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Jim Doyles

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Around the Pylons

Full circle Buhl
1927 Dole Air Derby
12/13/12 2:48 PM

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12/13/12 11:16 AM

Straight & Level

Vintage Airplane




2012-A year in review

EAA Publisher . . . . . . . . .Jack J. Pelton,

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chairman of the Board

Vice Pres., EAA Publications J. Mac McClellan

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our members!

The year of 2012 has proven to be a year of tough decisions for the
leadership of your VAA organization. Along with a very slow but certain
decline in membership and a tough economy, combined with rising fees
for operational issues and printing of the magazine, come many decisions critically relevant to the future financial health of our organization.
The age-old question immediately now comes to bear. Where do we best
invest our meager resources and be able to realize the best return on our
investments? This of course is currently heavy on my mind, having just
recently returned from Oshkosh after attending several days of meetings with the VAA and EAA board of directors. Actually, the discussion
of enhanced member benefits fits well with these currently challenging
financial times. For example, the cost benefit of publishing our Vintage
Airplane magazine on a bimonthly basis will prove to be a significant savings to the organization. As a result, the reinvestment of these types of
savings into member benefits becomes our desired route of travel. So,
what are we offering here?
1. Youre holding in your hands what I believe will prove to be one of the
most valued enhanced member benefits we have ever offered our members. Check it out! I think it speaks for itself. Added value comes in the
form of the layout and format, as well as the enhanced content that will
continuously include at least 50 percent more content than past editions.
2. You will soon be enjoying a completely new/retooled website for the
VAA. This too will be a product of aggressive capabilities, valued timely
content, and current VAA news and information. The Website Committee, headed by Director Tim Popp, has now secured the all-new sites developer who recently provided the VAA board with a thorough briefing
on his website development ideas and available tools, and the board responded by passing a motion to proceed immediately with this venture.
More information will be shared with the membership as this product
rolls out in the coming months.
3. Indexed and searchable online access to all previous editions of the
Vintage Airplane magazine. Yeah, I know! We have been talking about this
offering for some time now, but its time has come. And now is the time for
us to execute on this much sought after and desirable featured capability.
4. What began as the members annual convention, EAA AirVenture
Oshkosh has grown into aviations premier event. It has gained worldwide stature based on its own unique personality, culture, variety, and
the depth and breadth of its programs. With this in mind, we are planning a continuation of Vintage Grassroots venues at EAA AirVenture
similar to the level of the Cubs 2 Oshkosh event. The memberships reaction to Cubs 2 Oshkosh was very positive, and we are planning to concontinued on page 54

Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jim Busha

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

VAA Executive Administrator Theresa Books

920-426-6110 . . . . . . . . .

Advertising Executive . . . . Jonathan Berger

920-426-6886 . . . . . . . .

Advertising Director . . . . . Katrina Bradshaw

202-577-9292 . . . . . . . . .

Advertising Manager . . . . Sue Anderson

920-426-6127 . . . . . . . . .

Design. . . . . . . . . . . . . Livy Trabbold

VAA, PO Box 3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903


Current EAA members may join the Vintage Aircraft Association and receive VINTAGE
AIRPLANE magazine for an additional $42
per year.
magazine and one year membership in the
EAA Vintage Aircraft Association is available
for $52 per year (SPORT AVIATION magazine not
included). (Add $7 for International Postage.)

Please submit your remittance with a
check or draft drawn on a United States
bank payable in United States dollars. Add
required Foreign Postage amount for each
Membership Service
PO Box 3086
Oshkosh, WI 54903-3086
MondayFriday, 8:00 AM6:00 PM CST
Join/Renew 800-564-6322
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

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12/13/12 11:17 AM

Vol. 41, No. 1





Around the Pylons

Air racing revolution
Don Berliner


How to?
Construct a cap strip bending form
Robert G. Lock


A Long Journey Home

Full circle Buhl
Sparky Barnes Sargent


Drowned Eagles
The disastrous 1927 Dole Air Derby
Mark Carlson


The Very Best

The restoration of Chuck Doyle Jr.s Stearman
Jim Hanson


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12/13/12 11:17 AM


Straight and Level

2012-A year in review
Geoff Robison

The Vintage Instructor

Woulda, shoulda, coulda
Steve Krog, CFI

Ask the AME

John Patterson, M.D.

Good Old Days


Type Club Corner

Original owner reunited with
his airplane 1947, Cessna 120 2032V
Allen and Christian Vehrs


Type Club Corner

Listening for the sound of success
Marla Boone


Gone West


How to?
Construct a cap strip bending form
Robert G. Lock


The Vintage Mechanic

Approaching a restoration project:
Where do I start? Part 1
Robert G. Lock


Vintage Trader


VAA Tail View

Jim Busha

FRONT COVER: Chuck Doyle Jr.s beautifully
restored Stearman ies into the sunset.Photo
by Adam Glowaski.

BACK COVER: Buhl Air Sedan heads for home

after attending Airventure 2012. Photo by H.G.

Send your thoughts to the Vintage Editor at:
For missing or replacement magazines,
or any other membership related questions, please call EAA Member Services
at 800-JOIN-EAA (564-6322).


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12/13/12 11:52 AM



Nominate your favorite vintage aviator for the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association Hall of Fame. A great honor could be
bestowed upon that man or woman working next to you on
your airplane, sitting next to you in the chapter meeting, or
walking next to you 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 citizen of any country and may be living or deceased; his or her involvement
in vintage aviation must have occurred between 1950 and

the present day. His or her contribution can be in the areas

of ying, design, mechanical or aerodynamic developments,
administration, writing, some other vital and relevant eld,
or any combination of elds that support aviation. The person you nominate must be or have been a member of the
Vintage Aircraft Association or the Antique/Classic Division of EAA, and preference is given to those whose actions have 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.
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.


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12/13/12 11:18 AM

the Vintage Instructor


Woulda, shoulda, coulda

Many have said a majorit y of accidents/
incidents could have been prevented; the unfortunate
outcome was a result of a series of small things that,
when added together, led to an incident or accident.
This is often referred to as a chain of events. As a flight
instructor, I spend a good deal of ground school and
flight training time discussing potential situations
that could lead to an incident or worse. Actual situations are then experienced by the student (under the
control of the instructor), such as pulling the power to
idle just as the main gear leaves the runway. This is a
practice I use with students, provided I know we have
adequate runway to execute the balked takeoff.
Some incidents begin taking place well before getting to the end of the runway. For example, several
years ago while attending a major fly-in I observed an
airplane taxi by the spot near where I was standing.
The pilots head was in the cockpit focused on the instrument panel, adjusting the many bells and whistles
on the instruments, radio, and GPS. In an instant of
nonsituational awareness, major trouble developed.
The aircraft left the taxiway, traveled down an embankment through a drainage ditch, and ended up

parked on a concrete waterway entrance. Taxi speed

was not the problem; the pilot was taxiing quite slowly
given the many people nearby. However, the pilots
inattention led to a serious problem. No one was injured, but the pilots pride and self-esteem were certainly bruised severely that day.
How did this really happen? One can only speculate,
but Ill take a guess that it happened like this. It was a
true chain of events. The aircraft was not involved in
the fly-in activities. Rather, it was meant to be a short
charter flight. The pilot was prepared, and a preflight
of the airplane was completed in preparation for the
short 40-minute flight. But the passengers were late
in arriving due to the amount of traffic entering the
fly-in grounds. Upon arrival the passengers were in a
hurry to get going. With passengers quickly aboard,
the pilot attempted to expedite the launch time and
began taxiing to the runway while setting up the required radio frequencies, GPS coordinates, and other
needed instrumentation.
The preoccupied pilot failed to negotiate a slight
curve, departed the taxiway, and slid into the drainage
ditch and concrete placement. In a matter of seconds,
an anticipated short flight ended in disaster.
Thinking back over the many flights Ive personally
made, especially cross-country flights earlier in my
flying career, I recall several instances where I found
myself in a situation in which Id rather not to be. If
you are honest with yourself, you, too, have been in
similar circumstances.
While I was attending an all day fly-in an hour or so
away from home, the weather began to look ominous.
Rather than stick around awaiting the impending
thunderstorm, I chose to head for home in too much

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12/13/12 11:21 AM


of a hurry. That was my first in a series of mistakes. I

expedited my taxi to the runway, only to find that I
had taxied directly up against a runway end marker
(turf runway with a painted tire). Thankfully, it was a
low marker and not within reach of the prop, but I did
have to shut down and push the plane back away from
it; my second mistake.
Once back in the cockpit, with engine running, I
took off . . . neglecting to do a magneto check. The airplane didnt want to climb like it should, so after leveling off I did a quick mag check. Oops! One dead mag;
my third mistake. Isnt it interesting how things will
break at the most inopportune of times?
And finally, the weather wasnt at all what was
expected. There were cells popping up all over. My
fourth mistake. I should have checked the weather
before departing. It was as easy as a phone call,
but I was in a hurry. Now, what should have been
an easy one-hour flight turned into more than two
hours zigging and zagging all over the sky avoiding
spotty downpours, dealing with turbulence, and
hoping that my one good mag held on until I could
get home.
The outcome could have been much worse. I managed to get both the airplane and me home, but what
started out to be a planned fun day of flying evolved
into a sweaty-palmed, knotted-stomach situation
that could have been avoided. Im sure weve all been
there and done that. But did we learn from our personal experiences?
More recently, an experienced pilot and very good
friend purchased an airplane. It was a make and model
he had sought for some time but had no experience in


it. I flew with him for an hour or so and then suggested

he spend additional time getting the feel of the plane by
doing a series of takeoffs and landings on the turf.
The following weekend a mutual friend was holding
a small gathering at his private strip. My pilot friend
decided to attend in his recently purchased airplane.
His arrival at the strip was uneventful and all enjoyed
a fun-filled gathering. When it was time to depart, the
sequence of events leading to an unpleasant conclusion began to accrue.
Not having a lot of experience in the airplane, the
pilot was unsure of the ground run required to make
a safe departure. It was a cool 47F day with a 10-mph
breeze from the east, so everything should be okay. His
daughter was along for the flight, but by the pilots
calculations the takeoff weight was well below maximum allowable gross weight. And with the cool temp
and 10-mph breeze directly on the nose, everything
should be okay.
A friend, who had driven to the gathering, offered
to give the pilots daughter a ride back to the airport
about 15 miles away. The pilot respectfully declined,
saying his calculations indicated that everything should
be okay.
The pilot taxied to the very end of the runway to
ensure having every foot of turf available to him.


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settle back to earth or f lip

over on its back . Eventually it did go over, coming
to rest upside down, damaging one wingtip and bending
the prop. Thankfully there
were no injuries other than
wounded pride.
I talked with the pilot a
short time later, and he had
already diagnosed every mistake he had made:
I shoulda acquired more
time in the airplane before
landing at the short strip.
I shoulda held the airplane
on the ground a few seconds
longer rather than forcing it
to fly in ground effect.
I shoulda listened to the
advice of a couple of the attending pilots and accepted
the offer to have my daughter
ride back to the airport.
If I had more experience
with the airplane and short
strips, I woulda angled my
liftoff slightly to the left to
avoid the wires.
If I had angled to the left,
I woulda had more time to
gain airspeed and lift.
If I had done all of the
shoulda s a n d woulda s, I
coulda made a safe uneventful takeoff.
The pilot and still dear
friend made several mistakes
leading to a newly acquired
but now damaged airplane.
However, he also realized his
predicament and made the
correct decisions preventing injury to himself and his
daughter. It has become a
learning situation for all,
and my friend now uses this
experience to educate other
pilots on the field.
Never forget: Tube, fabric, and
tin can all be replaced!



As the takeoff roll began,

he realized that the liftoff
would be very close to the
runway end. However, the
low-hanging wires about
200 yards beyond the runway seemed t o fill the
windshield and caused him
to force the plane off in
ground effect. It took a few
more precious seconds to
recover and begin clawing
for altitude, but everything
should be okay.
At this point, however,
the runway was gone, leaving a recently picked cornfield and low-hanging wires
dead ahead. Knowing that
he would not be able to clear
the low-hanging wires, the
pilot quickly made a wise decision and attempted to land
in the recently har vested
cornfield. It was then that he
saw the raised road paralleling the wires. With no other
options available, he hit the
road hard, damaging the left
main gear but was able t o
pass underneath the wires.
Forward energy now depleted but knowing the inevitable outcome, the pilot
closed the fuel valve, shut
the mags off, and retarded
the throttle. Remembering
his training, he attempted
to keep the plane flying until making contact with the
field following the old adage: If a forced landing is
inevitable, then make the
landing at the slowest airspeed possible. T he forward momentum was just
enough, together with the
soft turf and cornstalks, to
force the tail upward. For a
second or two the airplane
couldnt decide whether to


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12/13/12 11:22 AM

Ask the AME


RC writes, A friend has been diagnosed with

hypertension and wants to know what medications are approved and what do they need to tell
their aviation medical examiner (AME).
This is probably the most common scenario
that the AME faces since hypertension and obesity are epidemic in our nation.
Hypertension is defined by
the FAA as any blood pressure
reading above 155 mm mercury
systolic and 95 mm diastolic.
The systolic phase is the compression stroke of the hear t,
and the diastolic is the relaxation phase of the ventricle of
the heart. Most physicians consider hypertension to be any
reading above 140/90, so the
FAA is lenient in this regard. It
is easier to list medications that
are not allowed for hypertension. Older meds such as reserpine, guanethidine,
guanadrel, guanabenz, and methyldopa are not
approved because they have effects on the brain
(centrally acting). They have effects that limit
the pilots reaction time and reasoning ability
in addition to lowering blood pressure. For this
reason they are not used much anymore, though
I will occasionally see a patient that is on them.
Suffice it to say that all other Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications for the
treatment of hypertension are FAA acceptable.
Though not specifically stated, the FAA generally
recognizes a two-week adjustment period while
on a new blood pressure medication for the first

time to rule out adverse side effects. If none are

encountered, the pilot can report the medication
on the next certification visit.
If this is the first time on a blood pr essure
medication, then several things need to be reviewed by the AME at the nex t medical and
then sent to the FAA. A statement should be ob tained
from the treating physician
describing any side effects or
lack thereof, family history,
risk factors, and representative blood pressure readings
(usually three). In addition
to a resting EKG, lab tests including sodium, potassium,
chloride (or electrolytes), cholesterol, triglycerides (lipid
profile), and glucose should
be obtained. If all are within
normal limits, the AME can issue the medical certificate without restriction.
Subsequent visits should include a tr eating
physician statement as to the stability of treatment. Blood work including a potassium level
is required only if on a diuretic or fluid pill.
Specific medical certification information can
be obtained through the Internet at www.FAA.
gov (licenses and certificates) and then to medical
certificates. AOPA members have access to a medication database at
medical. EAA has available resources and answers
to medical certification issues at 1-800-564-6322.
Or e-mail me for further questions and new topics, John Patterson, M.D., at


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12/13/12 11:23 AM

Good Old Days

From pages of what was . . .
Take a quick look through history by enjoying
images pulled from publications past.


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What would you have found . . .

Flying, December 1947

Flying, May 1941

Flying, May 1941


Y 20

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12/13/12 11:24 AM

Type Club Corner

Allen and Christian Vehrs

Original owner reunited with his airplane

1947 Cessna 120 2032V
Many times I have looked through our logbooks
and wondered about the previous owners. Who were
they? How did they take care of our airplane before
we got it? And just how did that repair behind the left
gear leg get there? Since 32V is 65 years old this summer, most of these questions will never be answered
So imagine our surprise when my dad received
a phone call from someone who identified himself
as Dennis Reif, the grandson of one of the original
owners. He informed us that his grandpa Lesley had
a partner for the purchase of 32V back in 1947. Although his grandpa passed away several years prior,
the partner, Duhhain Waeker, is still alive and living
close to Wichita. The first question he asked: Is she
still flying?
We were pleased to inform Dennis that not only is
she still flying, but in recent years we have taken her
to Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, Florida,
South Dakota, and Texas, and we have plans to go
to Arizona this October.
Within a day, we received a phone call from Duhhain Waeker, the sole-surviving original owner of
our 1947 Cessna 120.
Duhhain informed us that he was 17 years old
when he partnered with Lesley to purchase the

airplane. Lesley was in his mid-30s at the time and

died in 1996. Duhhain began sending photos of the
airplane that were taken in the first year of ownership. In the following weeks, both Dennis and Duhhain asked us to stop by Wichita on our way out to
Tucson in October.
The more Dad and I talked about it, the more we
realized that this warranted a special trip, and I asked
Dennis to choose a date this summer. He chose July 7
since it was the date of the upcoming local EAA chapter fly-in.
Duhhain was very excited to hear that his old airplane was coming home. In the days leading up to our
trip, he told us story after story about his experiences
flying 32V and even shed light on that repair behind
the gear leg. Apparently, Lesley had dismissed the
advice of the other pilots one day after a severe downpour which left all of the airplanes up
to their axles in mud. Lesley was convinced he could
make it in the air and over
the trees at the end of the
runway. When it became
obvious that he couldnt,
he aborted the takeoff and
had to induce a ground loop
to avoid the trees. The story
goes on to describe how the
gear leg was pulled c ompletely under the belly of the
airplane. As they raised the
wing, the gear leg sprung out

VintageJan2013.indd 15


12/13/12 11:32 AM

and launched a huge mound of mud into the air with

a loud clang.
Duhhain is laughing as he tells the story. But I
am thinking, Now wait a minute. Is that the same
gear leg that I have been flying my wife and children
around with for the last 16 years? Yep.
The week prior to July 7 promised thunderstorms
in the Atlanta area, so I made the decision to fly out
early in the week. I figured I could get out there Tuesday and take a Delta flight back Wednesday morning
to be home for the 4th. It all worked perfectly, and I
got home in time to see the Cubs beat the Braves and
see the fireworks show with my family after the game.
Many thanks to John Kliewer who saw our airplane
sitting on the ramp in Newton and had it moved into
a hangar at his expense.
Friday the 6th, Dad and I hopped another Delta
flight to Wichita where Sharon Brown picked us up
and took us out to lunch. She also took us out to the
old Cessna factory buildings where the 140s were
built. She showed us where her husband Morts office
was while he was the test pilot for Cessna. Then she
drove us up to Newton and dropped us off to begin
our historic weekend.
Our plan was to get the airplane out of the hangar
and over the wash rack to clean off 800 miles of bugs
and dirt before the picture taking started. Too late
Duhhain heard of our arrival and met us at the airport
with a reporter from the local newspaper, The Kansan.

thingthank you.
I didnt think a little Cessna 120 could bring about
the same reaction. Duhhain looked at the registration
number on the tail of the airplane and felt for the repair behind the left gear leg to confirm that this truly
was 2032V. And then, full of tears, he said thank you.
He sat in the left seat and told us stories of how he
used to visit the factory and watch as his airplane was
being assembled. I took him for a ride that afternoon
and let him take the controls. I asked him if she remembers him. He said that the real question is, does
he remember her. He continued to climb and began a
series of turns. It seemed to me that they were both
doing just fine.
The next day was Saturdaythe EAA chapter fly-in.
Dennis Reif came out to meet us for the traditional
pancake breakfast and brought his dad, Dale, and his
son, Nick. Dale is the son of Lesley and is currently 74.
He remembers the airplane as a 9-year-old boy.

Dale Reif, now 74, son of Lesley, remembers the

airplane as a 9-year-old boy.

Duhhain Waeker
Over the years, I have seen WWII veterans sitting
in the cockpits of a restored aircraft at Oshkosh and
Sun n Fun. They usually sit in silence and scan the
flight deck as tears begin to well up in their eyes. These
are men of few words, but they always say the same

Dale did an interview with the local television news

channel after he felt for the repair behind the left gear
leg. The big story was the homecoming of the airplane
and its reunion with one of the original ownersand
the three generations of the Reif family who lived to
see Lesleys old airplane.
There was a really colorful story that did not make
the media interview. It was a question that was on
most peoples mind, but no one openly asked. How
did Duhhain, a 17-year-old kid who grew up in the Depression and war years, get the money to buy part of
a new airplane?
The answer to that question starts out with a nervous shifting of weight and a little sparkle in the eye.


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12/13/12 11:32 AM

pas airplane. It seemed like everything was right in

the world and our little airplane was truly home.

Back then, Kansas was dry he said.

I think most folks know that he wasnt talk ing
about the Kansas farmers praying for rain.
Back in 1947, the Newton airport was an unlit grass
strip in a small farm town 25 miles outside of Wichita.
Local legends describe curious nighttime operations
of a small airplane taking off and landing with the
aid of flare pots acquired from highway construction
projects. Perhaps confession is good for the soul; by
the end of our weekend, Duhhain was regaling us with
stories of whiskey running in old 2032V. Now that I
think about it, Im guessing that she has a few more
hours on her than the logbooks indicate. Thats okay
by me, because after 65 years, she wears them well.
After lunch, I took Dennis for a ride. After some circles around the airport and some time over Newton,
Dennis asked me if I want to see an old farmhouse. I
said fine since I was here for their benefit. He directed
me out of town to the north and began a series of
stories about how his grandpa Lesley used to land the
airplane in the farm fields next to the house.
As we approached the little farmhouse, I saw the
wheat and cornfields laid out in all directions with
gravel roads crossing the landscape. I imagined how
our airplane used to land in those fields. We circled
over the house to draw the attention of the current
owner, a friend of the Reif family. As we circled, I saw
my opportunity.
I twisted the yoke, kicked right rudder, and told
Dennis, I can get in there.
Airline pilots would have called it an unstable approach. I fought the winds burbling over the nearby
tree line and corrected for the rise and fall of the terrain. What happened next was almost magical. I believe 32V reached her legs out and landed herself on
a Kansas wheat field that sunny afternoon. We taxied
over to the farmhouse and Dennis just stood there,
looking around at his boyhood home and his grand-

Wearing her 65 years well, she taxied perfectly

up to the little farmhouse.
You know, I have often thought that one day I
would replace the fuselage skin around the left gear
leg to get rid of that old repair. But now, I am thinking
that maybe Ill leave it there.




VintageJan2013.indd 17


12/13/12 11:33 AM

Type Club Corner

Marla Boone

Listening for the sound of success

In my next life, I resolved, my primary
training is going to be in a taildragger.
Unless one learned early on precisely what role feet
play in aviation, the first few flights in a tailwheel airplane are an exacting reminder. Twenty-six years of
flying aileron-interconnect Pipers and obedient Cessnas was poor preparation for being at the controls of a
Waco. Takeoffs in those Cherokees and Skyhawks require right rudder. Takeoffs in a large biplane requires
right rudder. My occasional foray in a Taylorcraft or
Pacer gave me a hint of what was in store as my longtime mentor and aircraft partner checked me out in
our 1928 ASO.


In what had probably seemed like a good idea at the

time, the founders of the Weaver Aircraft Company
(Waco) had devised a system of aircraft designation
that is fiendish in its simplicity.
The first letter denoted the engine type. A stood
for Wright J5, D for Hispano-Suiza, G for OX-5,
and so on. The second letter indicated the wing type.
This was a little more intuitive, but not much: S for
Straightwing, T for Taperwing, and P or R, for
example, taken from drawings listed by that letter.
The final letter registered the fuselage type. O actually meant 10, and F signified the short, compact
fuselage that enjoys such immense popularity.


VintageJan2013.indd 18

12/13/12 11:33 AM

Buck Weavers successors ran through practically

the entire alphabet in each category, giving us the
QDC, the UPF, the YKS, and many more. Then, in
1930, Waco reworked the whole system, confounding future generations of enthusiasts. The Waco is as
tricky to identify as it is gorgeous to behold.
But, back at the ranch, or in this case, the airport,
the few brain cells I could spare from the task at hand
kept forwarding helpful messages such as, Dont

bend the airplane!

It had taken 11 years for my partners and me to
restore our green and cream Straightwing, and the
thought of even chipping the paint was enoug h to
make me feel ill. Or maybe that sick sensation came
from the nagging realization that sooner or later I was
going to have to try to get this thing on the ground in
a reusable condition.
Aside from using those five-toed platforms on the

VintageJan2013.indd 19


12/13/12 11:33 AM

A gentle sigh and a swish. Those

were the sounds I was looking for.
In ground effect, our wings generate
a soft whisper when they are on the
cusp of running out of lift. Swish
go the wheels as they reacquaint
with the ground when the whole
shebang decides to quit flying.
After braving it out for what
must have seemed an endless
amount of time and too many circuits of the traffic pattern to count,
my check pilot got out, smiled, and
said, Go have fun.
Fun is an altogether inadequate
word. Our Waco is an absolute
far ends of our legs, another thing a person doesnt dream to fly. Even at the ambitious rates we charge
do enough of when flying around in, say, a Bonanza ourselves per hour, it still ranks as the cheapest psyis slips. Slips are something students learn for the chiatrist on the planet. Everyday cares and lingering
checkride and then seldom use except right there at worries have no place in the rarefied arena of openthe end on crosswind landings.
cockpit flying. This is a world of open vistas, singing
Cross-controlling the airplane goes against just wires, and the delicious aroma of hot oil wafting back
about everything we are taught when were novice from the rumbling engine. It is a world as broad as
pilots. But when you are peering out of the shuttered the horizon, yet as narrow as your newly centered
confines of the rear cockpit surrounded by all manner self. It is a world in which you get your priorities and
of wings sprouting from the sides and a sizable round your hairdo rearranged at the same time. It is a world
engine churning away in the front, a slip becomes an that inspires me to be a better pilot. It is a world that
immediate necessity if you hope to catch a glimpse of moves me to be deserving of it.
the spot on which youd like to land. Should you foolOver a decade spent restoring an 84-year-old airishly decide to forgo the slip, the only thing you are planemore money than is probably practical. Unlearngoing to catch a glimpse of is the head of the person in ing all my bad habitsmore time than it should have
the front cockpit.
taken. Hearing that elusive swishpriceless.
In this instance, the head of the person in the front
cockpit appeared to be engrossed in some mediumintensity conversation with a higher power as I got the
Waco lined up (sort of) with the grass strip we call home.
Have you any idea of the number of ways there
are to land an airplane badly? Oh, there are dozens.
Perhaps hundreds. In the course of my checkout, I
fumbled my ham-handed way through an unhealthy
percentage of them.
The soundtrack looping through my head went
something like this: More rudder. More rudder. A little less wing down. Eleven hundred feet over the trees.
More rudder. Keep it in the center of the runway. The
center! Get your feet ready, ready, ready. Slowly raise
the nose. Slowly! Dont jerk back on the stick , you
moron. Busy feet. Busy feet. Hold the stick all the way
back now.
And let us not forget the ever-encouraging: Dont
bend the airplane.


VintageJan2013.indd 20

12/13/12 11:33 AM

Gone West

Sam Thompson
Sam Thompson, retired previous owner of Tulsa
Aircraft Engines in Tulsa, Oklahoma, passed away
unexpectedly November 14, 2012. He was 70 years
old, born November 12, 1942, in Tulsa. As recent as
Saturday night, November 10, he celebrated his 70th
birthday and retirement from Tulsa Aircraft Engines.
Sam was well-known throughout the ag-aviation
industry for his calm and quiet demeanor. He received

both his private and commercial pilot certificates in

the same year he graduated from Oklahoma State
University with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology in
1965. He also attended Northeastern State College,
Tulsa University, and Tulane University earning a
masters degree in the arts. He started working at
Tulsa Aircraft Engines in 1974 and served as vice president, shop supervisor, and eventually owner after
his father, Henry Thompson. Previously, Sam was an
assistant professor of art at Farmington State College
and teacher of art at Tulsa public schools.
Sam is survived by his wife, Vanessa Thompson,
mother Lois Johnson, daughter Julie Spencer, and
five grandchildren Ella, Kate, Zoie, Lucy, and Cotton.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Philbrook Museum of Art or the MD Anderson Cancer Center (713-792-3450).

hat O
ur Members
Are Restoring
Are you nearing completion of a
restoration? Or is it done and youre
b u s y f l yi n g a n d s h o wi n g i t o f f ?
If so, wed like to hear from you.
Send us a 4-by-6-inch print from a
commercial source or a 4-by-6-inch,
300-dpi digital photo. A JPG from
your 2.5-megapixel (or higher) digital
camera is fine. You can burn photos
to a CD, or if youre on a high-speed
Internet 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 information, you can also e-mail

VintageJan2013.indd 21


12/13/12 11:34 AM


the Pylons
Air racing revolution
Don Berliner

So ciet y of Air Racing Historians

he event that changed

air racing more than any
other in its 100-year history was World War II.
Prior to those terrible
few years, air racing was dominated by custom-built airplanes
created by individuals or small
groups motivated by love of the
sport and the need to make money
during the Great Depression. Art
Chester, Keith Rider, Steve Wittman, Benny Howard, Clayton Folkerts, and their peers poured their
creativity into minimal airplanes
having maximum engines. Close
competition was the inevitable result, which the huge crowds loved


and we continue to glorify.

Immediately after the war, the
hangars and ramps at Cleveland
were filled with surplus military
airplanes that were easily recognized despite their limited modifications and quickly applied colorful
paint trim. Once the 1946 National
Air Races crowd got over its brief
infatuation with the wonder ful
speed and noise of the ex-fighters,
their lack of individuality produced
a surprising level of boredom.
The solution to the problem involved the cooperation of the Professional Race Pilots Association, which
dusted off an old idea, brought it
up to date, and with the priceless

support of the Aviation Division of

Goodyear Tire & Rubber, launched
the 190 Cubic Inch Class. A horde of
would-be amateur builders (the flying of nonracing homebuilts was illegal back then) learned of the new
idea, and in a hundred or more basement and garage workshops, they
set to work to create an entirely new
class of racing airplanes. While some
had experience rebuilding older airplanes, few had built original airplanes, let alone designed them, so
most of them started from scratch
on the unfamiliar road to developing and proving airplanes in time for
the first Goodyear Trophy Race, less
than nine months away.


VintageJan2013.indd 22

12/13/12 11:34 AM

trials. The new rules would make

this a thing of the past.
What the new class would definitely not do was break all ties with
the past. Of the 12 airplanes that
qualified at Cleveland in 1947, 11
had direct connections with 1930s
racing. They will be listed in the order they finished the Finals and the
Consolation Races.
#20 Wittman Buster NX14855. It first appeared in 1931 as
the American Cirruspowered Chief
Oshkosh in which Steve scored his
first of many wins and then tested
his spring-leaf landing gear strut
that then was used on Tailwinds
and 100,000 Cessnas. The plane got
a four-cylinder Menasco and was

raced until the limited-displacement

classes were canceled. The Chief was
modified into a sport plane, and
when the Goodyear series was an-


The dozen airplanes that qualified around the 2-mile rectangular

pylon course comprised the vanguard of a new era in air racing,
one that would spread around the
United States and then to Europe,
remaining little changed for more
than 60 years. The regulations for
the class were unlike anything previously seen, in their ex tensive
specifications controlling matters
that had long been left up to the
imagination and nerve of the individual. Henceforth, their airplanes
would have to meet standards for
minimum wing area, minimum
empty weight, minimum pilot visibility, and maximum piston displacement. Retractable landing
gears, variable-pitch propellers,
and racing fuels were banned.
There would also be flight tests to
ensure that each new racer would
not be a danger to the others.
The long list of dos and donts
must have been a shock to the veterans of prewar racing. Failure of
the Midget Class was predicted by
more than one pilot who had somehow survived racing an airplane
that had been rushed to completion at Cleveland a few minutes before it was scheduled to start time

Bill Brennand in front of Buster.


Loose Special




VintageJan2013.indd 23


12/13/12 11:35 AM

nounced, it received a new wing,

engine, and cowl. In 1947, Bill Brennand won the first of his many major trophies. In 1954 it was f lown
to Washington and handed over to
the Smithsonian National Air and
Space Museum, where it has been
on display for more than 55 years.
#5 Chester Swee Pea
N8400H. Art Chester gained a national reputation with the success
of his prewar Jeep and Goon. When
the Goodyear series came along, he
went a new direction, equipping his
first as well as two successive midgets with a V-tail, and its cooling air
inlet in the spinner. Paul Penrose
placed second that first year, despite
the inability of the tail to control direction at low speed; future Chester
midgets would have added ventral
surface area to limit this. A trial use
of a conventional tail didnt work, so
he went back to the Vee. As the Sky
Baby, it was briefly raced by Chester
crew chief Lynn Kauffold. Until a few
years ago it was in storage, then donated to Planes of Fame, which has
plans for its restoration.
#10 Cosmic Wind NX-67889.
The plane was one of two of an
eventual five, all-metal midgets
from LeVier & Associates. Raced
by Herman Fish Salmon in what
was then named Minnow #4 and
N21C for 1948, it got a longer engine mount and bubble canopy
during that time. Salmon won the
1948 Goodyear, then saw a new
mid-wing and tail for 1949 which
failed to live up to expectations as a
second-generation Cosmic Wind. It
was raced occasionally, then sold to
Pacific Air Races and later dismantled for used parts in an unsuccessful military prototype. Parts were
eventually acquired by an English
group which is gradually restoring
it to its 1948 configuration.
#3 Cosmic Wind Little Toni
NX-67888. It was first raced by


Cosmic Wind Little Toni



Bill Falcks Jeep.

Lockheed chief test pilot Tony

LeVier until pressured to retire
from racing. In 1948 it became
N21C and was raced on and off
through the 1960s, briefly as #7
French Quarter Special before Roy
Berry began its restoration. The
plane was sold to Ian McCowen and
registered G-AYRJ in England. It
was returned to the United States
and is owned by Jim Fernandez in
Seattle who intends to restore it.
#44 Loose Special NX-64573.
It was built from the late prewar
Loose Special NR-13686 by Chester Loose and Warren Siem. The

plane was raced in 1947 by Siem

and then by prewar great Early
Ortman. Long retired, its whereabouts are unknown.
#19 Brown Suzie Jayne NX83Y. Built in the 1930s as the
Brown B-1, its a smaller version
of the Brown B-2 Miss Los Angeles.
Raced through 1949 by Billie Robinson, the plane has been restored
by EAA and is in the Sun n Fun
Museum, Lakeland, Florida.
#89 Falck Jeep N12930. Built
by Art Chester in the early 1930s
and raced until the late 1930s, it
was then sold to Bill Falck so the


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12/13/12 11:35 AM

Fliteways Special.


Allenbaugh Californian.

Francis-Angell Whistler.



engine, prop, and cowl would be

used in a 375 Ci. Class racer. Before he could finish it, the class
was canceled. When the Goodyear Trophy Race was announced,
Falck used par ts (mainly tail
feathers) in a midget in which he

won the 1947 Consolation R ace.

Retired after the 1948 Goodyear,
it sat around until EAA picked it
up, completely restored it to its
1930s Jeep configuration, and
placed it on display in EAA Headquarters in Oshkosh.

#70 Fliteways Special NX18219. Built from the 1937 WhiteKremsreiter Special by Fliteways
Inc., and raced by Charley Bing, it
was destroyed in a crash during 1948
Goodyear qualifying tests, with Bob
Huggins parachuting to safety.
#95 Allenbaugh Californian
NX-67893. The plane was designed
by prewar designer Eddie Allenbaugh
and built with a fuselage of molded
plywood. After the 1947 Goodyear,
the wings were used on Allenbaughs
#66 Grey Ghost, a prone-piloted
pusher that crashed on its first test
flight, killing Mike Argander.
#81 Francis & Angell Whistler NX-84Y. Built from the prewar Hansen Special, which was a
modified Heath, it was raced in the
1947 Goodyear by William Taylor,
retired in 1948, and is now on public display in Lansing, Michigan.
#39 Nimmo PFTTTT NX67894. The plane was designed and
built by Rodney Nimmo, who had
been involved in at least one prewar
racer. Raced in the 1947 Goodyear
by Mike Argander and then broken
up for parts to be used in the construction of #39 Deerfly, it was also
called the Mike Argander Special.
# 85 H u r l b u r t H u r r i ca n e
N1223. It was built for Marge Hurlburt, who was killed in an air show
crash while raising money for the
project. She would not have been
allowed to fly it in the men-only
Goodyear. It was raced by Eugene
Smith but failed to start in the
Consolation Race. Parts have been
long rumored to be in California.
#91 Falcon Racers Special
N1223M. A 13th racer in Cleveland in 1947, it lost a wing during
qualifying tests, with pilot Claude
Smith jumping safely.
Your comments and suggestions are welcomed by the author

VintageJan2013.indd 25


12/13/12 11:35 AM

How to?

Construct a cap strip bending form

A cap strip bending form is a fixture in which

wing rib cap strips are bent to proper curvature.

The cap strips will have their fibers softened in
hot water and then are clamped in this fixture
while still wet. When the moisture has dried they
may be removed from the form and will retain
their curvature.
To make the form it will be necessary to secure a large section of soft woodI like to find
a really good piece of fine-grained and knot-free
redwood about 18 inches in length that measures
at least 4 inches by 4 feet. Using an existing wing
rib, trace the outline of the upper (and if necessary the lower) cap strip nose section where the
bend is the most extreme.
Since the formed cap strips will tend to spring
back somewhat after they are removed from the
form, it is a good idea to saw the block with a
slightly sharper curve than needed. Cut the form
with a band saw and sand the cut smooth.

These three illustrations depict the drawn

curve, the band saws guide line and the
2 pieces that result in the cut.



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12/13/12 11:36 AM

To soak the cap strips you will need to construct a tube

capable of holding water. There is no need to soak the entire cap strip but rather the forward section only, about
from the front spar forward. I use a section of 4-inch diameter PVC pipe about 3-feet long and bond a cap on one
end. When ready to soak I put enough hot water in the pipe
to wet out the cap strips and then drop the strips into the
water. Since wood likes to float, if needed add some weight
to hold the cap strips down in the water. Let them soak for
one to two hours. Remove and immediately place in the
form block, clamp down using two C-clamps, and leave
overnight to dry. The dry redwood form block will absorb
most of the moisture of the cap strips.

Above, a 1929 Command-Aire 5C3 main wing rib when I built it way back in 1985.

VintageJan2013.indd 27


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VintageJan2013.indd 28

12/13/12 11:38 AM

The restoration of Chuck Doyle Jr.s Stearman

Jim Hanson

After you read this article,
you will understand why I
chose the title.
Its funny. Often I start writing a
story and it takes twists and turns,
and the final story bears only a
slight resemblance to my original idea. I began writing a story
about a remarkable airplane restoration. Those are informational
storiesweve all read those kinds
of stories in aviation magazines.
Theres a good reason. They are
easy to dodescribe the airplane,
get some good photos, end of story.
Everybody likes to look at nice airplanes, and the story itself is pretty
straightforward. Magazine editors
like that.
This story, though, took some
unexpected turns. Id heard about
this Stearman restoration in progressthere was a low undercurrent
and buzz about it in the aviation
underground network. It was reputed to be very good, and very
costly. It involved Chuck Doyles
aircraftand anybody that has
been around Minnesota aviation
for a while knows both Chuck and

the aircraft. There was an expectation that this would be special.

This past spring, I heard that the
aircraft had flownand not long
afterward, I received an e-mail
from Chuck Doyle Jr. asking if Id
like to see it and cover it. Of course
I would!

The Doyles
Do you know C huck Doyle?
Hes an airline pilota mechanic
flies aerobaticsowns a bunch of
antique airplaneshas been flying
since he was a kid. Those statements could apply to Doyle Senior
or Junior.
Chuck Doyle Sr. was born in St.
Louis Park, Minnesota, in 1916.
He first flew at what is now Minneapolis International airport,
back when it still contained the
remnants of the speedway. It was
in an old Navy trainer. He fell in
love with airplanes, rode his beloved motorcycle to the airport,
and did whatever he could to be
around airplanestrading working on airplanes six days a week
for 15 minutes of flying time (and
you thought flying was expensive
today!). He soloed an OX-5 powered Waco in 1933 at the a ge of

17. Shortly afterward, he bought

an OX-5 powered Travel Air biplanerestoring both the engine
and airframeall while still in
high school. He was later expelled
from high school for too many
unexcused absences. Visiting the
airport was apparently not an acceptable reason to skip school.
Wanting to pursue his aviation
career, Doyle exchanged the old engine on his Travel Air for a more
modern Wright Whirlwind engine.
He took up advertising with the
airplaneskywriting and banner
towinglearning it from some
of the originators of the art form.
He also wanted to become part
of the aviation thrill show circuitpilots that would do deathdefying stuntsand sometimes
death was not defied. Aerobatics,
wing-walking, parachuting, mock
aerial battles, intentional crashes,
airplane-to-airplane, and vehicle-to-airplane transfers were the
stock-in-trade of the shows. Doyle
obtained entrance as a performer
by making a parachute jump from
an airplane, which he did with no
training. He went on to do all of the
stunts in the show repertoire. Always looking to add additional exVINTAGE AIRPLANE

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12/13/12 11:39 AM


citement to the thrill show, Doyle

took on ground-based acts, including motorcycle jumps, crashing
through blazing houses and barriers, and car crashes while strapped
to the hood of a vehicle. Doyle always seemed to escape unscathed.
He performed nationwide.
In a strange irony, given the
dangerous nature of his profession, World War II ma y have
saved Doyles life. In Januar y
1942, Doyle was offered a job with

Northwest Airlines, flying copilot

on DC-3s. Doyle worked with the
Mayo Clinic, researching the effect of high altitudes on flight crew
members. Doyle took a leave from
Northwest to work temporarily on
the war effort as an aeronautical
consultant, helping build the more
than 1,500 troop-carrying gliders
produced in Minneapolis.
Upon his return to Northwest,
he helped pioneer the routes to
Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.

In only three months, he became a

captain on the airlinea member
of the Air Transport Command
civilian airline pilots flying military
transports. He continued to fly for
Northwest until reaching mandatory retirement age in 1976, flying
all of the great piston airliners: the
four-engine turboprop Electra and
the Boeing 727.
During his airline career, Doyle
moonlighted by buying, restoring, selling, and operating air-


VintageJan2013.indd 32

12/13/12 11:39 AM


craftoften militar y sur plus

aircraft like P-51s, P-40s, Stearman trainers, BT-13s, T-6s, helicopters, and even airliners and
heavy bombers, as well as civil aircraft. One of the aircraft he purchased way back when was this
very same Stearman.
Doyle modified the Stearman
with a 450-hp engine transplanted
from a BT-13, wheelpants, dorsal
fin, and prop spinner. For skywriting, a 50-gallon oil tank was installed in the front cockpit and a
smoke-oil injector was fabricated
for a special smoke-generating tailpipe. Since Doyle regularly towed
banners over Vik ings football
games at the old outdoor Metropolitan Stadium in the autumn
months, a canopy was installed in
deference to the cold Minnesota

weather. The much-modified Stearman became a Minnesota aviation

icon. Chuck Doyle Sr. flew it until
he passed away in 2008.
Chuck Doyle Jr. grew up with
aviation. Chuck shared one of his
earliest memories, when he was 6.
My dad was flying an airline trip
on a Lockheed Electra turboprop
and told the co-pilot, I think its
time that Chuck gets some flying
time, so I stood up behind the control yoke of the Electra and flew
the airplane (with a load of pas sengers!) as Dad watched the controls. I recall having the sense of
controland told him, This isnt
so hardand it would be easier if I
could see out the front!
Chuck flew more with his dad
over the years from the 1,150-foot
family farm airstrip in Apple Valley,

and soloed a Super Cub on his 16th

birthday. He did all of the nonglamorous work associated with maintaining and operating old airplanes:
the maintenance work, cleaning the
shop, adding fuel and oil, assembling
banners, and holding the pickup pole
for the ground banner pickups as
the big-engined Stearman flashed by
inches away overhead.
Though he could f ly himself,
Chuck was always a bit disappointed that he didnt get to tow
the banners or do the skywriting
himself. Dad wouldnt let me do
it, he said, and I resented it. It
wasnt until much later that his father explained that he didnt want
his son flying at the edge of a stall,
towing banners above thousands
of people at the state fair or sports
stadiums with no place nearby to

VintageJan2013.indd 33


12/13/12 11:39 AM


make a forced landing.

I asked him if and when he was
able to fly the famous Super Stearman. It was at Holman Field in
the 1970s, he said. The last day
of towing at the state fair. I was 17
or 18, and I had been working hard
setting up banners. Dad had landed
at Holman, walked over to me, and
said with a sigh, Do you want to
fly the Stearman? I was tired, and
really didnt want to, but I knew
what he was offering and I would
never pass up that opportunity.
Tell the tower that you want to
stay in the pattern and shoot a couple of landings, he said. It was my
first takeoff and landing at a towercontrolled airport. I shot some
landingsthey came out pretty
well. Afterward, my dad just left
the aircraft at Holman, and took
me out and bought me a beer.
I know what C huck was talk32

ing about. Some fathers are short

on spoken praise, but when they
do acknowledge that youve met
their standards, it is better than
anything they could have said
alouda mutual and unspoken
acknowledgement. Youve also
shared an airplane, a beer, the sky,
and an adventure.
T hough C huck didnt dwell
on it, he seems to have the same
mixed feelings that most children
of famous people have for their
parentssometimes rejection or denialthen acceptance of the special
circumstances they grew up with
then a real appreciation for their parents contributions. One of Chucks
tales about growing up in the aviation household is illustrative.
I took Dads Stits Playboy for a
flight, he related. My friends were
there, and I made a pass over the
field at barn altitude, and did three

rolls before landing. Dad stormed

up to me and said, I dont know
how many times Ive had to tell you
that I dont want you doing that in
my airplane! He thundered, But by
the way, the third roll was the best!
It was only later that I realized that
his sometimes critical treatment
of me was because he had seen the
consequences of even small mistakes in his business, and he didnt
want that to happen to me.
Chuck continued to fly, and obtained his airframe and powerplant repairmans certificate. Like
so many other children of successful business owners, he moved
away from the family business and
established his independence by
starting an automotive parts and
machine shop. Like so many of us,
aviation kept calling him back, and
he went to work for Roy Redman at
RARE Aircraft in 1994.


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12/13/12 11:39 AM

It was a chance to work on airplanesold airplanesthe kind

of airplanes that he grew up with
and he found he liked it. He also
flew those old airplanes. He finally
bowed to the inevitable, and joined
Sun Country Airlines as a f light
engineer on the B oeing 727a
chance to use both his mechanic
and pilot skills.
Today, Chuck is a captain for
Sun Country Airlines, and gets to
enjoy both ends of the a viation
spectrumthe latest technology,
glass-cockpit jets, and the simple
pleasure of f lying visually with
little more than the sound of the
wind in the wires. Today, in addition to the Super Stearman, Chuck
owns that same Stits Playboy (restored two years ago), a Super Decathlon, a 1929 Travel Air 4000, a
Twin Beech, and a Waco F-2.
It has been said that no man becomes a man until his father dies.
Thats true, especially when you are
the son of a famous personyou
will always be compared with your
father. Chuck Jr. has come to terms
with that comparisonhe is his
own personfamous in his own
rightand comfortable with living
with his dads memory while adding his own accomplishments. His
building, restoration, and ownership of the Stearman is something
that he shares with Chuck Sr. It is
a way to acknowledge, honor, and
perpetuate the bond they share.
Lifelong pilot, mechanic, restorer of old airplanes, adventurer,
aerobatic pilot, airline pilotthats
the Doylesboth of them!

The Aircraft
I met with Chuck Jr., along with
Roy Redman from RARE Aircraft,
the people that did the restoration. I wanted information on the
airplane. My very first question:
Why the turquoise paint color?

Chuck chuckled. He had obviously

been asked this before.
Dad wanted a paint job that
would stand out. Originally, he had
a red and cream paint job, then
purple and cream. Those were very
50s-ish paint colors, and even
auto manufacturers were adopting
them. He wanted something green,
in tribute to his Irish heritage, but
not GREEN green, so he settled on
turquoise. He painted everything
turquoisethe Stearman, the
P-51, the house and hangar, the
motorcycle, even the toilet and the
Corvette. It was Dads tradition,
and he loved to get teased about it,
and I wanted to carry that on.
I have to admit, it does stand
I asked Roy and Chuck to tell me
about the aircraft, and they laid
out all of the documents on the
table and said, Ask away! I asked
if the aircraft was airworthy when
they started the project.
It was ferriable, they said.
You have to understandthis
was a working aircraft, and it was
licensed in the restricted category
because of all of the mods and the
smoke system installed in the front
seat. Since this was a family treasure, my brother Brian and sister
Shannon agreed that we should

have the aircraft appraised, and

I would buy out their shares and
have it restored. I wanted a Stearman that I could usesomething
I could take passengers in. It would
take a lot of work t o get it back
to standard categoryand even
then, it wouldnt look good. T he
only way to do that was to do a
complete restoration.
I asked Chuck why, given his
background with the aircraft, his
background in working with RARE
Aircraft, his A&P certificate, and
his appreciation of old aircraft, he
didnt do the work himself. Chuck
smiled and answered in his forthright way:
I spent eight years restoring the
Travel Aire. I fly for a living, and I
spend summers goofing off and flying. I decided to let someone else
do it. The restoration started off
with someone else. I was promised that Id have the aircraft in
one year. Along the way, as I looked
at the progress (or lack thereof),
it was apparent that it wouldnt
be restored the way I wanted it. I
wanted the very best Stearman I
could havenot something cobbled together or good enough.
This was my dads aircraftone
of a kind. I made up my mind to
pull the project. It was messy, and

VintageJan2013.indd 35


12/13/12 11:40 AM


it was costly, but I wasnt going

to throw good money after bad.
Enough said.
Chuck brought the Stearman
to RARE Aircraft. RARE specializes in the very best restorations.
From his previous employment
with RARE Aircraft, Chuck knew
that the finished product would
be expensivebut that it would
be the very best. RARE Aircraft
consistently turns out awardwinning aircraft, so I asked
Chuck if he was going to have the
aircraft judged at Oshkosh. Both
Chuck and Roy smiled.
No, replied Chuck. We could
have built the aircraft back to standardbut that isnt what I wanted.
This aircraft was a family pet ,
but it was also a working aircraft,
much modified from the original.
Judges look for the smallest infractions and deviations from the
original specifications. How would

you judge this aircraft? It has dozens of modsthe cover over the
front pit for the smoke oil, the engine and prop, the turtledeck, the
paint, four ailerons, the brakes, the
faired-in wing access for the front
cockpit, the Serv-Aero engine mount
for aerobatics, the fuel injection system, the smoke exhaust stack, the
inverted fuel and oil systems. This
is a one-of-a-kind aircraft. I wanted
a safe and reliable aircraft to fly for
fun. I wanted the aircraft to look just
as I remember it. I wanted the very
best Stearman I could have.

RARE Aircraft
RARE Aircraft was founded in
1991 by Roy Redman. It has always
been a family-owned operation,
and from the very first, has been
committed to only the best restoration and maintenance. That level
of maintenance comes at a price.
Talking with Roy, Ben, or Jeremy

Redman, you may feel a bit like

talking to the head of maintenance
of a high-end automobile maintenance departmenta Rolls-Royce
or Mercedes-Benz. There will be
no compromisesonly the very
bestand it is well known there
should not be compromises. These
aircraft are worth $250,000 or
morethey should be maintained
accordingly. That doesnt mean
that regular maintenance should
be expensive, though. Aircraft of
this era are simple, and robust.
They were built to take a lot of
punishment from operating from
open fields and the primitive airports. They were built to be maintained in the field, which means
they are easily repairable. You have
to remember, though, that some
of these aircraft are 70 years old
or more. At some time, they have
to be completely remanufactured.
Other than that, these airplanes


VintageJan2013.indd 36

12/13/12 11:40 AM

dont require a lot of ex pensive

maintenance and inspectioneverything is out in the open for inspection, and any airworthiness
directives should have long-since
been issued and complied with.
I asked Roy and C huck what
makes the difference between
a good enough restoration and
the very best. The answer was simple. Good enoughis not good
enough. He elaborates, When
you have an aircraft like this, you
should never have to worry about
it while doing aerobatics or normal
operations. With our restorations,
every bit of hardware is replaced.
All four wings on the aircraft were
built new, as well as the center section. A new engine mount was installed for aerobaticsan inverted
fuel and oil system was installed,
a different smoke system and exhaust installed, different oil cooler
and vent, the cutout above the
front cockpit was faired over to
eliminate turbulence and improve
performance, the front cockpit
was faired over (but can be converted in only 20 minutes), modern brakes were installed, the panel
re-worked, the list goes on and on.
With all of those changes in
mind, I asked what remained of the
original Stearman. The fuselage
and landing gear are original, The
engine, cowling, and prop from a
BT-13 that Chuck Sr. installed almost 60 years ago are intact. We
sent the engine down to Tulsa Aircraft Engines. The teardown report
showed the engine to be in excellent shapebut in keeping with
wanting the very best, it is now
zero since major overhaul.
With all of the modifications
over the years and the new modifications during the restoration,
I asked about the aircraft paperwork and documentation. Roy
pulled out the file. All logbooks


are complete, he said. The aircraft

has only 1,212 hours total time
since new, and as of this writing,
12 hours since restoration. Just
look at these logs. They read like a
whos who of Minnesota aircraft
luminaries. The names include
Bolduc, Falmouth, Ken Maxwell,
Doyle, Wiplinger, Shanks, DePonti,
Lysdale, Mohr, (and Redman).
Time and time again, we were told
You cant do that! by various suppliersit hadnt been done on a
Stearman before.
Time and again, RARE Aircraft
had to spend the time (and time
is money) to work through the approval process. Roy noted that as
the project progressed, the FAA actually became more and more accommodating. It seemed that they
wanted this aircraft restoration accomplished, too! The FAA engaged
in many inspections, discussions,
and suggestions. Ask any aircraft
restorerhaving the FAA sign off
on approvals can be the hardest
part of accomplishing a restoration. If a restorer has done something before, the FAA feels better
about the documentation and proceduresomething to think about
when selecting a restoration shop.
I asked who made the first postrestoration flightand Chuck replied, There is no way that I was
going to let anyone else do it! He
described RARE Aircrafts procedures for the first flight, including

an initial safety briefing. We had

Google Earth projections of the
airport, so if we had a problem anywhere around the airport, we already knew where we were going
to go. We had Ben Redman flying
chase in the Decathlon. We had a
prescribed flight check card and
procedure. We had people alongside the runway with fire extinguishers. We even had our ground
people practice getting me out of
the aircraft. Now thats prepared!
Chuck said that the first f light
came off without a hit ch. Everything, and I mean everything
worked perfectly, he exclaimed.
There wasnt one thing in the aircraft that didnt work. The aircraft
was in perfect trim. It stalled at the
correct speed and straight ahead. I
couldnt be happier!
And thats exactly what Chuck
Doyle wantedand what RARE
Aircraft delivered!
Jim Hanson is the longtime FBO
at Albert Lea, Minnesota. He has
50 years and 30,000 hours in t he
business, has flown 312 different
types of aircraft, and has flown to
78 countries around the world. Jim
is correct in that most of his stories
do not follow their original goal, but
that hasnt stopped him from writing
them! If you would like to guide Jim
back on track, you can contact him at
his airport office, 507-373-0608, or

VintageJan2013.indd 37


12/13/12 12:00 PM

A Long






VintageJan2013.indd 38

12/13/12 11:40 AM

Full circle Buhl

Buhl Heritage
Buhl Aircraft Company was cofounded by Detroit businessman
Lawrence Buhl and aircraft designer
Alfred Verville in 1925. (In 1927,
Verville departed the company and
Etienne Dormoy became designer
and engineer.)
The Buhl family of Detroit had
been well-known since the 1880s for
their numerous and diverse business
enterprises, including a large wholesale hardware company and the Buhl
Stamping Company, which manufactured tubular lanterns and metal
parts for milk cans (if you have an
old milk can, look under the handle
for the Buhl name).
The Buhls also made their mark in
Fuselage mounted on the
homemade rotating tool, inside
the paint booth in Bowmans
hangar at Y65. May 2010.

The interior being installed at



Buhl Manufacturers Number Two

Eight mailed this date. Clarence M.
Flying away from the factory,
NC5860 immediately assumed an
informal role of national ambassador for Buhl Aircraft Company, and
also for general aviation, when it
participated in the 1928 National Air
Tour for the Edsel B. Ford Reliability
Trophy. Buhls confident and experienced pilot, Louis Meister, was accompanied by Harry Dunn, and they
finished the tour in 10th place. One
leg of their route may even have had
them flying within sight of Oshkosh,
Wisconsin, where 84 years later, several generations of the Buhl family
would be proudly representing the
Buhl Aircraft Company, right alongside a freshly restored NC5860.

Taken in August 2003, this photo

shows extensive repair being done
to the wings.


A Silver-Age Sesquiplane Circles

Back to the Buhl Family
One of the special delights this
year in the Vintage area was a gleaming black-and-ivor y 1928 B uhl
Airsedan. Proudly displayed in front
of the Red Barn, it simply exuded a
stately air of elegance. The Buhl attracted hundreds of admirers, and
the judges awarded it Silver Age
(1928-1936) Runner-Up. Even in its
heyday, this sesquiplane was a rare
sight, since there were fewer than a
dozen CA-3C models built in 1928
and 1929 at the Buhl manufacturing
plant in Marysville, Michigan.
When M.A. Boggs inspected this
prototype airplane on June 14 and
15, 1928, his overall pleasure with
what he saw was reflected in his remark, new type new plane excellent. Seems to be a ver y nice
ship,yet he did observe that the
pilot and passenger seats were not
comfortable, and the throttle controls were to be perfected. Not satisfactory at present.
With those items addressed,
Herbert Hughes, the vice president and general manager for Buhl
Aircraft Company, sent a letter to the
Aeronautics Branch in Washington,
D.C., on June 21, 1928: Your
Mr. Boggs inspected this ship last
Saturday and mailed in his report. As
this ship is going in the Ford Tour, we
are very anxious to have the tag and
the license plate sent to us as soon as
possible and anything that you can
do to expedite the sending of these to
us will be greatly appreciated.
T he Aeronautics Branch responded on June 27 (just days before the Air Tour commenced):
License card and plate N C dash
Five Eight Six Naught assigned


Sparky Barnes Sargent

Work is progressing on the fuselage. May 2003.



VintageJan2013.indd 39


12/13/12 11:41 AM


the fledgling aircraft industry of the

1920s, when their company made
notable history in March 1927, by
receiving the ver y first CAA approved type certificate (ATC No. 1)
for their Buhl-Verville Airster. The
following year, the Buhl Airsedan
was manufactured under ATC No.
46. By then, the company had moved
to Marysville, Michigan. The company stayed in business until 1933.
Lawrence Buhls son, Larry, was
born in 1934, and was amiably sharing a little about his family s ties
to aviation during EAA AirVenture
Oshkosh 2012. I flew when I was in
my 20s for a couple of years, and then
after my father died, I took over the
family real estate business in Detroit
and really had nowhere to fly, recalls
Buhl, elaborating, so that part of my
life disappeared, but Ive always been
interested in aircraft. My eldest son,

Larry, always loved aircraft, and as

a matter of fact, I drove him to his
first flying lesson in Harbor Springs,
Michigan, when he was 14 years old.
Hes been flying ever since. It was my
father who owned the Buhl Aircraft
Company in Marysville, Michigan.
I know that he and Edsel Ford were
very close friends, and my father
also raced boats on the Detroit River.
I do know that Edsel Ford built an
engine for my fathers race boat, and
I think that was about the same time
that Ford was getting back into aviation. I just suspect that the two of
them were talking one day, and Ford
probably said to my father, Larry,
this is something that might be fun,
why dont you get your fingers in the
pie? And he did.
Buhls present-day quest to preserve and pay tribute to his fathers
aircraft manufacturing history was
inspired by a gift from one
of his sons. My eldest
son, Larry, found a 1931
LA-1 Buhl Bull Pup that
had been restored [by Ken
Hetge] in California, and
he gave it to me as a gift,
says Buhl with a chuckle,
elaborating that kind of
started this whole thing!
We have a Buhl Bull Pup
Je Passeno ies the Buhls 1931 LA-1 Buhl
now, so wouldnt it be fun
Bull Pup.

to see if we can get a Buhl Airsedan?

We found out about this one when
the executor of Ed Marquarts estate
contacted our family. We had our
friend and airplane builder, Andy
Bowman, go to Ohio and take a
look at it, and we decided to finish
the restoration that Marquart had
started. It took a little over a year to
complete the sale, and then the project was shipped north to Andys hangar at Indian River airport. It took
two years to complete, but we also
changed in midstream from just recreating something and putting it in
a museum, to having it flyable. That
made a big difference, and its been
fun having it.
Restoration Begins in Riverside
Ed Marquar t of R iverside,
California, bought NC5680 around
1967, and he and his friends hauled
it on an open trailer to the Flabob
Airport, where it remained in storage for several decades. Marquart was
very well-known in the experimental aviation world for his work with
Ray Stits, his involvement with EAA
Chapter 1 at Flabob, and his own aircraft designs, including the Marquart
Charger biplane. In the mid-1990s,
Ed began diligently applying his talents and skills to the sesquiplanes
restoration, submitting FAA Form
337s (Major Repair and Alteration)
of his work for at least six years in a
row. He thoroughly described and illustrated his progress through these
hand-completed records, unknowingly creating a legacy of workmanship for someone else to complete
years later. Throughout those years,
Marquart had assistance from many
friends, including the late Russ
Earnhart and Jack Gentry, Janice
Johnson (fabric covering and painting), Larry Gudde (machinist), and
Keith Folkerts (photographer).
By March 1995, he submitted a
337 for the removal of the original


VintageJan2013.indd 40

12/13/12 11:41 AM

tailskid assembly (which had been

converted to a 4-by-8 wheel) and
shock cord mounting tubes, which
he replaced with a shock strut and
tailwheel assembly from a Cessna
UC78, adding a 4130 support structure. He also replaced the forward
and aft section of the fuselage with
new 4130 tubing, leaving the midsection with its wing and landing
gear fittings original.
A year later, he was steadily progressing, and submitted a 337 with
detailed information regarding repairs to the left and right lower wings:
Replaced laminated spruce tip bow
and birch plywood skins, top and bottom, replaced spruce trailing edges,
replaced aluminum leading edges,
box assembly of three spruce ribs and
birch plywood skin top and bottom,
replaced three ribs on right wing.
In March 1997, Marquart filed
yet another 337 with hand drawings of additional wing repair, depicting that 13 of the le ft wings
leading edge ribs and four main ribs
were replaced. On the right wing,
he replaced four leading edge ribs,
two main ribs, and three inboard
ribs aft of the fuel tank location. He
also replaced plywood adjacent to
the front and rear spars at the wingtips and wingroots. Additionally, he
submitted a neatly detailed outline
and drawings depicting his proposed installation of the wheels and
brakes, though the work was not accomplished at that time.
The next month, he submitted
drawings and calculations for changing the engine mount length, reflecting a 27-pound decrease in weight
from the original Wright J-5 to the
current Lycoming R-680. He used a
mounting ring from a Stearman PT13 with vibration isolators, and indicated his plans to use a stainless
steel firewall and a PT-13 oil tank (or
comparable), along with a Hamilton
Standard propeller.

Of all the Airsedans

striking features, perhaps
the most unusual is its
circular-shaped tubing
support structure throughout the interior of the
cabin. A glance inside reveals
a marvelous repetition of
geometric circles, with the one
closest to the windshield being
inverted. Another eye-catching
feature of the Airsedan is its
lower tapered wing, which is
less than half the size of the
upper wing. Bowman reflects that
the sesquiwing provides the structural
integrity and strength of a biplane, without so much
drag. It does give some lift; every rib in that wing
is unique because of the way it tapers.

Marquart was
moving r ig ht
along by March
1998, when he
submitted a
337 depicting
the installation
of a 1/8-inch
Plexiglas skylight above the
cabin area, accomplished by
the addition of
small tabs on
the tubing substructure. A
year later, his
recorded paperwork stated that
hed re-covered
the wings, ailerons, vertical fin, rudder, one stabilizer, and both elevators
using the Poly-Fiber process.
In March 2004, another 337 indicated that the complete aircraft was
covered in Poly-Fiber. Marquart con-

tinued working steadily on the Buhl

Airsedan project until just a couple of
weeks before he passed away on July
4, 2007. The project was hauled from
Riverside and placed in the care of his
relatives in Ohio.

Buhl Airsedan Model CA-3C Specifications


One pilot, two passengers


Wright Whirlwind J-5, 220 hp


Upper 36 feet, Lower 20 feet 10 inches

Wing chord

Upper 72 inches, Lower tapered 35 inches

Wing area

240 square feet


28 feet


8 feet

Empty weight

1,760 pounds

Useful load

1,440 pounds


660 pounds

Gross weight

3,200 pounds


134 mph max, 112 mph cruise, 47 mph landing


800 fpm


16,000 feet

Fuel capacity

45-gallon tank in each upper wing root


5 gallons


840 miles



Derived from Joseph Juptners U.S. Civil Aircraft, Volume 1, and NC5860s Aircraft

VintageJan2013.indd 41


12/13/12 11:41 AM

The Buhls Pass the Baton

to Bowman
Buhl shares that he spearheaded
the Airsedan project and provided the
funding, as well as supervising the
restoration work. Ive known Andy
Bowman for years; hes built his own
planes, and when the Buhl Bull Pup
was delivered by trailer to Harbor
Springs, he was probably the first one
there as they were unloading itwith
his tongue hanging out! says Buhl
with a chuckle, adding, he actually
said, if you ever find anything else and
want some help, let me know. That was
before we even found the Airsedan, so
when we discovered it was for sale, I
knew I had somebody who could work
on it. Best of all, it could be done in my
own town, where I could keep watch
on whats happening. That made it a
lot more fun for me, and Andy did a
beautiful job on it!
In 2009, when the project arrived
at Indian River (Y65), Michigan,
Bowman was a bit dismayed when
he found some damage on the wings.

All four wings had been covered

and painted, but there was shipping
damage on the wing leading edges
which was not fun to fix, explains
Bowman, and a lot of the rib stitching knots were scuffed on the lower
wings and the tail. So Larry and I decided it would be easier to repaint the
wings. The fuselage was covered and
primed, but we felt it was best to strip
the primer and then start fresh. Jon
Goldenbaum and the employees of
Consolidated Aircraft Coatings were
very helpful and supportive of my
many questions as I learned to work
with Ranthane, their final finish.
When Bowman discovered that
there was a 1929 Buhl Sport Airsedan
at Greg Herricks private Golden
Wings Flying Museum in Minnesota,
he says he went there to take photos
and get ideas for the trim around the
door. Greg also kindly shared the logo
artwork with us; then Larry and his
wife, Fay, picked this one which was
on a great 1920s advertisement.
Bowman completed myriad detailed restoration chores throughout

the course of two years, including

installing new windows, completing the interior which Marquart had
started, and replacing the instrument panel. Ed made the panel with
a cutout for a radio stack, because
he planned to fly it regularly in the
California environment, and he also
planned a trip to Oshkosh, explains
Bowman, but I switched it over to
more original. I had the instruments
overhauled, and theyre pretty much
original to the era. The altimeter is
part of a Navy bombsight.
The pine wood trim around the
Buhls doors and windows were made
by Dick Babcock, a boat-builder
friend of Bowmans, and another
friend from Cheboygan, Jeff Passeno,
made the threaded grease seals for
the wheels and small spinnings for
the hub caps.
Jim Mynning (of air show fame)
provided invaluable help with many
aspects of the restoration, including
accomplishing work on the wheels
and brakes, having the fuel tanks
welded, and working on the Lycoming


VintageJan2013.indd 42

12/13/12 11:41 AM

arent too bad, but you cant really

use the brakes, because youd have
to take your feet off the rudder bar
to reach them. Jeff and I cruised 95
mph coming over to Oshkosh, and
it was a real pretty flight.


R-680 engine. The engine came off

a Stearman that Jim had traded for,
and it had the front exhaust collector. Jim did a top overhaul on
the Lycoming, working with Earl
Kirchoff of Topinabee, Michigan,
shares Bowman, adding, Earl was
also the IA who worked with me. The
pretty Ham-Standard prop we got
with the project was too bigit looks
nice for display, but we fly it with a
shorter prop that came off Jims 1929
Stinson. The carburetor also came
off his airplanewe had a carburetor overhauled, but the throttle control linkage was not smooth, so Jim
loaned us his.
When it came time to hang the
wings, Bowman enlisted Passenos assistance again. Jeff was my primary
helper, and teacher, during the last
phases of the restoration, shares
Bowman, adding, He has built and
restored several planes, as well as
designing and building an antiquelooking biplane. He was the lead on
the wing installation and rigging for
the Buhl; I was the gofer.

Preserving the
Buhl Family Legacy
Now that the 1931 LA-1 Bull Pup
has been aloft twice (flown by Jeff
Passeno), and the 1928 Airsedan
made a safe and successful debut at
AirVenture, the Buhl familys goal
for both planes will be preservation.
Flying the Airsedan
When asked what it s like to
October 12, 2011, was a beautiful now own two of the Buhl Aircraft
blue-sky day, with brilliant autumn Companys airplanes, Buhl smiles
colors in full array on the hillsides and reflects, it makes me wonder,
adjacent to the Pellston airport in at 77 years old, why I didnt think
Michigan. Members of the B uhl of this a lot sooner. I mean, you
family and those who worked to know, why not? It just never even
complete the restoration gath- occurred to meit took my chilered in anticipation of NC5860s dren to say, Hey, Dad, lets get on
first flight since 1953. Pilot Paul this! Its been a wonderful expeFullerton was accompanied by Jeff rience. Ive just completed a 50Passeno, who served as radio op- by-60 building on my property in
erator/passenger/movable ballast. Harbor Springs, and were going
They taxied to the end of Runway to call it the Buhl Sons Museum.
23, and the resplendent sesqui- Were going to retire both planes
plane lifted off about 10:30 a.m. and put them in there, along with
and climbed into the sunny sky for the first car my son, Robbie, raced
a 25-minute flight.
in the Indy 500. Well also add a
Fullerton, who owns and f lies few things from the Buhl Stamping
a Cessna 195, c ommente d to Companyitll be nice.
Bowman afterward that hed bring
Buhl and Bowman especially
her down on the grass next time, enjoyed being able to share the
even though the gear and wheels Airsedan with aviation enthusiasts
held up fine on the pavement. The during AirVenture 2012. I loved
Airsedan handled nicely; its coun- meeting many of Ed Marquarts
terbalanced ailerons, and the eleva- friends at the show, declares
tors, are operated by push-pull rods, Bowman, with his gregarious smile,
which facilitate smooth and fluid adding, I learned a lot more about
movement of the flight controls.
the plane, and the Vintage Aircraft
It flew real nice the very first Association. I was amazed at the
timeits just wonderful, reflects number of people who thanked me
Fullerton, elaborating, its not a and the Buhls for bringing the plane
STOL aircraft or anything, but in its to the show. Ive never thought to
day, this was a very nice aircraft say those words to an exhibitor, but
especially with its enclosed cabin for I will use them often at future gaththe pilot and passengers. Landings erings of airplanes.

VintageJan2013.indd 43


12/13/12 11:42 AM

Jams D. Dole



Winners Goebel and Jensen

The disastrous 1927 Dole Air Derby

Mark Carls on


lying in small air planes,

cross-country pilots experience a profound sense of
the nearness of the world

outside. They hear the engines and

feel the airstream on the windshield. Looking below the wings a
flier sees roads, rail lines, towns,

airfields, and other familiar landmarks to guide him. This is very

different from what airline passengers sense, sealed into a large


VintageJan2013.indd 44

12/13/12 11:42 AM

Even as Lindbergh was making

speeches and being paraded
around Europe, a man in
Honolulu, Hawaii, was already
thinking of a way to generate
interest in another
trans-oceanic ight.

aluminum and plastic tube that

isolates them from the hostile and
vast environment beyond.
But when a small plane leaves
the land behind and points its nose
out over the ocean it is another
matter. Today with GPS and instant global communication, its almost impossible to get lost or lose
contact with civilization.
Eight-five years ago, when woodand-fabric planes were common,
the blue ocean far below might just
as easily have been another planet.
For thousands of miles there were
no roads or rail lines to follow. A pilot flying the ocean was as alone as
any human could possibly be.
Charles Lindberghs brave goal
of flying the Atlantic alone was one
of the most daring feats in history.
To be fair, he wasnt the only one to
attempt the flight. But the danger
that accompanied such an attempt
was driven home by the deaths of

six men who tried the same thing.

Two experienced French pilots,
Charles Nungesser and Francois
Coli, were both aces in the World
War I. Even with a suitable airplane
and extensive preparation, the
flight ended with their disappearance somewhere over the 1,800
miles of ocean between Ireland and
Newfoundland. To this day their
loss remains a mystery.
The moment Lindbergh touched
down on the grass field of Le Bourget, Paris, on the nig ht of May
21, 1927, the world changed forever. For the first time in history,
the continents of the Old and New
Worlds had been joined by the
wings of an airplane.
Even as Lindbergh was making
speeches and being paraded around
Europe, a man in Honolulu, Hawaii,
was already thinking of a way to
generate interest in another transoceanic flight. His name was James

D. Dole, the pineapple mogul. He

had been profoundly impressed by
Lindberghs feat. Dole saw the incredible marketing potential in a
similar flight over the Pacific.
Lindbergh, however, had intended the New York to Paris flight
to promote aviation, not to become
a celebrity. He had worked f or
months to prepare for the flight,
taking every precaution to assure
his safety and success. To him it was
not a stunt but a carefully planned
long-distance flight. He had little
experience with over-water flying
and knew it was dangerous.
The Summer of Eagles
With typical zest, American pilots began looking to set other aviation records, to fly to the same fame
and fortune Lindbergh had found.
The summer of 1927 became known
as the summer of eagles.
Dole put up a prize of $25,000,
the equal of the or iginal 1919
Ortieg Prize for a New York to
Paris flight, for the first plane to fly
from the continental U.S. to Honolulu. Dole sent the story out onto
the Associated Press wire on May
25, only four days after Lindbergh
had landed in Paris.
The man who made pineapples
famous in the United States was a
member of the National Aeronautic Association. Dole knew the dangers of such a flight and approached
the Honolulu chapter to establish
race details and rules. Chapter President Clarence H. Cooke worked
with Navy Cmdr. H.B. McComb of
Pearl Harbor and Army Capt. Lowell
H. Smith from Wheeler Army Airfield. The Dole Air Derby would begin in Oakland, California, on the
east shore of San Francisco Bay. The
landing was to be at W heeler on
Oahu. Dole hoped Lindbergh himself would take the bait and enter
the competition. Takeoff was schedVINTAGE AIRPLANE

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12/13/12 11:42 AM

uled for Saturday, August 12.

But even before the race had begun, two Army Air Corps lieutenants named Lester Maitland and
Albert Hegenberger had already
flown an Atlantic Fokker C-3 Trimotor from Oakland to Wheeler
on June 25. They made the flight
in just over 25 hours. The timing
of the flight was purely coincidental, having been planned for several months. This only made Dole
more eager to promote his air race.
Unlike New York hotel owner
Raymond Ortieg, Dole was offering a $10,000 prize to the runnerup. Drawn by the lure of a big cash
prize and instant fame, pilots from
all over the country besieged the
committee with their intent to enter the competition. Thirty-three
applications were received and reviewed by Cookes committee. One
of the early entrants was Frank
Clarke, a noted Hollywood stunt
pilot, whose work would include
Howard Hughes famous Hells Angels in 1930. His plane was an International F-17W named Miss
Hollydale. Famed cowboy star Hoot
Gibson sponsored Pride of L os
Angeles, another unusual Catron
& Fisk CF-10 triplane. Gibsons
iconic face was painted on the side
of the plane. The pilots were James
L. Griffin and Ted Lundgren.
Other entrants were itinerate
barnstormers or exhibition fliers,
and the money was a huge temptation. To Doles disappointment,
Lindbergh was not among them. After returning to the U.S., The Lone
Eagle was far too busy promoting
aviation and flying the silver Ryan
NYP to every one of the 48 states.

A Hop, Skip, and a Big Jump

Only a few of the applicants
had any experience with long ,
over-water flying.
The prevailing mood was, If a

Midwesterner like Lindy can do

it, so can I. Few of the entrants
seemed to realize or pay heed to
the danger. Oakland was 2,400
miles from Hawaii, far t o the
southwest. The Hawaiian Islands
were less than 300 miles across.
Even a slight compass deviation at
that distance would put them hundreds of miles off course.
In 1927 aircraft instruments were
simple and even primitive. It would
be another two years before aviation
pioneer Jimmy Doolittle would help
to develop the artificial horizon and
directional gyroscope that greatly
aided all-weather and night flying.
The Aeronautics Branch of the
Bureau of Commerce, the forerunner of the FAA, knew the flight was
dangerous and sent inspector Walter Parkins to work with the Dole
committee. Navy Lt. H.T. Wyatt
was ordered by the 12th Naval District at Mare Island in Vallejo, California, to oversee the inspection of
aircraft intending to enter the Dole
Air Derby. The 33 original applicants were quickly whittled down
to less than half that number.
One was disqualified because
its magnetic compass was 45 degrees off true. The plane would have
flown off to the northwest and disappeared. Far from being grateful
for having their lives saved, the fliers were angry at being cut. The race
officials held a drawing on August 8
to determine the order of takeoff.
Of the 15 qualifying entrants,
two withdrew. Then The Angel of
Los Angeles crashed on a trial flight.
On August 10, Pride of Los Angeles,
bearing the face of Hoot Gibson,
but without him on board, crashed
in San Francisco Bay. Griffin, Lundgren, and mechanic Lawrence Weill
were able to swim to shore.
Then another was cut for having an unqualified navigator.
Ten remained.

Lieutenant Wyatt, feeling the entrants needed more time to prepare

told the press, In the interest of
aviation and safety, this race should
not be held tomorrow. It would be
suicidal. Takeoff was re-scheduled
for noon on Tuesday, August 16.
On the 11th, a Br itish pilot
named Arthur Rogers took his
unique Bryan Taylor monoplane up
for a test flight. The radical design
had twin booms and two BristolLucifer engines set fore and aft on
a central fuselage, one pushing and
one tractor. As onlookers watched
the plane suddenly went into an uncontrolled spin and fell. Rogers was
able to bail out, but his parachute
failed to open and he was killed.
The City of Peoria was disqualified
just a day before the race because
it couldnt carry the 450 gallons of
fuel necessary to reach Hawaii.
The eight remaining aircraft
were an eclectic bunch. Most were
high-wing monoplanes, while a few
were biplanes.
Hawaiis favorite was Aloha, a
Breese-Wilde Model monoplane,
flown by Martin Jensen with Paul
Schluter as navigator. Schluter was
not experienced in aerial navigation, having only been on ships. This
would be his first time in an airplane.
Jensen, an Oahu resident, had
raised the money for the plane
with his wifes help. She told me,
Jensen said to the press prior to
takeoff, that if I flopped into the
ocean, she was going to row out
and hit me in the head with an oar.
So I guess Id better make it.
Hed christened Aloha with a
bottle of water from Waikiki Beach.
A n o t h e r B re e s e - W i l d e w a s
named the Pabco Pacific Flyer. The
lone pilot was Maj. Livingston Irving, an ace in World War I.
Two reliable Travel Air 5000s
were entered. One was Oklahoma,
flown by Bennett Griffin (no rela-


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tion to the pilot of Pride of Los Angeles) and Al Henley.

T he second Travel A ir was
Woolaroc, with Art Goebel, another
Hollywood stunt pilot, and Bill Davis Jr. navigating. Goebel had used
his own money and borrowed from
friends to buy the Travel Air, but was
unable to make the last payment.
Bennett Griffin suggested Goebel
contact wealthy rancher Frank Phillips. Phillips, who was already sponsoring Oklahoma, agreed to make
the final payment if Goebel named
the plane after his ranch lodge. The
name Woolaroc is a combination of
the words wood, lakes, and rocks.
Goebels plane was one of only two
to carry a two-way radio.
A new prototype Lockheed Vega
Model 1, soon to become famous
with Wiley Post and Amelia Earhart, was named Golden Eagle.
Jack Frost piloted the Vega while
Gordon Scott navigated. Eagle was
painted bright gold, making her
easily the most visible of the entrants. It had been purchased by
the San Francisco Examiner. With
a long over-water flight in mind,
the Vega had been equipped with
several modifications. Fuel could be
dumped from the tanks, increasing
buoyancy. In addition, Scott could
use a compressed air tank to inflate
rubber cells inside the wings. The
fuselage and wings were designed
to be as watertight as possible,
while a five-man life raft complete
with sail, oars, compass, and flare
pistol was ready for use.
The remaining all-metal aircraft
was El Encanto, a Goddard Special, flown by her designer, Norman Goddard and navigator Ken
Hawkins. This advanced plane was
favored to win by members of the
aviation community. Goddard and
Hawkins were both Navy officers.
Dallas Spirit, flown by Bill Erwin,
was a Swallow Monoplane. H er

Miss Hollydale


Pabco Pacic Flyer

Pride of Los Angles


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Aloha in Hawaii

Dallas Spirit

wasnt concerned (or more likely,

aware) of the d angers, was instantly the darling of the press as
she paraded about in her specially
tailored khaki flight suit emblazoned with admirers fraternity
pins as though they were military
medals. Across her chest was a Sam
Browne belt, and she wore high
leather boots. Doran intended to
go into acting after the flight. She
was the cutest little thing, said a
woman who met Doran.
The Buhl was painted red, white,
and blue. As a passenger, Doran
was to ride in a separate compartment behind the cockpit. A hole
was cut into the forward wooden
bulkhead for her to communicate
with Pedlar and Knope with a small
megaphone. She sat on an inf latable rubber cushion for comfort.
Under it was a crude toilet.
Nearly every aircraft was powered by the faithful and now famous Wright J5C W hirlwind
radial engine, the one that had
powered Lindberghs Ryan.

From Sea to Shining Sea

Miss Doran
navigator was Alvin Eichwaldt.
One of the most intriguing entrants was the Miss Doran, a Buhl
CA-5 Air Sedan biplane piloted by
John Augie Pedlar. Pedlar always
flew with his trademark knickerbockers and a straw hat. The plane
had run into engine trouble on the
flight from Michigan and needed
repairs. Pedlar and his original navigator, Manley Lawling, worked on

the plane in Long Beach and took

off for Oakland. Lawlings navigational skills didnt impress Pedlar,
and he was replaced by Vilas Knope.
But the male pilots were secondary to their passenger, a pretty,
5-foot-4-inch 22-year old fifthgrade teacher named Mildr ed
Doran from Flint, Michigan. The
plane was purchased by a wealthy
Flint businessman. Doran, who

One thing Lindberg h didnt

have was maritime and naval support. The committee arranged for a
dozen ships en route between California and Hawaii, including the
S.S. Wilhelmina, 1,400 miles out
of San Francisco, to keep watch for
the airplanes.
In addition, the U.S. Pacific Fleet,
still based in San Diego was put on
standby alert. This included the first
American aircraft carrier USS Langley (CV-1). Wheeler Field had a radio beacon, but only Golden Eagle
and Woolaroc could make use of it.
On the morning of the race, the
eight planes and crews waited on
the hard-packed dirt of the Oakland Airport for their turn. Arranged in a semicircle, they were
to roll out one at a time. T here


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was a lot of bravado and bragging.

When I pass the halfway mark,
said Bill Erwin of Dallas Spirit, Im
going to listen for the rustling of
grass skirts in the breeze and use it
as a beacon to guide me in.
At least 100,000 spectators and
dignitaries were gathered to watch
the start of the Dole Derby. At exactly 12:00, Ernie Smith, the official starter, fired his pistol and
Bennett Griffin advanced the throttle of the blue and yellow Oklahoma
and rolled down the bumpy dir t
runway. The plane was off at 12:01.
The heavily laden Travel Air finally
lifted off and banked west over San
Francisco Bay.
The next plane at 12:03 was
Goddards El Encanto. It began to
roll down the runway. But it suddenly veered off the str ip and
tipped over, crushing the left wing.
Goddard and Hawkins were able to
climb out, shaken but unhurt.
At 12:11 Maj. Livingston Irving
pulled his bright orange BreeseWilde monoplane, Pabco Pacific
Flyer, just a few feet off the runway, but it failed to rise and landed
heavily in a marsh at the end of the
runway. Undeterred, Livingston
had ground crewmen pull him out
so he could try again after the last
entrant had taken off.
But the derby had star ted off
badly. Two of the three starting
planes had crashed.
The crowd kept cheering on the
entrants, but their enthusi asm
was tempered by the fear of seeing
more crashes.
Jack Frost coaxed the gleaming
Vega, Golden Eagle, into the air at
12:31 and headed out to sea.
At 12:33 Miss Doran, with the
sole woman contender aboard in
her tiny cabin followed Frost into
the warm afternoon sky. Martin
Jensen threw Hawaiian leis out the
window as the Travel Air, Aloha,

took to the air. A few minutes later

Woolaroc with Art Goebel at the
stick joined the procession.
The last plane in the lineup
was the green and silver Dallas
Spirit, which took off uneventfully at 12:37.
Then Livingston in Pabco Pacific
Flyer was ready after repairs and
headed down the runway. His second attempt reached 70 feet, and
then the plane nosed over and
crashed. Livingston too survived.
A short time later the sound of engines had died down and the spectators began to gather up their things
to go home and wait for news.
But suddenly the sound of a
rough-running engine was heard
to the west. A mechanic frowned.
That engine doesnt sound right.
In a minute the crowd saw the
gaily painted Miss Doran approach
the field and land. P edlar and
Knope ran around to the balky engine and made some adjustments.
Mildred Doran, in her faux aviators
clothing, watched with some trepidation. When Pedlar suggested she
might want to remain behind, she
smiled and said, Im going.
With that, Pedlar and Knope
lifted off again and headed into the
afternoon sun.
Then Oklahoma, with a tear in
the fuselage, returned for repairs.
Shortly after, the last plane t o
take off, Bill Erwins Dallas Spirit
returned with control trouble. It
would be a day before they could
re-enter the race.

On Their Way
Four planes were in the air, separated by several miles, headed
southwest for the tiny and distant
Hawaiian Islands.
At an average altitude of 1,200
feet the fragile planes f lew ever
westward, eating up the miles.
From that height the pilots were

able to see for 60 or 70 miles in

all directions in clear weather.
Woolaroc, the only plane to carry a
radio, sent regular reports of their
location, provided by navigator Bill
Davis. All through the afternoon,
evening, and night of August 16
the nation waited for news.
R u m o r s b e g a n to c i rc u l a te
among coffee shops and workplaces from Hawaii to New York.
One plane had been spotted approaching Hawaii or another had
been reported down at sea. No
one really knew anything, but that
didnt stop the speculation.
On the morning of August 17
the first solid report came in from
Woolaroc. Art Goebel sighted the
S.S. Wilhelmina, westbound 1,500
miles from San Francisco and radioed it for a navigational fix, confirming his position. At Wheeler
Army Airfield north of Honolulu,
nearly 25,000 spectators, a huge
number for the island, began to
gather to watch the winner land.
At 10:00 a.m. a report came in
from a Hawaii listening station
that Davis estimated they would
be over the island by 12:30. B ut
just after noon, the droning sound
of aircraft engines thrummed in
the warm air. People pointed at a
monoplane, escorted by Navy and
Army pursuit planes headed in for
a landing. The assembled crowd
cheered as Ar t Goebel stopped
the Woolaroc with 26 hours and
17 minutes in the air. After cutting the engine, Goebel and Davis
emerged, stiff and woozy from the
long flight. Hawaiian girls placed
leis around their necks and soldiers fired a salute. Goebel looked
around. How many made it in before me?
He was astonished to hear that
Woolaroc was the winner. No other
planes had been heard from in the
last 25 hours. Knowing he had

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12/13/12 11:43 AM

Martin Jensen with his wife.

been behind Oklahoma, Golden Ea- sea, the planes would f loat until
gle, Miss Doran, and Aloha, Goebel rescuers reached them. On Thursbegan to worry. At least one of the day a massive sea and air search
leading planes should have landed began along the 2,400 miles bealready or been seen. He and Da- tween Hawaii and California. Since
vis had seen no other aircraft on there was no way to know when or
their lone journey over the ocean. where they had gone down, every
Goebel said they had maintained mile had to be scoured for wreckan altitude of more than 6,000 age. More than 40 Navy ships, infeet because a cloud layer at about cluding the USS Langley were put
1,000-2,000 feet had obscured on the search. Merchant ships were
their view of the ocean. Any of the asked to look for any sign of the
other planes flying at that altitude missing planes. A $40,000 reward,
would have had difficulty seeing possibly offered by Dole himself,
ships or land.
was posted for information leading
Navigator Davis said he finally to the rescue of the downed fliers.
sighted a faint shadow, the island
of Maui, just where I thought it Was This Trip Necessary?
In Flint, Michigan, a rumor cirshould be.
It was nearly 2:00 when an- culated that Miss Doran and her
other plane was spotted, the gaily crew were found. Celebrations
painted Aloha with Martin Jensen were short-lived when it turned
at the controls. He had been in the out to be a false report. The people
air more than 28 hours. Jensen, af- of Flint and Mildred Dorans pupils
ter receiving his lei, explained they went into mourning. More than 59
had been lost. But after wandering years later, the nation would simabout for four hours we found our- ilarly mourn the loss of another
selves and lit off like a blue streak schoolteacher, Christa McAuliffe,
for Wheeler Field. Jensen was re- who died in the explosion of the
united with his wife who hadnt Space Shuttle Challenger.
A subdued James Dole, knowhad to hit him with an oar.
As the afternoon wore on there ing his dream had turned to ashes
was no sig n of the other two arranged for a simple ceremony.
planes. People and race officials be- He handed Art Goebel a check for
gan to fear the worst. Miss Doran $25,000 and Martin Jensen a check
and Golden Eagle were both miss- for $10,000. The race was over.
Even though three men had been
ing. But few were more than concerned. Even if they were down at killed at takeoff, and five more had

Art Goebel
disappeared over the vast Pacific,
Bill Erwin and his navigator, Alvin
Eichwaldt, having effected repairs to
the controls of Dallas Spirit decided
to take off on Friday morning to Hawaii. Friends tried to talk them out
of it, saying the race was over, there
was no hope of prize money. But Erwin was adamant. They had a radio
and could look for survivors on the
way. At just before noon on Friday,
August 19, 1927, Dallas Spirit lifted
off and headed west.
For several hours Erwin reported
all was well. Then as evening approached, a California listening
station heard a shaky call from Eichwaldt. We were in a tailspin but
came out of it okay. We sure were
scared. It was a close call. Bill (Erwin) thought it was all over, but we
came out of it. The lights on the instrument panel went out, and it was
so dark. The signal faded. Then a
few minutes later Eichwaldt called
again. His voice was frantic. We are
in a tailspin! SOS! From that moment on there was only silence.
Ten people had died in the Dole
Air Derby. No trace of the three
missing planes was ever found.
What happened to Golden Eagle and Miss Doran? Speculation
among aviation historians runs the
gamut of engine failure, clogged
fuel lines, faulty controls, and pilot error. But why hadnt any of the
more than half-dozen ships along


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the route seen or heard them?

The Wright Whirlwind was one
of the most reliable radial engines
ever built until the appearance of
the Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp
in 1935. Both missing planes had
J5C Whirlwinds.
The only logical answer is navigational error. Celestial navigation was a reliable way of fixing an
aircrafts position, but juggling a
sextant and trying for an accurate
fix in a small plane is a challenge,
and an error of only a few degrees
would put a plane far off course,
with nothing but empty sea ahead.
At the altitude of 1,200 feet even
the large island of Hawaii could
be missed from 70 miles away. As
Goebel said, there was a cloud layer
up to 2,000 feet for the later part
of their flight.
The margin for error was thin
and fragile, as were the lives of Jack
Frost, Gordon Scott, Bill Erwin, Alvin Eichwaldt, Augie Pedlar, Vilas
Knope and Mildred Doran. Doran
is perhaps the most tragic figure
in the story of the Dole Derby. A
young, pretty schoolteacher who
sought fame and adventure, she
only found a terrifying fall from
the sky to die in a tiny shattered
cabin sinking into the freezing
black water. She had no concept
of how dangerous flying was, even
under ideal conditions.
A Flint girlfriend told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that Mildred
didnt know enough to be afraid.
In a statement replete with grim
irony, Doran, just before takeoff
said she didnt plan to go swimming at Waikiki Beach when she
reached Hawaii. I dont care much
for the water.
The man whom inadvertently
i n s p i re d t h e D o l e A i r D e r b y,
Charles Lindbergh, was the guest
of honor at the official opening of
the Oakland Airport in September.

Mildred Doran
The famed aviator must have harbored some grim thoughts about
the Derby that had begun there a
mere month before.
The summer of eagles was over.
James Dole, after learning the
planes were on their way to Hawaii,
had told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
There is a definite stimulus to commercial aviation on the Pacific in

the Dole Derby. It is my hope and

belief that the achievements of the
trans-Pacific fliers today point to
the early establishment of commercial aviation in Hawaii with regular and ample facilities for business
and pleasure transportation.
His flawed dream did come true,
however. Four decades later a Boeing 747 was en route to Honolulu
from Los Angeles. In two adjoining
seats in first class were a retired Air
Force colonel and a retired aeronautical engineer. Looking down
at the wide blue Pacific 35,000 feet
below, they talked about the Dole
Derby. It had been a tragedy, a dangerous stunt with little heed paid
to the risks and all to the payoff.
But it had been the forerunner of
the very plane they were flying in,
basking in comfort and ease.
They were Art Goebel and Martin Jensen, the winners and sole
survivors of the Dole Derby.


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The Vintage Mechanic


Approaching a restoration project:

Where do I start? Part 1
While instructing at Reedley College in the would have to get into the airplane and go fly it began to
aeronautics department, I always had a project going at appear on the horizon. And the closer I got, the larger the
my shop at home. Occasionally I would bring some of my looming test flight became. But lets not get too far ahead
class, who were interested, over for a tour in the after- and return to the focus of breaking the project down into
noon after instruction ended. Thus it would
not be considered a field trip. Invariably
questions and comments would arise, such
as, How do you know where to start? or
The project is overwhelming. I agree that
looking at a pile of old airplane parts is a bit
overwhelming, but one has to look beyond
that. So to identify the task at hand, as related to their questions, take the pieces of
a rare 1929 biplane shown in Illustration
1 and turn it into a fine flyable example as
shown in illustration 2.
One problem with a project this size is
Illustration 1
the amount of time (in years) that must be
devoted to reach a conclusion. In this case
the project was started in 1978 and finally
concluded in 1989. There were times when
Illustration 2
I did not work on the ship for six months,
so the important thought was to end at a
logical stopping point and make necessary
notes to ensure there would be continuity
when resuming.
My answer to the question, How can you
do this? was always that I break the project down into smaller objectives. The overall
objective would be to produce an airworthy
and good flying airplane, and that would be a
long way off in the beginning. But as the project neared completion the realization that I


VintageJan2013.indd 52

12/13/12 11:44 AM

Illustration 3
smaller and more manageable goals.
The first project was to assemble what good pieces I
could scrounge from three airplanes, and Illustration 1
shows the result. There were no drawings, rather a few
photographs in the beginning. Not many people had ever
heard of this type airplane, but I took it to the 1978 Merced, California, antique airplane fly-in and show. The nice
folks there gave me a spot on the ramp where I could display my prize, a 1929 Command-Aire 5C3. I hauled the
ship out of storage where it had been since 1965, loaded
it on my trailer, and hauled it to Merced. With the help of
some local folks, we assembled what was left of the airplane that is displayed in Illustration 3.
My wife, Sandy, and I stayed with the airplane the entire weekend, talking to people who did not know what it
was. Most thought it was a Travel Air or early Stearman,
but finally a man walked up and said, Well, Ill be darned,
I didnt think there were any of these

Illustration 4

left. It is a Command-Aire 5C3. I asked who he was, and

he said Joe Juptner, author of U.S. Civil Aircraft (Illustration 4).
If I answered the question, What is it? once, I answered it 100 times. Many other comments were received,
such as, It will never fly!
Now, it is not my intent here to go into detail of exactly how this airplane was restored, but rather discuss
philosophical points and provide how to details when
the original factory drawings have been lost and there is
nothing to use for reference except the major structural
parts that were available. In lieu of drawings of any kind
available, photographs are the next best things. Since this
airplane had been modified for crop dusting, there was
nothing in the front seat except the rudder pedal mounts.
The control stick and torque tube had been removed, as
was the seat, throttle mount, etc. But what did all this
stuff look like? I learned of a stock mode 5C3 that was
located in Long Island, New York. A NASA test pilot
friend, Tom McMurtry, would make occasional trips
to that area because an experimental pivoting wing
aircraft (the AD-1) was being constructed; he was
the project test pilot. So I asked if he could find the
Command-Aire and take a few photographs for me.
The result is shown in Illustration 5.
These photos were invaluable in showing details
of the rudder pedals, control stick, seat, throttle
mounts, and plywood bulkheads at front and rear
of cockpit. Even the gas tank mounting can be seen.
Those pictures were an absolute prize. NC939E belonged to Joe Erale at the time, and he was kind
enough to allow Tom access for these pictures.

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Illustration 5
Thank you, Joe!
Since a search for the drawings turned up nothing, some serious sketches
needed to be made. There were enough wings and parts to build maybe four or
five sets of wings, so patterns were not a problem. All original factory fittings
were used, as were the brace wires with part numbers still attached in the form
of brass sleeves with p/n stamp. All new wood had to be made. One area that
caused some thinking was how to make the wingbows, as they are not a flat
bend, rather they take the contour of wing ribs. So a flat plywood fixture would
not work. Finally, when disassembling a partial wingbow on a lower wing, I
discovered that the factory built the bows on the wing and did not use a fixture
as I had once thought. I could tell this because the first strip was nailed into the

Illustration 6

spars and each succeeding strip was

nailed into the spars. If the factory
used a fixture this would not have
been the case. Illustration 6 shows
fabricating the wingbows.
The first lamination of spruce is
laid in place. Spar ends have not been
trimmed, and common wood nails are
driven into spar ends to support laminations in proper location.
Glue is spread on both laminations, and then the next spruce strip
is moved into position.
Spring clamps hold laminations
in place until they can be securely
clamped using C-clamps. After glue
has cured, clamps are removed and
the wingbow is formed.
The wingbow is removed, spars tapered to fit bow, and necessary joints
made to attach bow to leading and
trailing edges and ribs.
Now it is time to plane and sand
the bow into final shape. Here a small
hand plane is being used to roughshape the bow. Final shaping is done
with a disc sander and hand sanding.
This yields the final producta perfectly shaped wingbow that follows
negative camber of wing ribs.
Tip ribs can now be addedall
that remains is to install birch plywood skin on upper and lower leading
edge ribs. Pretty neat!
I chose to do the upper wings first.

Illustration 7


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Illustration 8
There is no center section, so one wing panel is constructed and almost finished, and then the second wing
is bolted and almost completed. This ensures that the
two wings will fit together upon final assembly. The
lower wings present a different problem in that they
must fit the fuselage and align perfectly because angle
of incidence is set here. Illustration 7 shows my father,
Leonard, and me around 1984 when we were constructing the lower wings. The lower wing was assembled and
trammed except for the first bay (inboard). The wing
was slipped onto the fuselage fittings and attach bolts
installed. Then the root compression rib was glued in
place, thus ensuring a good fit to fuselage when the
wing was completed.
Constructing wood wings is rather straightforward; however, on occasion there will be a mystery
or two that must be overcome. Such was with the
wingbow on these Command-Aire wings, but once
understood the task was easy.
One of the joys of restoration was this particular airplane because I located the original designer, Albert Vollmecke. Al was very proud of the wings he had designed in
1928 and 1929 when these ships were being constructed
in Little Rock, Arkansas, by Command-Aire Incorporated. Illustration 8 shows Al Vollmecke with an original
Command-Aire wing in 1982. He was 81 years old at this
time and had not seen one of these airplanes for over 50
years. The fuselage can be seen in the background of my
shop along with an Aeronca 7AC I was also restoring.
Finally, when its time to check the fit of new upper
wings, the attach bolts (which are in tension) slip into
place without having to resort to a heavy hammer. Illustration 9 shows the new upper wings but before leading
edge plywood is bonded in place.

Illustration 9


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Straight & Level

continued from page 1

tinue providing opportunities to the membership to

bring your vintage aircraft to AirVenture and enjoy
the grassroots experience we witnessed at the 2012
event. Stand by, because this coming years planned
annual venue will prove to be an exciting time for all
EAA/VAA members.
5. It takes money to make money! The time has
come to take on a serious effort to recruit new members to our organization. We are culling leads from a
variety of data sets to target nonmembers who own
vintage aircraft as well as EAA members who own
vintage aircraft. We have already begun the process
of targeting past VAA members who have not yet renewed, and have seen some limited success in this
venture. We have also recently seen a renewed interest in the VAA Life membership program, so we will
continue promoting that opportunity as well. Regardless of our efforts, its the word of mouth effort that
shows the best return on investment. Thats simply
you sharing information about our organization to
friends and owners of vintage flying machines in your
region in an effort to have them join up with us.
As always, your thoughts and comments regarding the magazine are very much welcome! Please feel
free to drop us a line at and
let us know what you think about our all-new magazine, or anything else that may be on your mind for
that matter. If you desire to communicate directly
with our editor, simply address your e-mail to Jim
Busha at the above address, or send it directly to We would really like to hear your
responses, positive or otherwise, regarding the new
format of the VA magazine.
As always, please do us all the favor of inviting a
friend to join the VAA, and help keep us the strong association we have all enjoyed for so many years.
VAA is about participation: Be a member! Be a volunteer! Be there!
Lets all pull in the same direction for the overall
good of aviation.
Remember, we are better together. Join us and have
it all.

New EAA VAA Members

Fred Barber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Smithville, MO

Charles Bloom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Missoula, MT
Thomas Bryant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oliver Springs, TN
Thomas Egbert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Claremore, OK
John Garnsey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rosenberg, TXs
Scott Gramlich . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Douglaston, NY
Randy Hartman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cedar Rapids, IA
Thomas Hyrkas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Calumet, MI
Richard James . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mooresville, NC
Daniel Jaycox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Delaware, OH
Jeffrey Jensen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oshkosh, WI
Karl Johanson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . San Diego, CA
Bruce Johnson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Valley Center, CA
Karl Enold Jonsson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Askim, Norway
Dennis Keels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Logan, OH
Timothy Kirby . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ocala, FL
Daniel McKinley . . . . . . . . . St-Eugene, Ontario, Canada
Howard Miller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Winston Salem, NC
Jaroslaw Pytka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lublin, Poland
William Rondeau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mount Juliet, TN
Timothy Ryan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Wichita, KS
Richard Seely . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ocean Shores, WA
Fraser Shaw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Templestowe, Australia
Thomas Short . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Huntsville, AL
Rick Simpson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Haymarket, VA

Copyright 2013 by the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association, All rights reserved.
VINTAGE AIRPLANE (USPS 062-750; ISSN 0091-6943) is published and owned exclusively by the EAA Vintage Aircraft Association of the Experimental Aircraft Association and
is published monthly at EAA Aviation Center, 3000 Poberezny Rd., PO Box 3086, Oshkosh,
Wisconsin 549023-3086, e-mail: Membership to Vintage
Aircraft Association, which includes 12 issues of Vintage Airplane magazine, is $42 per year
for EAA members and $52 for non-EAA members. Periodicals Postage paid at Oshkosh,
Wisconsin 54902 and at additional mailing oces. POSTMASTER: Send address changes
to Vintage Airplane, PO Box 3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903-3086. CPC #40612608. FOREIGN
AND APO ADDRESSESPlease allow at least two months for delivery of VINTAGE AIRPLANE
to foreign and APO addresses via surface mail. ADVERTISING Vintage Aircraft Association
does not guarantee or endorse any product oered through the advertising. We invite
constructive criticism and welcome any report of inferior merchandise obtained through
our advertising so that corrective measures can be taken.
EDITORIAL POLICY: Members are encouraged to submit stories and photographs. Policy
opinions expressed in articles are solely those of the authors. Responsibility for accuracy
in reporting rests entirely with the contributor. No remuneration is made. Material
should be sent to: Editor, VINTAGE AIRPLANE, PO Box 3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903-3086.
Phone 920-426-4800.
EAA and EAA SPORT AVIATION, the EAA Logo and Aeronautica are registered
trademarks, trademarks, and service marks of the Experimental Aircraft Association,
Inc. The use of these trademarks and service marks without the permission of the Experimental Aircraft Association, Inc. is strictly prohibited.



VintageJan2013.indd 56

12/13/12 11:45 AM


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


Ron Alexander
118 Huff Daland Circle
Griffin, GA 30223-6827

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

Steve Bender
85 Brush Hill Road
Sherborn, MA 01770
David Bennett
375 Killdeer Ct
Lincoln, CA 95648

Steve Krog
1002 Heather Ln.
Hartford, WI 53027
Robert D. Bob Lumley
1265 South 124th St.
Brookfield, WI 53005

Jerry Brown
4605 Hickory Wood Row
Greenwood, IN 46143
Dave Clark
635 Vestal Lane
Plainfield, IN 46168

Joe Norris
264 Old Oregon Rd.
Oshkosh, WI 54902
S.H. Wes Schmid
2359 Lefeber Avenue
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

Phil Coulson
28415 Springbrook Dr.
Lawton, MI 49065

Tim Popp
60568 Springhaven Ct.
Lawton, MI 49065

Dale A. Gustafson
7724 Shady Hills Dr.
Indianapolis, IN 46278
Susan Dusenbury
1374 Brook Cove Road
Walnut Cove, NC 27052

Robert C. Brauer
9345 S. Hoyne
Chicago, IL 60643

E.E. Buck Hilbert

8102 Leech Rd.
Union, IL 60180

Gene Chase
8555 S. Lewis Ave., #32
Tulsa, OK 74137

Gene Morris
5936 Steve Court
Roanoke, TX 76262

Ronald C. Fritz
15401 Sparta Ave.
Kent City, MI 49330
Charles W. Harris
PO Box 470350
Tulsa, OK 74147

S o m e t h i n g t o b u y, s e l l , o r t r a d e ?

Classified Word Ads: $5.50 per 10 words, 180 words maximum, with boldface
lead-in on first line.
Classified 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.
Advertising Closing Dates: 10th of second month prior to desired issue date (i.e.,
January 10 is the closing date for the March issue). VAA reserves the right to reject any
advertising in conflict with its policies. Rates cover one insertion per issue. Classified ads
are not accepted via phone. Payment must accompany order. Word ads may be sent via
fax (920-426-4828) or e-mail ( using credit card payment (all cards
accepted). Include name on card, complete address, type of card, 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.

WACO, tail-prop AristoCraft, universals
for drive shaft, muers, small parts,
engineering files, drawings. Make
oer. ONeill; 618-594-2681


Lynne Dunn
145 Cloud Top Lane
Mooresville, NC 28115

Vintage Trader

John Turgyan
PO Box 219
New Egypt, NJ 08533

Iowa Takes to the Air Volumes I, II, III

Ill trade my completely refurbished

building w/aircraft same value $225K

Always Flying Aircraft Restoration, LLC:
Annual Inspections, Airframe recovering,
fabric repairs and complete restorations.
Wayne A. Forshey A&P & I.A. 740-4721481 Ohio and bordering states.

MISCELLANEOUS, Aviations Leading

Green Lake, WI! 100 feet of Lake
Frontage for sale on beautiful Green
Lake. Great shing and swimming. 30
miles from EAA grounds. Call Dan 608
212 9556
Florida keys Tavernaero Airpark 2/2
up and 1/1 down. CBS Construction,
Central Air, screened pool, marina, air
pad. $750,000 owner/agent 305-3048393

Restoration, fabric, paint, fabrications,

pa p e r w o r k . W i t h 5 3 c o m p l e te d
projects, Wacos, Moths, Champs,
Lakes, Pitts etc. Test flights and
delivery. Indiana 480-209-2680, www.

Wanted for Warner 165 installation. One
control Box Type 318 for Eclipse 15V 15A
Generator Model 1, Type 308. Contact or


VintageJan2013.indd 57


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VAA Tail View

JIM BUSHA, Editor EAA Vintage Aircraft Association

With a couple of Vintage issues under my belt I
guess its high time I formally introduce myself to you. My
fascination for aviation began long ago, more years than I
care to admit, when I was 5 years old. My father tells me I
was watching an airplane fly over the old metal swing set
I was sitting atop, trying to get a better view, and leaned
way back. I proved gravity worked and received a halfdozen stitches in my head; I now carry a souvenir scar
covered by streaks of blonde and gray hairall compliments of aviation. All through grade school I daydreamed
of flight and wondered what model I would build next.
Unfortunately, a balsa Sopwith Camel was not the correct
answer to a math problem when called on by my teacher.
I had to wait until I was 12 years old before I was able to
escape terra firmas grip on me. A green and white colored
rag-wing Cessna 120 gave me a birds-eye view of the city
I lived in, and I marveled at the lush green fields, the little
Matchbox cars moving about below, and the realization in
knowing that flying was more than magicit was truly a
marvelous gift. About six years later I gave myself a little
present and began taking flying lessons in a 1967 Cessna
150. One of my instructors had been a B-17 pilot in World
War II and had no use for headsets or a fancy intercom;
screaming at me seemed to work just fine! After renting
nosedraggers for a few years I knew I wanted an old airplane to call my own.
I have always been enamored with the old airplanes,
especially those from the golden age of flight and into the
warbird types. I guess its a combination of the history, romance, and a simpler way of life and flying. Its been more
than 12 years ago now since my newborn son bought a
1943 Aeronca L-3 that he lets me fly. Since that time he
has acquired two more partnersboth his brothersso
I know its only a matter of time before they can all legally fly by themselves, forcing me to buy an old airplane
for myself. I know that will be a change, and sometimes
change is a good thing.
For those of you who have been a longtime member
of this great organization, then I am quite sure you have
noticed some very big changes both in the look and feel of
your magazine. Well, before stepping into the role of Vin56

tage editor on September 1, 2012, I was presented with

a recent member survey. I read and reread it with great
curiosity and enthusiasm and found that there was a wide
variety of interests and ideas. As some of you may have
noticed, especially with this issue, your voices have been
heard. For instance, a lot of you wanted more information
on how-to type articles. Starting with this issue you will
see master craftsman Robert Locks series explaining in
detail how to do almost anything.
The type clubs thought they were overlooked at times
as well, so as a solution to their anonymity they now have
their own Type Club Corner where they can share ideas,
announce upcoming events, brag about their types, or
talk about recent ADs. Remember, its first come first
served for your articles, so send them to me soon.
Another change of the magazine will obviously be the
layout, which will feature more stunning photography
and more stories about volunteers, restorers, and the pilots who fly these wonderful treasures. At times you may
see my scribble inside these pages, but for the most part
I have retained the well-known likes of Budd Davisson,
Sparky Barnes Sargent, and Robert Lock. You will also see
some new faces as well including Mark Carlson, Jim Hanson, John Patterson, and Don Berliner to name just a few.
Let me know what you think of the new lookgood, bad,
or otherwise. The same goes if you have a story idea thats
been swirling around inside your head for a while; send
me an e-mail with your ideas and I will help you share it
with the rest of the membership.
On a final note, its up to all of us to help ensure that
these airplanes continue to fly for a future generation to enjoy. I took my shoes and socks off, did some high math, and
figured it costs 12 cents a day to be a Vintage member. So I
am asking all of you to join me in a New Years resolution to
sponsor a friend, family member, hangar neighbor, or anyone else you associate with who would be deemed worthy to
become a member of our wonderful Vintage family. Remember, there is strength in numbers. Just think of the legacy
you will leave by introducing someone to Vintage aviation.
Blue skies!


VintageJan2013.indd 58

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VintageJan2013.indd 59

2012 Experimental Aircraft Assoc., Inc.

12/13/12 2:43 PM

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