Archive: February 2014


Kitplanes February 2014 coverA decade ago, we highlighted the almost bewildering array of WW-I replicas made by Airdrome Aeroplanes by putting test pilot Harvey Cleveland and the Sopwith Baby on the February 2014 cover. Inside, Scott M. Spangler reported that designer Robert Baslee was fascinated by WW-I aircraft, quoting him as saying, “I’d always wanted a Fokker Dr. 1 Triplane.” In the feature, Spangler wrote that Baslee noted “there were a few homebuilt replicas available…but he wasn’t eager to invest 10,000 hours in building one of them. So he sat down with the Triplane’s three-view drawings and applied his experience as an engineer, machinist and hands-on homebuilder to find a better, quicker way. Before starting construction, he called a friend who’d graduated from Cal Poly, ’the same school Burt Rutan went to, and told him what I wanted to do.’ The thin airfoils of the era would not provide the docile handling he wanted. Their discussion led them to the N15 variation of the Clark Y, which is similar to the USA-35B used on Piper’s Cub, and ‘I’ve been using it on every airplane I’ve built.’”

This issue also includes our 2014 Rotorcraft Buyer’s Guide, six pages to cover the kits and plans for rotorcraft and gyros available then. Author Roy Beisswinger noted in the preamble that “the new FAA 51% checklists allow for pure assembly of gyroplanes and helicopters by kit builders. That is an acknowledgement that with rotorcraft—unlike airplanes—there are very few things to actually fabricate that are reasonable for amateurs to take on. The biggest example is the wing. An airplane kit builder can dedicate a lot of time to building a wing since it has a lot of little and not-so-little parts. Rotors come prebuilt and are often complex composite pieces.”

Airdrome’s WW-I replicas took over our cover this month, with rotorcraft, new avionics and a serious post-crash debrief to be found inside.

Dan Horton authored a piece on what it takes to be a Grand Champion builder, summing it up by saying, “The next time you go to the shop, remember that these gentlemen [the Grand Champ winners he interviewed] once knew nothing and had no skills. They learned, and practiced, and made parts repeatedly until they were satisfied. That’s the key. Forget the time and enjoy the work. In the end, personal satisfaction is the only lasting reward. Still, being a Grand Champion is nice. You can do it, too. Just do the best you can.”

Editor-in-Chief Paul Dye outlined Garmin’s new GTR 200 com radio: “Introduced at AirVenture 2013, the new GTR is a compact and inclusive electronics package that can provide a builder with both a communications radio and a high-end intercom in one box.” Originally with a price of around $1000, the GTR proved to be a strong replacement for the popular Apollo/Garmin SL-40.

It’s not often we get a firsthand understanding of an airplane crash but we had one this issue from Jeremiah D. Jackson, who walked away from a forced landing on the fourth flight of his Van’s RV-10. “On my fourth flight during the RV-10’s Phase I testing, a small oil line detached from its fitting on the engine, causing rapid and complete loss of oil and pressure, followed by engine seizure. At the time, I was about 20 miles from my flight-test base at Ramona, California. The engine failure occurred at an altitude of 8500 feet over rugged, mountainous terrain. Only four minutes passed from when I first noticed the flashing low oil pressure gauge on my Garmin G3X to when I crashed into a rocky hillside within Cleveland National Forest,” he related. He offered 20 suggestions from his experience, but the nineteenth stands out: “Don’t ever stop trying to solve the problem. It’s tempting to just give up and accept a bad fate when dealt such lousy cards. Don’t! Keep looking for more favorable options; keep searching and assessing, even down to your final second. If nothing else, it keeps your sense of control intact, and pushes deadly panic to a deeper recess of your mind.” Wise words.


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