Sunday, 1 May 2011

Nobody builds an airplane alone

Well, that may not be exactly correct, but for the most part, it would be pretty hard to lock yourself away in your garage, and emerge weeks, months, years, (more probably) decades with the finished product.
When it is a replica of an aircraft built over 80 years ago, it would be almost impossible without help.
I was lucky enough during my search for documentation, to be connected with some highly experienced experts on the aircraft and the Golden Age in general.
Ed Escallon, Ed managed the original Florida and EAA replica project, and took it from a basic collection of parts up to the completed aircraft now displayed in the EAA museum.
Ed in front of the EAA replica, holding a "new" Super Solution lower wing rib
Ed is a walking encylopedia of the Golden age racing era, and in particular the Super Solution. he has met and corresponded with almost every designer and pilot of the Era, most of who are no longer with us. Ed has been an incredible resource, supplying details such as drawings, photos, expertise, and even coming on road trips with me to examine the EAA version in the museum.  In the process, Ed has become a friend and advisor. His enthusiasm even after 30+ years of involvement in the Super Solution is amazing. This project could not have gotten off the ground without Ed`s help and encouragement.

Jim Moss has also been a great resource, with photos and documents, as well as some really good insight into flying the Super Solution. As Jim is the only pilot alive, who has flown a Super Solution in the last 80 years, he is a rather unique fellow to speak with. Jim and his wife Judy, have been very accomodating  hosts for my visits, and I look forward to the trips.
Jim and Judy, with their Super Solution
Not resting on his accomplishments, Jim has been hard at work on an incredible new Golden Age replica, the Gee Bee QED, which he hopes to have flying by the end of 2011. It is a stunning project.
The Jim Moss QED, a stunning project!
Tom Jensen who did all of the welding on the Moss Super Solution replica, and is also a retired Boeing 777 engineer. Tom is able to advise on both the original construction methods as well as safe current practice, bridging 80 years of aircraft design and development. Tom has been a wonderful source of documentation and advice, he is also a heck of a good welder!

Tom Poberezny, EAA Chairman of the Board, Alan Westby, EAA Airventure Museum Director, Baulken Noack, Director of Museum exibits, and the rest of the EAA museum staff. Tom, Alan and Baulken were kind enough to allow me to measure, photograph, and make templates of the Museum replica over a number of days. They are enthusiasts first and foremost, and they prove that the EAA is unique in Aviation, as it is still all about the members. They are a great source of advice and encouragment.

Kermit Weeks, founder of the Weeks Fantasy of Flight Air Museum, and current owner of the Moss Super Solution. Kermit has been very kind with access to the documentation held in the museum, as well as offering some great advice.
Kermit is unique in that he could hold a Thompson Trophy race by himself with the various Golden Age racers he owns, a true Golden Age enthusiast, Kermit is a great source of encouragement.
(If you need a volunteer to fly in the Thomson recreation Kermit, I am not fussy, Super Solution, Gee Bee R2, Z, ) :)

I am not quite sure how David Oviatt became involved with this project, but the poor fellow through no real choice of his own, has become the project "computer guy" and is now constantly in demand to produce more drawings and dimensions. David has an amazing ability to create an exact 3D CAD drawing, using only low quality photos and my crude pencil sketches. 
Super Solution aileron hinge
He is also building a unique racing aircraft of his own, a Knight Twister COED, of which none currently exist.

Larry Harmacinski who is an expert Waco pilot and restorer, has also been a secret Super Solution racer enthusiast for many many years. Larry knows everyone in the Antique aircraft world, and has been an invaluable source of advice and contacts. he is the go to guy for just about any hard to find part and service,

My 7 year old Daughter, Jamie, who is my constant companion in the shop, she is an expert tool collecter, and holder, as well as a whiz with a micrometer. She loves woodwork, and knows more about racing biplanes than any other 7 year old girl I know. She enjoys the wing building process, although she does keep a Nintendo DS handy for the more boring bits!
Jamie working on the wingtip bows
note the steel toe fuzzy bunny slippers
There are so many other people who have either directly or offered help on this project, so I shall try to include them as we go along. One of the real benefits of building a Golden Age racer replica is all the great people you meet in the process. There is so much enthusiasm for this project, and a genuine passion still exhibited for the racers of the 30`s. It fun to be working on the airplane.

2 comments:

  1. Was Ed once the president of the Florida Antique and Classic Association back in the mid to late 70's?

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  2. I am not certain about Ed being the president, all of this was well before my time, but he was certainly very involved with the association, and he was instrumental in the founding of Sun N Fun.

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