborted takeoff runs were made
to check the various characteristics
and performances of the engine. Finally on September 9, 2009, Praga
E.114M Air Baby HB-UAF made its
second very successful and emotional maiden flight. With no flying
manuals available, operating this Air
Baby proved to be an on the job
effort. The excellent gliding characteristics of the aircraft immediately
became apparent, forcing Andre to
adjust its landing techniques since
the aircraft has no external slats or
any kind of air brakes. Nowadays
this pristine and unique vintage aircraft is based at Flugplatz Reichenbach (LSGR), located in the Swiss
region of Berner Oberland and close
to some of the countrys most stunning flying areas.

18 MARCH 2012

Vintage March 2012.indd 20

3/2/12 9:08 AM

Drive one.

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Vintage March 2012.indd 21

3/2/12 9:09 AM

Light Plane Heritage

published in EAA Experimenter March 1993




EAA 1235

At any gathering of sport planes,

one is likely to see at least a few
monoplanes of the parasol type.
Old-timers will have seen so many
of them that theyre likely to take
them quite for granted. And newcomers often have such scant
knowledge of aviations long and involved history that to them a Loehle
Parasol or Baby Ace is likely to be
just another of a thoroughly bewildering array of flying machines.
Actually, theres much of interest and use that can be said about
parasols. But before we explore this
subject, a few words of wisdom. As
the years go by, more and more of
the people active in sport aviation
were born during or after World

War II. The many informative books

and magazines published between
around 1920 and 1940 are becoming
increasingly hard for them to locate
because both public and technical
school libraries tend to discard or
store away older literature to make
room for new acquisitions. But since
the older literature deals with aircraft in the performance range today associated with sport flying,
much useful knowledge is today,
regrettably, out of reach of more
and more enthusiasts. [Although,
happily, much of this knowledge is
being republished on the Internet; for
instance, the entire archive of the British periodical Flight is now online at Click on the

Historic link in the menu at the top

of the web page.HGF]
My own collection of literature
goes back to the 1930s, and I refer
to it often when writing. Also, I live
within an hours drive of the aeronautics library at MIT in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. When starting work
on this article I spent hours there
leafing through such books as Janes
All the Worlds Aircraft going back
to 1909, the U.S. Civil Aircraft Se-

Figure 1 Above Parasols have been

around for a long time. Far man in
France built this one in 1910. The ultimate in visibility! For some obscur e
reason the Gnome r otar y engine was
mounted ahead of the pr opeller.

Editors Note: The Light Plane Heritage series in EAAs 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 MARCH 2012

Vintage March 2012.indd 22

3/2/12 9:09 AM

Figure 2As shown by this Albatr os of 1914, militar y men quickly r ealized their superior downwar d visibility made parasol monoplanes ideal for
reconnaissance work. Rotar y engines belched a cloud of castor oil smoke
upon being star ted.
ries by Joseph P. Juptner, and the
Aircraft Yearbooks by the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce. I was
quite surprised at the large number
of parasol types I found pictured
and described in these old books.
While many were obscure types, all
were interesting to study with the
question in mind, Why did the designer do what he did?
A parasol monoplane is one on
which the wing is mounted above
and more or less clear of the fuselage. The word is derived from the
Italian parare, meaning to ward
off, and sole, meaning sun. A
ladys parasol wards off the sun.
Because a wing above the fuselage
wards off the sun, the French seem
to have been the first to apply the
word parasol to airplanes. Fig. 1
shows a parasol monoplane built
by Henri Farman in 1910. He was
famous for his biplanesperhaps
he cobbled up this parasol to learn
something about the characteristics
of monoplanes. Most monoplanes
of that time had their wings attached to the top longerons of their
fuselages, so presumably the word
parasol was adopted to describe
this new arrangement.
When World War I began, airplanes were at first used only for reconnaissance flights. The thin wing
airfoils then in use obliged the use
of shallow and therefore quite flexible wing spars, so biplane and mid-

wing configurations were popular

because these arrangements lent
themselves to effectively arranging
the many rigging wires needed to
achieve structural rigidity.

While many were

obscure types,
all were
interesting to
study with
the question
in mind,
Why did the
designer do
what he did?
But such planes soon showed
themselves to have unacceptably
poor downward visibility for military observation work. Pusher-type
biplanes were tried, with observers
riding in the front cockpits of their
nacelles to get good downward vision. But objects falling or blowing
out of open cockpits could fly back
into pusher propellers, and in the fre-

quent crashes of those days, pusher

engines could tear loose and fly forward onto unfortunate airmen.
Parasol monoplanes provided
the answer. Fig. 2 shows a Germandesigned, Austrian-built Albatros of
1914. The good downward visibility
is obvious. Note also the many brace
wires. Bleriot and Morane Saulnier
in France brought out similar-looking
designs, and two-seaters from the
latter company were used by the
French throughout that war.
As the outcome of several incidents of the wings of wire-braced
monoplanes collapsing under the
strain of combat flight, other countries such as Britain stayed with the
more rigidly trussed biplanes. Seeking more speed from available engines, late in the war the Germans
developed monoplane fighters such
as the Junkers and Fokker Triplanes.
The latter had its cantilever wing
mounted parasol-fashion above the
fuselage to put it out of the way of
aiming forward-firing machine guns.
As the result of aerodynamic research begun during that war and
carried on into the 1920s, thicker
airfoils came into general use. These
allowed the use of deeper wing spars,
so multiple brace wires below and
above parasol wings gave way to
simpler, cleaner wing struts running
from fuselage lower longerons out to
fittings on the undersides of wings.
Strut-braced low-wing monoplanes were also built but had disadvantages. Struts running from top
longerons to fittings on the upper
surfaces of wings disturbed airflow
and hurt wings lifting qualities.
Some low wings had struts running
from awkward-looking landing gear
trusses to fittings on the lower surfaces of wings. Sometimes this arrangement brought a planes center
of drag so far below the propeller
thrust line as to bring on trim or
longitudinal stability problems.
Browsing through Janes volumes
from about l920 to 1940 reveals a
surprising number of both military
and civilian parasol types. Some
were handsome and others homely.
Practically every European manu-


Vintage March 2012.indd 23

3/2/12 9:10 AM

Figure 3Ther e are many variations on the parasol theme. High-wing Lockheed V ega, lower left, was r evised to
parasol, upper left, to suit an airlines needs. Exter nally the English Comper Swift, above, looked like a high-wing
but str ucturally was a parasol. Its layout facilitated cockpit access. Small engine on long nose balanced pilots
weight aft of the wing.
facturer built military observation
and fighter planes of this type because of good visibility and simple,
sturdy construction. When twin
machine guns were mounted in fuselages, it was necessary to use interrupter mechanisms to halt their
firing when propeller blades passed
in front of the guns. Some 1920s
parasol fighters moved the guns
outboard to where struts met the
undersides of their wings. Fairings
enclosed the guns and at the same
time cleaned up the airflow where
struts met the wings. This allowed
uninterrupted and therefore more
deadly gun firing.
The more designers studied parasols, the more advantages they discovered. As originally produced,
the sleek 1927 Lockheed Vega, Fig.
3, was a high-wing cabin monoplane. Western Air Express liked
its speed but found things to complain about. The cantilever wings
deep spars intruded into cabin

headroom. Because of its shape,

the single pilots seat up forward
intruded into cargo space at the forward end of the cabin. Pilots felt
it would be hard to get out of the
enclosed cabin should they have to
take to their parachutes. In a crash,
the cargo would come flying forward onto them.
Lockheed engineers realized the
Vegas wooden wing and fuselage
could easily enough be revised to
create the parasol Air Express. Raising the wing clear of the fuselage
got its deep spars out of the cabin
headspace. Cargo area was increased
at the front end of the cabin. Probably lift was increased by separating
the underside of the wings central
portion from the fuselage, thus increasing the amount of working
wing area. Accustomed to opencockpit biplanes, pilots had no trouble with poor forward visibility in
the rearward-located open cockpit.
They could bail out of it much eas-

ier and faster. Their weight so far aft

balanced the extra 200 pounds of
the 425-hp Pratt & Whitney engine
that replaced the original Vegas
220-hp Wright Whirlwind. When a
mixed load was to be carried, cargo
could be loaded into the front of
the cabin with passengers behind
it, affording them the best possible
safety in a crash.
This mention of the Air Express
brings out the point that the parasol configuration lends itself to the
simple and clean installation of
one-piece wings, either strut-braced
as in the Pietenpol, Fig. 7, or cantilever as on the Potez 60, Fig. 19.
Such long wings can be awkward
in a homebuilders basement shop,
but in factory-built planes save the
weight and cost of center section
fittings. Cutouts in the top or bottom of a fuselage are not needed.
Because the weight of the fuselage, engine, occupants, and landing gear are all well below a parasol

Figure 4The r elationship between center of lift and center of gravity dif fers as between parasol and low-wing
monoplanes, and as between level and steep-climbing ight. This signi cantly af fects longitudinal stability .
22 MARCH 2012

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wing, what is called pendulum stability is good. Looking at a parasol

monoplane from ahead or behind,
its easy to visualize how all this
weight below the wing will act to
restore an upset plane to level attitude. But its easy to place more
importance on this than is justified.
If it has been well-designed and its
pilot is normally alert, a low-wing
plane will not suddenly roll over
However, its not as well-known
as it deserves to be that parasols are
very good in regard to longitudinal
stability. That is valuable in respect
to behavior in steep climbs, stalls,
and turbulent air. In Fig. 4A, note
the relationship between the center of gravity (CG) and the center
of lift (CL) in this parasol in level
flight. It is standard practice to position the center of gravity ahead
of the center of lift and to balance
a plane with a download on the
stabilizer. An appreciable nosing
down-force, D, is then present.
When the engine is throttled or
quits, the plane will automatically
nose down and begin to glide. In
this drawing, the center of gravitys
forward position has been exaggerated in the interests of clarity.
As this parasol noses up, Fig. 4B,
the wing sort of rotates backward.
This shifts the center of lift backward, too, and the force D becomes
stronger. More backward stick force
is needed to hold the nose up,
which is a desirable characteristic.
In level fl ight, a low-wing as in
Fig. 4C has about the same force
arrangement. But when it noses
up, due to its lower position the
CL does not rotate aft and so the
nosing-down force D in Fig. 4D
is therefore considerably less. In
many airfoils the CL moves forward as angle of attack increases,
so in some cases the force D can be
significantly reduced. Stick force
and stall behavior can be adversely
affected. Before designers learned
how to deal with this problem,
the CL in some low-wings could
move ahead of the CG, causing a
plane to become so suddenly and

Figure 5Parasols can be ver y handsome, as shown by this Menascopowered Fairchild 22 of the early 1930s.

Figure 6The Ross parasol was not handsome! High-set wing and low-set
fuselage facilitated cockpit entr y and exit.


Vintage March 2012.indd 25

3/2/12 11:09 AM

Figure 7Fr ont pits of some ships such as the Pietenpol r

by-step cockpit entr y/exit technique.

Figure 8This 1934 Czechoslovakian Letov solved the entr

putting the fr ont cockpit ahead of the wing.

equire a step-

y problem by

Figure 9Double-taper ed wing on 1929 Davis helped fr ont cockpit accessibility. Note wide, stable landing gear .

puzzlingly tail-heavy as to make it

rotate backward into inverted position. This was called catastrophic
instability. When this appeared
while flying at low altitude, the result was indeed catastrophic.
Because of this lessened nosingdown tendency with increasing
angle of attack, low-wings can be
sensitive to load distribution, how
fuel happens to slosh back in tanks
when climbing steeply, airfoil center of lift travel, amount of wing
dihedral (which affects the vertical location of the center of lift),
position and weight of the landing
gear, and so on. Ride or feel in
turbulent air can be jiggly. Increasing lightness of rearward stick
force when approaching the stall
can be a warning that a low-wing
is approaching catastrophic instability. Now you understand clearly
why we have aeronautical engineers and test pilots.
After World War I, some designers
looked for ways to improve the performance of cheap, surplus Curtiss
Jennys. Its often easy to rebuild a biplane into a parasol monoplane. The
center section cabane strut fittings
are already in place, and fittings
where lower wing spars attached
to the fuselage can be reworked
if necessary to accept parasol lift
strut ends. Thick-airfoil monoplane
wings installed on Jenny fuselages
resulted in worthwhile performance
improvement and called the parasol
design to the attention of the American aviation community.
While surplus Jennys were cheap
to buy, they were large and complicated airplanes and thus costly
to recondition after some years of
service. Commercial fliers could
include such expenses in the rates
they charged customers, but private
owners often continued to fly decrepit Jennys until they crashed.
In 1927 and 1928 there appeared
on the American scene 55 to 60
hp Air Cat, Velie, and LeBlond
fi ve-cylinder, air-cooled radial engines. To provide smaller, simpler,
and more economical airframes to
take these engines, some design-

24 MARCH 2012

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Figure 10Smaller radial engines of 33-36 inch diameter led to wide fuselage, side-by-side seating in 1929 Inland Spor t.

Figure 11Parasols, such as this 1929 English W

adaptable to folding wings.

estland Widgeon, ar e

Figure 12Clar ence Chamberlins air school built this Kinner-power ed

parasol training plane.

ers brought out neat parasols such

as the Davis, Fig. 9, and the Inland
Sport, Fig. 10. Open cockpits were
then still much in favor, and many
designers were still wary of lowwings. These monoplanes needed
substantially fewer wing spars/wingtip bows and ribs than did biplanes.
The depression that followed
the stock market crash of 1929
increased designers interest in
monoplanes, including parasols.
Some outcomes of this were the
very handsome Fairchild 22, Fig.
5, for affluent buyers and the lowpriced American Eaglet, Fig. 13,
Taylor Cub, Fig. 14, and others for
less well-heeled customers.
To coax acceptable climb from
low-powered airplanes, its important to reduce drag. Open-cockpit
parasols like the Eaglet and Cub
could be fitted with detachable
cockpit enclosures, which helped.
And, by making cold-weather flying more bearable, these accessories
boosted small airports income by
encouraging wintertime instruction and rentals. Merely by raising
the light superstructure atop fuselages, some of these ships could
easily be changed into high-wing
cabin jobs.
In some cases its possible to
argue at length as to whether a
particular ship is a parasol or highwing cabin plane. The English
Comper Swift, Fig. 3, and Corben
Super Ace, Fig. 15, are examples.
In some planes such as the Fordengined Pietenpol, Fig. 7, and the
Cirrus-engined Westland Widgeon,
Fig. 11, the carburetors were positioned so high that in order to obtain dependable gravity fuel feed,
fuel tanks were mounted in the
parasol wings. This weight added
to that of the high-mounted wings
could raise the center of gravity so
high as to aggravate the tendency
to lean over in crosswind landings
and fast taxiing turns.
Therefore, wide landing gears
were favored. The outrigger type
on the Fairchild 22 and the Inland
Sport afforded wide wheel spacing
while retaining acceptable load-


Vintage March 2012.indd 27

3/2/12 9:11 AM

Figure 13Open American Eaglet could be winterized

with detachable, transpar ent side and r ear panels.

Figure 14Open Cub E-2 and F-2 (shown) could be enclosed same way. Raising the fuselage top fairing cr eated
cabin J-2 and J-3.

Figure 15Cowling to t Ford A engine on Corben

Super Ace was extended aft to enclose str uts that suppor ted center of wing.

Figure 16Ger man school-built A.B. 4 car ried wing on

a pylon. V-bottom wood fuselage had ve longer ons;
20-hp Mercedes power ed the air craft.

Figure 17Sweptback wing of 1960s Kaminskas

aerobatic of fered cockpit access and r etained pr oper
center of lift location.

Figure 18Polish S-4 Kania; 125-hp radial engine had

great rear view mir ror visibility for glider towing.

Figure 19One-piece wings ar e easily attached to parasols such as this Fr ench Potez 60 of the mid-1930s.

Figure 20Fr ench Bour gois fuselage had thr ee longerons; note the str ut position. Bulkheads and wood
veneer for med the covering.

26 MARCH 2012

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carrying angles for the various

struts. In some parasols such as the
smallish Pietenpol, the vertical space
between fuselage top and the lower
surface of the wing was just scant
enough to make front cockpit entry
and exit a problem. Pilots instructed
passengers in a well-thought-out entry and exit procedure. Glued woodto-wood joints are not as strong as
are welded ones in steel tubing, and
a fuselage is basically a beam that
carries engine weight in the front
and elevator up-and-down loads at
the rear end. To avoid discontinuity
in a wooden top longeron caused by
a cockpit door cutout, designer B.H.
Pietenpol did not incorporate a door
in his Air Campers fuselage. Large
people or ones having arthritic
knees sometimes could not get into
a Piet. But the welded steel tube construction popular in the fuselages
of factory-made parasols made the
incorporation of door openings a
simple matter.
Some parasols had their wings
mounted as high as their designers
dared, such as on the Ross RS-1, Fig.
6, to facilitate entry and exit. But
this could bring on a tendency to
tip easily in crosswind landings. In
those days flying was often done
out of farm fields, which allowed
taking off and landing into the
wind all the time. But the highwinged, narrow-geared Ross could
be a problem on a modern airstrip
during crosswind conditions.
The Czech Letov, Fig. 8, had another approach to front cockpit
accessthis cockpit was located
ahead of the wing. It worked, but
put pilot and passenger unhappily far apart. A more common
approach to the cockpit access
problem was to incorporate a cutout in the wings trailing edge. This
could be a modest one as on the
Fairchild 22, or a large one as on
the S-4 Kania, Fig 18. Such a large
cutout can impair a wings aerodynamic efficiency, but seemed acceptable in this glider tug that did
mostly local flying. A rearview mirror positioned in the cutout gave
a superb view of a towed glider. A

few Pietenpols had hinged flaps in

the trailing edges of their wings.
These helped cockpit access yet
retained unbroken trailing edge
shape in flight.
The 1929 Davis had a doubletapered wing employing box spars
that were deepest at the point of
wing V-strut attachment and tapered both toward the tips and the
center section as yet another way
of improving cockpit access. This
design also kept the struts short so
as to make them stiff and comparatively light, and also to reduce drag.
Yet another cockpit access solution was to use swept-back wings
as in the Kaminskas aerobatic parasol, Fig. 17. This puts the center
section ahead of the cockpit, while
the sweepback positions the wings
center of lift where it has to be for
proper aircraft balance in flight.
Many military parasols used this
configuration to keep the center section ahead of tandem cockpits to facilitate quick exit should it become

necessary to take to parachutes.

French air show pilots favored
Morane Saulnier and Dewoitine
parasols for yet another reason.
When going upward at the beginning of a loop, one sees only empty
sky in front of the planes nose.
Then as one goes over the top and
starts down, the center section of a
parasol (or biplane) facilitates judging attitude in relation to the upside-down horizon.
We could say many more things
and print twice as many photos, if
space permitted. But what weve
been able to cram into the available space should be enough to
help you to learn how to understand and evaluate parasol monoplanes. The type is very old, but
will be with us for a long time to
come because of its versatility and
adaptability to various sport flying
requirements. Why, when rainstorms disrupt activities at fly-ins,
people even scurry to get under the
wings of parasol monoplanes!

1903: Samuel Pierpont Langleys Aerodrome

attempts to take off from a floating platform.

Langley may have been the

father of carrier aviation, but
even Poly-Fiber fabric couldnt
have made this work. Good
ideas tend to stick aro u n d ,
though. Hey! We named our
first carrier after him.

last and last. The instruction

manual is very clear and fun
to read. Its easier than falling
off a... well, you know.


Poly-Fiber has stuck around,

too, about forty years worth.
With Poly-Fiber youll get a
beautiful covering job thatll

Vintage March 2012.indd 29

3/2/12 9:11 AM




Wood defects: Compression failure,

shakes, checks, longitudinal cracks
Defects in wood structures are critical, and inspection techniques must be developed to locate and identify these structural problems. This data is important to
new mechanics who may not be familiar with inspecting wood structures, particularly wood wing spars.
This is important when inspecting wood spars in
Aeronca, Bellanca, and Champion aircraft. FAA Airworthiness Directive 2000-25-02 R1 in particular requires close inspection of wood wing spars installed in
Aeronca 7 and 11 series aircraft and Bellanca Citabria
acrobatic aircraft.
One would think that a 65-hp Aeronca Champ or
Chief would not experience compression failures in
wing spars, but I have seen this defect and feel it is important to expand on the airworthiness directive because compression failures are difficult to locate, and
in the case of the Champ and Chief, are often mostly
hidden because they will form under a wing rib that is
nailed to the spar at a critical location.
American Champion Service Bulletin 406 Revision
A gives detailed information on the subject. These
compression failures can happen if the aircraft ground
loops and the wingtip strikes the ground, or they can
be caused by over-stressing the spar when pulling
some gs performing spins or other semi-aerobatic or
aerobatic maneuvers.
A compression failure is defined as a break across
grain lines of the wood caused by very high compressive
forces placed on the spar, normally from a high positive
g-load on the outer portion of a wing that is unbraced.
An old publication issued in 1943 by the Army-Navy
Civil Committee on aircraft design criteria and identified as ANC-19 was the bible for mechanics that inspect,
maintain, and repair wood structures. Its data should be
a regular reference for modern-day mechanics who work
with these structures. All the data that is contained in
FAA AC43.13-1B is extracted from this reference source.
Illustration 1 is a photo of a compression failure
in Sitka spruce; this photo shows the failure almost
completely across the entire board. You wont find
anything like this in aircraft unless a very bad acci-

dent occurred. This type damage may have happened

when the tree was cut and it fell across another tree or
a large rock, which fractured the entire log. In-service
compression failures will normally appear on the top
flange of the spar, and in the case of Aeronca and Bellanca spars, directly adjacent to a plywood plate installed at the front and rear strut attachment point.
Read on . . .

Illustration 1: Major compression failure in Sitka spruce.

To understand the stress forces carried by a wing
spar one must know that the upper third and lower
third of the spar width carries all flight loads, with the
center third of the spar width in a neutral plane. When
the wing is positively loaded (positive g), the upper
spar flange carries a compression load and the lower

28 MARCH 2012

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spar flange carries a tension load. Therefore, any crack

across the grain lines can be dangerous, and if not detected, it can lead to complete failure.
Illustrations 2-4 are three photos that show a compression failure I found on a Bellanca 7ACA. Illustration 2 is the back side of the front spar. The bright
wood to the left of the photo is where a plywood reinforcement plate was glued to add strength where the
front lift strut attaches. To the right of the photo is outboard of the plate and the typical spot where a compression failure will form.
The lines are made with a pen to highlight the defect. There are some interesting items to observe here.
First the crack goes into the upper nail hole that holds
the aluminum rib to the spar. The failure is under the
wing rib and therefore impossible to visually locate.
The failure is about 25-30 percent of the spar width.
That is almost a total failure of the upper spar flange.

It will be necessary to remove a small segment of

aluminum leading edge to gain complete access to this
area. In this view it is very evident as to the definition of a compression failurea jagged crack across the
grain fibers.
Illustration 4 shows the compression failure on
the front side of the spar that has progressed to 1520 percent of spar width. I took these photos after
the spar was removed from the wing in preparation
to installing a newly fabricated front wing spar. The
bright wood to the right was where a plywood plate
was glued to support loads at the front lift strut
attach point. To the left of the photo is outboard
to the wingtip. There are two parallel pencil lines
to allow proper positioning of the wing rib before
nailing to the spar. Again, note that the failure is
under the rib.

Illustration 2: Bellanca 7ACA, back side of the front spar.

Illustration 4: Compression failure on the front side of the spar.

Illustration 3 shows the view looking down on the

top of the spar; the crack is clearly visible. This is the
only location to spot a compression failure at this location on the Aeronca and Bellanca series airplanes. The
American Champion Company states that an opening
should be cut into the fabric to inspect this area to facilitate complete inspection.

Illustration 5 shows two inspection openings on the

top of the front spar of my Champ wings covered in
Poly-Fiber through silver. These openings comply with
the recommendations in SB 406, Revision A. When the
wings are finished, aluminum covers will be screwed in
place and sealed with a soft rubber gasket so moisture
will not penetrate this critical area.

Illustration 5: Champ spar inspection opening.

Illustration 3: Looking down on the top of the spar.


Vintage March 2012.indd 31

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jor fittings such as lift struts and streamline wire attachment points. There are times when a shake that
begins at the end of a spar will progress outboard and
will exit the plywood doubler and form itself into a
longitudinal crack. AC43.13-1B states that most longitudinal cracks can be repaired by gluing on plywood
plates on both sides of the spar; however, to adequately
inspect the spar and glue on such plates, the wing has
to be uncovered, and most mechanics will opt to replace the entire spar or splice in a new section through
the damaged area.
This final illustration is interesting from the standpoint of visually inspecting damage. Look closely at
the photo in Illustration 7 and you will see two distinct
failure modes in wood. First, half of the thickness of
the spar has failed due to compressive forces, while the
other half has failed due to tension forces. How could
this happen, except in an accident? Well, back in 1970,
that is what happened to the pilot of a CallAir A-9 agricultural airplane. While spraying next to his house, he
decided to make a pass over the home to wave at his
wife. In a steep left turn, he put the wing into a large
tree in his front yard and tore off the outer 6 feet of the
front wing spar. He was able to fly back to his strip and
land safely, and I was called to make a repair without
removing the wing from the airplane.
Illustration 6: Typical wood defects.

When re-covering a set of Bellanca 7ECA wings, I

found a compression failure in the rear spar at the inboard aileron attach point. Unfortunately I do not
have a photo of that failure.
Shakes and checks are also on the critical inspection list. Shakes are identified as cracks. Shakes and
checks normally can be found at spar ends and are
due to moisture entering the wood and causing it to
swell. Spar ends are susceptible if the grain is not completely filled with varnishfilling the end grain normally takes additional coats of varnish because the
varnish will penetrate the grain structure and be drawn
into the wood fibers.
Shakes are defined as a longitudinal crack along
grain lines, occurring between two annual rings. Thus,
looking at a spar end, the opening will be horizontal in
the grain. There may be more than one shake in a spar
end. AC43.13-1B states that if shakes are visually detected, the spar should be spliced or replaced.
Checks are defined as cracks across the grain. Thus,
looking at a spar end the opening will be vertical and
may be parallel to the width of the spar. Below in Illustration 6 is a sketch of typical wood defects. In this
sketch, defect A is a shake, defect B is a check, defect C is
a longitudinal crack, and defect D is a compression failure.
Longitudinal cracks will appear anywhere moisture
can enter the internal structure, most generally at ma-

Illustration 7: Compression and tension failure in a spar.

30 MARCH 2012

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Vintage March 2012.indd 33

3/2/12 11:55 AM

Illustration 8: CallAir A-9 spar damage due to an accident.

A compression failure
is defined as a break
across grain lines of
the wood caused
by very high
compressive forces . . .

This photo shows the view looking directly into the

fracture of the front sparthere is a bolt-hole where a
compression member was attached, and half of the hole
is plainly visible. Note that the left side of the wood appears as if it were cut with a knifethat is the side that
failed under compression load. The right half of the spar
appears jagged with the fibers pulled apart. That is where
the spar failed under tension load. What did the airplane
look like you ask? Illustration 8 shows the aircraft and the
damaged left wing.
When I first saw the wing I wondered where the rest
of the front spar was located and was told it was probably still in the top of the tree. Removing the wing
just to make a spar repair was a big job, so I decided
to splice the spar while it was still attached to the airframe. So how did that go? Ill tell you all about it in
next months column.

32 MARCH 2012

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3/2/12 9:13 AM



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Vintage March 2012.indd 35

3/2/12 9:44 AM


BY Steve Krog, CFI

A Proud Moment

oday was a great day for this old tailwheel flight instructor. One of my students took and passed her checkride and
is now a bona fide pilot. Now, that isnt a
big deal nor different from most anyone
else receiving a pilots license. But this
one was special to me.
About 18 months ago she and her husband came
to me. He was already a pilot, and up until this day she
was a very good navigator/
passenger. But on this day
she wanted to begin taking
fl ight lessons. I thought this
wasnt anything unusual;
over the years Ive worked
with a number of spouses
who wanted to learn to fly.
In this case, however,
the situation was a bit more
challenging. This couple had
previously restored an airplane together, he doing the
structural work and she doing the fabric. Together they
flew it all around the area,
proudly showing the plane.
Then together they began
another aircraft restoration.
As it began nearing completion, she made a comment
one evening that she might
like to learn to fly, allowing them to each fly a plane
to the area fly-ins. Her husband was quite taken
aback by the comment. She had always been a good
passenger but was near petrified whenever asked to
take the controls.
When they came to me that first day we discussed
both her desire as well as her fear. Her husband, very
supportive, didnt want to push too hard for fear
of dampening her enthusiasm. I explained that we
would take it very slow, and if at any time she felt

uncomfortable with whatever we were doing, she

was to tell me so.
The first lesson began with a 30-minute session
taxiing a tailwheel airplane around the ramp area
and then out to the runway, learning the S-turn
method of taxiing while doing so. Quite tentative at
fi rst, she soon acquired the feel for the airplane, at
least on the ground, and relaxed somewhat.
The first step of confidencebuilding now accomplished,
we aligned the airplane with
the turf runway in preparation
for the takeoff. While explaining the control stick position
and movement, I could feel
her tension building. Her grip
on the Cubs control stick was
like a vise. To break the tension I told her I could take her
pulse simply by placing a fi nger on top of my control stick.
She laughed and relaxed, but
only just a bit.
Throughout the late summer
and early fall we flew weekly.
Each new maneuver was a
challenge, not because it was
difficult for her to master but
rather because of her anxiety.
Each flight required constant
reminders to relax and learn to
feel the airplane.
It was then that I came to realize part of her anxiety was brought on by her desire to be a perfectionist. She would strive to do everything perfectly,
and when a maneuver was less than so, the anxiety
would build. It has been said by seasoned pilots
that flying is a constant learning experience. This
thought really hit me between the eyes and caused
me to change my teaching technique with her.
Thereafter, we discussed every maneuver before
flight, initially setting loose guidelines for each.

She had always

been a good

passenger but

was near petrified

whenever asked to
take the controls.

34 MARCH 2012

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For example, I would ask her to demonstrate a

steep 360-degree turn to the right or left keeping
the altitude within plus or minus 200 feet. Once
that was accomplished we would tighten the parameters to 100 feet, then 50 feet, and finally 20
feet. Using this method, she learned to relax a bit
more, yet she strived for perfection with less selfinduced pressure.
When the cold weather and snow finally arrived, we
decided to put further training on hold until spring.
Spring 2011 arrived, and we resumed our flight
training. It was now time to work in the traffic pattern in preparation for solo. Lack of self-confidence
again surfaced, but with encouragement and regular
reminders to relax, progress was made. Finally, it
was time for me to get out of the Cub and turn her
loose for three takeoffs and landings. She argued at
first that she wasnt ready, but I convinced her that
she was. Each of the three takeoffs and landings were
near perfect.
When she taxied back to the hangar following
that fi rst solo, the grin on her face was spectacular!
She had transformed from someone afraid of touching the controls to being able to safely and confidently fly the airplane solo! What a milestone. After
the traditional cutting of the shirttail, I asked how
she felt, and she responded by telling me that her
butt cheeks were so tight, she thought the seat cushion was still there!
Crosswind takeoffs and landings were next on
the agenda, and these came to her almost naturally.
Within two hours she had mastered the technique
and was ready for the dual and solo cross-country
phase. At this point I strongly pushed for getting
her written test taken. She had been procrastinating,
thinking that she wasnt ready to take and pass the
exam. I set a deadline of the next Friday. If she didnt
have the test taken by then, we would postpone the
planned dual and solo cross-country flights.
Pressure now dutifully applied, she accepted the
challenge. Ive found over the years that setting
deadlines helps students move forward. She called
me on that Friday afternoon and in an excited voice
explained that she had achieved a 90 percent on the
written test. The cross-country training was again
back on the flight schedule.
Having spent a good many hours navigating for
her husband, the cross-country phase of flight training was completed in record time. Over the course
of three or four days, all dual and solo cross-country
flights were completed.
At this point it was time to prep for the checkride,
and we scheduled fl ights for each of the next three
weekends. Every maneuver was perfect or very near
perfect. It didnt make any difference if it was a steep
turn, a power-on stall, or a 50-foot obstacle shortfield landing. She had everything nailed. It was time

to schedule the checkride for the following Saturday.

I spoke with her several times during the week
preceding the flight test. Each time it was to bolster
her courage and confidence. Nervous, yes, but she
was prepared. Finally, checkride day was here, and
I think she arrived at the hangar at 5 a.m. for the 9
a.m. appointment. For several hours she paced the
hangar, reviewing everything in her mind. The perfectionist in her rose to the surface once again.
Once the designated examiner arrived and the
oral portion of the checkride began, she relaxed a
bit. The examiner quite understood and helped put
her at ease. The remainder of the checkride went
without a flaw, and the examiner commented so.
Finally, with the new piece of paper in hand
proclaiming she was a real pilot, she fi nally began to unwind, but not without a lot of kidding
and congratulations.
Ive been providing flight instruction for 40 years
and have worked with a number of students, but this
student and her accomplishments were very special
to me. With great pleasure I watched her transform
from a position of timidity and anxiety to one of
self-confidence and achievement.
It proves that anyone with a real desire can overcome most any obstacle, learn to fly, and enjoy the
pleasure of flying!

Scan this QR code with your smartphone
or tablet device to view our complete line


Vintage March 2012.indd 37

3/2/12 9:14 AM


This months Mystery Plane comes to us from the EAA archives;
its part of our Cedric Galloway collection.

Send your answer to EAA, Vintage Airplane, P.O. Box

3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903-3086. Your answer needs to
be in no later than April 10 for inclusion in the June
2012 issue of Vintage Airplane.
You can also send your response via e-mail.

Send your answer to myster

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.


Our December Mystery Plane came
to us from Wes Smith, Springfield, Illinois. It was of North American origin.
Heres our first answer:
The December 2011 Mystery Plane
appears to be the one and only McVean
Valkyr V-3 (CF-AQA). The photo may
have been taken at an air field near
Hamilton, Ontario.
The story of this little-known airplane began in the late 20s with Hayes
Wheels and Forgings of Chatham, Ontario. At the time, the company was
not doing too well. Buggies, buggy
wheels, and other wooden products
for the carriage industry were a thing
of the past, and the automobile indus36 MARCH 2012

Vintage March 2012.indd 38

3/2/12 9:14 AM

try was gradually replacing woodenspoked wheels with pressed-steel

wheels. In order to survive, Hayes
Wheels and Forgings needed to develop new products.
It so happens that both the c ompanys general manager and chief engineer, William Kistler and Norman A.
Thompson, were aviation enthusiasts.
Kistler, who seemingly never soloed
despite many hours of training, owned
an airplane, an Arrow A-2 Sport twoseat light biplane. Thompson, who had
flown with the Royal Flying Corps and
Royal Air Force during the Great War,
owned a Lincoln Page LP-3 light biplane
as well as a private airfield and hangar
near Chatham. One day, the LP-3 was
seriously damaged in a crash caused
by a frozen fuel line. Eager to fly again,
Thompson took the welded steel tube
fuselage to a local automobile mechanic
and talented welder, Philip Alexander.
Putting the Lincoln Page back into flying
condition proved relatively easy, which
got both men thinking. If money could
be found, it should not be too complicated to design and build an airplane
from scratch. Kistler readily agreed to finance the project. Here, he thought, was
a new type of product that could restore
the fortunes of Hayes Wheels and Forgings. The airplane would be produced by
a subsidiary, a manufacturer of wooden
wheel hubs and spokes, W. & O. McVean
of Dresden, Ontario.
(The McVean family had arrived in
Dresden around 1870, and it dominated the local business community
for almost half a century. Its patriarch,
Alexander McVean, was a close friend
of Canadas first prime minister, Sir
John A. MacDonald. Two of his sons,
William and Osgood McVean, eventually took over his company, which became W. & O. McVean.)
The airplane designed by Thompson was a conventional biplane with
side-by-side seating, somewhat similar in concept to the Arrow A-2 Sport.
Known as the McVean Valkyr V-2, this
two-seat light airplane/basic trainer
was designed to fulfill the needs of private pilots and flying clubs. It flew for
the first time on May 4, 1930. Thompson was at the c ontrols. Although

somewhat heavier than planned, the

Valkyr V-2 proved remarkably successful and easy to fly. Sadly, no one
showed much interest in the new design. Airplanes like the de Havilland
Moth, the Avro Avian, and the CurtissReid Rambler were already flying in
Canada in some numbers. Registered
with some difficulty as C F-AKP on
May 14, 1930, by O. & W. McVean, the
Valkyr V-2 was sold to Alexander in
October 1933. Its pilot throughout the
1930s was Ernest H. Taylor, a young
aviation enthusiast who had drawn
many of the fittings and components
of the airplane. Grounded following
the outbreak of the Second World War,
CF-AKP was destroyed by a hangar fire
in 1940 (some sources say 1946).

Putting the Lincoln

Page back into flying
condition proved
relatively easy, which
got both men
thinking. If money
could be found, it
should not be too
complicated to design
and build an airplane
from scratch.
Design of another airplane began
soon after the first flight of the Valkyr
V-2. Larger, heavier, more powerful,
and better equipped than its predecessor, the Valkyr V-3 was a three-seater
(two side-by-side seats at the front
and a single seat further back). This
configuration had proven very popular
with U.S. airplane makers. One only
needs to think about classic designs
like the Travel Air 2000 or the Waco
10. This being said, it looks as if Kistler and Thompson planned to offer
a tandem two-seat training version
to the Royal Canadian Air Force. Kistler, however, left Hayes Wheels and
Forgings in the fall of 1930, while the
Valkyr V-3 was still under construction. As the economic situation grew
from bad to worse, the management
of the company reluctantly termi-

nated the project. Convinced that the

new airplane had potential, Thompson, Taylor, and Alexander asked that
the uncompleted airframe be turned
over to them. This was soon done, and
construction started anew at Thompsons airfield, near Chatham.
The Valkyr V-3 was registered as CFAQA on February 19, 1931, again with
some difficulty, by O. & W. McVean.
Thompson test flew the orange and
brown biplane around Easter. He quickly
realized that the airplanes flying characteristics were not as good as those of
its predecessor. Enlarging the rudder
helped, but did not solve ever ything.
Rumor has it that the Valkyr V-3 would
go into a steep dive after being stalled.
Worse still, control could only be regained after a considerable loss of height.
In September 1931, both Valkyrs
took part in a 450-mile air rally, the
Tip Top Aerial Derby, sponsored by
Tip Top Tailors of Toronto, Ontario.
More than 20 air planes, including
both Valkyrs, completed this race. The
Valkyr V-2 actually came in third.
As the economic depression deepened, Hayes Wheels and Forgings


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Vintage March 2012.indd 39

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S o m e t h i n g t o b u y,
sell, or trade?
Classi ed Word Ads: $5.50 per 10 wor ds,
180 words maximum, with boldface lead-in
on rst line.
Classi ed Display Ads: One column wide
(2.167 inches) by 1, 2, or 3 inches high at
$20 per inch. Black and white only , and no
frequency discounts.
Adver tising Closing Dates: 10th of second
month prior to desir ed issue date (i.e., Januar y
10 is the closing date for the Mar ch issue). V AA
reser ves the right to r eject any adver tising in
conict with its policies. Rates cover one inser tion
per issue. Classified ads ar e not accepted via
phone. Payment must accompany or der. Word
ads may be sent via fax (920-426-4828) or e-mail
( using cr edit card payment
(all cards accepted). Include name on car d,
complete address, type of car d, card number,
and expiration date. Make checks payable to
EAA. Address advertising correspondence to EAA
Publications Classified Ad Manager , P.O. Box
3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903-3086.


1943 STEARMAN, LIVE AUCTION, Unrestored,

unmodified. PT17, A75N1, N56292.
Cont-R670, SMOH=434, TT=1720, San
Jose, Calif., 3/31/2012, Reserve $23,000. (360)8357789.

MISCELLANEOUS, Aviations Leading


situation grew worse and worse. I t

eventually closed down all operations.
In May 1936, G.B. Stewart and C.W.
Burgess of Dixie, Ontario, submitted
but did not complete an application to
certify the airplane. M.J. Wilson of Chatham bought CF-AQA later that year
but did not complete the certification
procedure. Frank H. Armitage of Hamilton, Ontario, bought the Valkyr V-3
at a public auction in August 1936. The
following year, the 165-hp Continental A-70 engine suffered a midair failure. Armitage chose to replace it with
a 200/220-hp Wright J-5 engine. Tom
Senior of Brantford, Ontario, bought
CF-AQA, possibly in late 1937, and certified the airplane in January 1938. Before long, he realized the Valkyr V-3 was
in rather poor shape and decided to dispose of it. Over the next few months,
Senior apparently sold the airplane two
or three times, but the buyers soon returned itand presumably asked for
their money back.
Senior finally sold CF-AQA to R.M.
Armstrong who certified the airplane in
July 1939. This young miner and inexperienced pilot from the Levack mines
near Sudbury, Ontario, soon contacted
another pilot and experienced amateur
airplane builder by the name of L .A.
Hottie. Armstrong wanted to know if
Hottie could make the Valkyr V-3 airworthy again. He could indeed.

On November 6, 1939, the Valkyr

V-3 stalled while per forming some
low-level aerobatics near Larchwood,
Ontario. It spun into the ground. Armstrong and his passengers, G. Lennox
and F. Church, were killed instantly.
It is worth noting that Ernest H.
Taylor later worked for Victory Aircraft at Malton, near Toronto, during
the Second World War; he flight-tested
Avro Lancaster heavy bombers. Taylor
went on to become Canadian representative for the Dassault Fan Jet Falcon/Falcon 20 business jet.
Renald Fortier, Curator, Aviation History, Canada Aviation and Space Museum
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
One other correct answer was received from Warren Kelley of Clarkson, Ontario, Canada.
We enjoy your suggestions for Mystery Planein fact, more than half of
our subjects are sent to us by members, often via e-mail. Please remember that if you want to scan the photo
for use in Mystery Plane, it must be at
a resolution of 300 dpi or greater. You
may send a lower-resolution version
to us for our review, but the nal version has to be at that level of detail or
it will not print properly. Also, please
let us know where the photo came
from; we dont want to willfully violate someones copyright.


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Wacos, Moths, Champs, Lakes, Pitts etc.
Test flights and delivery. Indiana 480-2092680, www.

38 MARCH 2012

Vintage March 2012.indd 40

3/2/12 9:15 AM



Enjoy the many benets of the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association

Geoff Robison
1521 E. MacGregor Dr.
New Haven, IN 46774

Steve Nesse
2009 Highland Ave.
Albert Lea, MN 56007

George Daubner
N57W34837 Pondview Ln
Oconomowoc, WI 53066

Dan Knutson
106 Tena Marie Circle
Lodi, WI 53555


Steve Bender
85 Brush Hill Road
Sherborn, MA 01770

John S. Copeland
1A Deacon Street
Northborough, MA 01532

Espie Butch Joyce

6257 NC 704
Madison, NC 27025

David Bennett
375 Killdeer Ct
Lincoln, CA 95648

Phil Coulson
28415 Springbrook Dr.
Lawton, MI 49065

Steve Krog
1002 Heather Ln.
Hartford, WI 53027

Jerry Brown
4605 Hickory Wood Row
Greenwood, IN 46143

Dale A. Gustafson
7724 Shady Hills Dr.
Indianapolis, IN 46278

Robert D. Bob Lumley

1265 South 124th St.
Brookfield, WI 53005

Dave Clark
635 Vestal Lane
Plainfield, IN 46168

Jeannie Hill
P.O. Box 328
Harvard, IL 60033-0328

S.H. Wes Schmid

2359 Lefeber Avenue
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

Robert C. Brauer
9345 S. Hoyne
Chicago, IL 60643
Gene Chase
8555 S. Lewis Ave., #32
Tulsa, OK 74137

Ronald C. Fritz
15401 Sparta Ave.
Kent City, MI 49330

E.E. Buck Hilbert

8102 Leech Rd.
Union, IL 60180

Charles W. Harris
PO Box 470350
Tulsa, OK 74147

Gene Morris
5936 Steve Court
Roanoke, TX 76262


Joe Norris

PO Box 3086, Oshkosh WI 54903-3086

Phone (920) 426-4800

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Copyright 2012 by the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association,

All rights reserved.
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Vintage March 2012.indd 41

3/2/12 9:15 AM

I Fly With the Best

Wearing the airplane

o doubt about it
Im very privileged.
I am surrounded by
good pilots. I dont
mean ones who just
know the rules and can make an
airplane take off and land to FAA
proficiency standards. I mean
ones who know how to put the
airplane exactly where they want
it. They know how to wear the
airplane, so to speak.
They didnt get that way by
chance. Theyve developed their
abilities in untold hours in the
sky. Theyve hauled passengers
and freight, ferried airplanes,
dusted crops, and flown for a myriad of other reasonsthe primary
one for the sheer joy of flight.
They know how to read weather
and arent afraid to make no-go
decisions, and Im sure theyve
all been in the I shouldnt have


done that situation at some

point. Experience has taught
them well. I am fortunate to be in
their shadows.
Before taking flight lessons I
had been introduced to aviation
through good pilots. Throughout my training I was constantly
pushed toward proficiency and
better judgment. A baby pilot indeed, but with excellent examples
to follow.
These folks encouraged me and
shared their wisdom along the
way. A number of years later they
still do, and Im still learning. Its
a process that should be neverending. Its my responsibility to
pass that encouragement and
knowledge on as well.
One spring night I flew lead
in a loose formation over a Relay
for Life rally. On my left was a
Super Cub. On my right were a

Monocoupe and a C-172. Those

three aircraft were all flown by
pilots whose expertise makes my
experience a tiny drop in the
big aviation bucket. Privileged
I was, doing my best to do my
part smoothly so they could do
theirs safely.
Obviously formation flight requires trust, and whether they
trusted me I dont know, but I
knew I was in very good hands.
How thankful I am that Im
part of an aviation family whos
not afraid to associate with lessexperienced pilots, and looks out
for each other.
Big name aviators will come
and go. Most of them I will never
have contact with. Thats okay
with me. I am content to know
that in my part of the world I fl y
with the best. Who can ask for
more than that?

40 MARCH 2012

Vintage March 2012.indd 42

3/2/12 9:16 AM

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Vintage March 2012.indd 43

3/2/12 9:16 AM

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