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We ventured out each day to a different designer's lair, visited several builders' projects and motored down to San Diego one morning to see their reincarnated air museum. Literally on the run from morning til night, we, nevertheless, didn't really scratch the surface of Southern California sport aviation activity.
Golda and I sincerely thank Ken and Marie Brock for their tremendous hospitality during our stay in California, as well as all the rest of you who took time off from your work or play to show us around, pose for pictures and be pestered by a bunch of questions.
As far as I'm concerned, Jed Clampett, those folks were giving you some mighty good advice! Without bothering to consult their paying customer, the computer out- fit that prints our labels decided to ab- breviate our code so they would have more room for their program code — that's the gobbledy-goop just above your name on the label.
The first we knew about it was when our own checking copy arrived through the mail Oh well, you know what the poet said about "best laid plans, etc.
But how many of you remember the first of these inverted V-tailed pushers, the IMP? Poland even- tually bought the rights, but just now is getting engines back into the pipe- line. Meanwhile, the IMP languished. De- signed around the bed-type Franklin en- gine mount, it was no simple matter for Molt to substitute a Lycoming or Con- tinental.
Virtually a complete redesign and rebuilding of the fuselage would be necessary to accommodate either. A couple of years ago, Molt s good friend, Warren Eding of St. Louis, came to the rescue of the by now dusty and forlorn IMP.
He expressed an interest in completing the airplane — and mak- ing it 4-place in the process. Molt was delighted, so the two got their heads together, came up with a plan for the mods and soon Warren was towing the IMP eastward to Missouri. This summer, Warren is nearing com- pletion of the rebuild.
The changes have been extensive and include: A fully adjustable tail like on the MiniIMP for trimming the airplane. Replaced the original paralleogram main gear with a leaf type. Ultimately a MiniIMP type that folds up into the wing root will be fitted.
Added a 30 inch plug to the for- ward fuselage. The lower half folds down and doubles as a stair, the top half swings up "gullwing" fashion. The Franklin Sport 4 will be retained for initial flight testing, but, ultimately, a converted Franklin hp helicopter engine will be installed.
Only V2 inch longer than the Sport Four, the does not have a prop flange on the crank- shaft, making it easier to attach the Flexidyne coupling and drive shaft. The Sport Four will turn a converted Beech Roby propeller. Something new will be devised for the It will be a beauty! He stocks about everything worth reading in the aviation line and has added 34 new titles in his Summer edition. An old favorite, Mr. Piper and His Cubs by Devon Francis is back in stock. Since John Thorp announced the T in , over 1, sets of plans have been sold and over of the little bent-wing wonders have flown.
Another are known to be un- der "active" construction. Actually, there seems to be a sort of resurgence of in- terest in the T in the last few years — due, most "insiders" like Dick believe, to the fact that between Ken Brock and Ken Knowles, virtually every airframe part, assembly and component can be purchased.
Glenn Breitsprecher sup- plies the canopies and Lycoming en- gines, though expensive, are readily available. With all the stuff available for it, the T comes pretty close. It's what people want to- day. The T experience is typical of what we are seeing throughout the homebuilt "industry ".
If it has folding wings — like Lu Sunderland's version of the T — that's just one more plus in the market place. Apparently, we are in the early stages of a new phenomenon in general avia- tion. In the past, the special purpose homebuilts — aerobatic jobs like the Pitts, Skybolts, etc.
They were essen- tially expensive toys — very often owned in addition to a pilot's "serious" air- plane Bonanzas, etc. The key point here is that these planes are not being built in addition to ownership of spam cans. Now, they are being built to take the place of them. Every day we hear of someone who has sold his "fuel guzzling" factory job and is trying to decide which one of the 4 or 5 gallon per hour homebuilt speed- sters to build.
What's happening, of course, is an aviation version of the automotive de- baucle of the past two or three years. Just like Detroit, our lightplane industry has been sitting there fat, dumb and happy with their s or worse tech- nology designs, oblivious to any need for modernization. Then suddenly, gaso- line quadruples in price and, great balls of fire!! Car owners quickly dumped their 12 mpg Chevvies for 30 mpg Toyotas. The homebuilts, it seems, have un- wittingly become the "Japanese" of the aviation world.
He and Lee Griswold of the Pittsburgh area formed a company last year to develop a family of advanced lightplanes, utiliz- ing composite structure and the canard configuration. George Mead was hired at Oshkosh '80 to design and build a pro- totype. With test pilot Peter Lert at the stick, the P. The plan was to fly the plane to Oshkosh '81 — but as this is being written prior to that event, we won't know if it makes it until after press time. Powered by a hp Lycoming, the 4-place, all composite P.
George Mead flew his taildragger ver- sion of his Adventure in mid-June. It re- quired some offset in the thrust line but, otherwise, is. Builders who choose that configuration will have to be current in the type. Still another antique airplane museum has been created there. We reported on Doug Champlin's Fighter Museum last time. Woods has bought the Carefree Airport and is in the pro- cess of building a museum as a part of the facilities there.
October 15, is the scheduled opening date. The museum will be open daily except Monday and Tuesday year round and special weekend flying demon- strations and rides will be staged from October 15 to June 1. This is the "Honeymoon Special ", the air- plane Matty Laird whisked his bride away in way back when. Much lighter than his earlier Planks, this one will be a test bed for even lighter ones to come. Buzzard I will weigh about pounds empty and will have a span of 33 feet. Minimum sink rate — 3 fps.
Really clean, it will feature drag rudders at the tips — like a split flap. The only vertical surface will be at the rear of the fuselage.
A new, modernistic bird will now perch on the sides of those big turbos that power jet air liners. The full scale Wedell Williams racer built by Jim Clevenger of Marion, NC will probably have been flown by the time you are reading this.
Engineered by Budd Davisson, it is one of several under con- struction. Jim, Budd and another pilot will each be flying one within a couple of years. Budd is also building a Howard Pete.
Major structural members are complete. He has been running some numbers on CG locations on Pete, the Wedell-Wil- liams and a couple of other s racers and is finding that they all were flown with CGs so far aft that it's difficult to see how they flew at all.
Perhaps this explains the frequent snapping out of high G turns that killed so many pilots. We recently received a copy of a page from the May 15, issue — and featured there was a picture of a dash- ing young devil, white scarf around his neck and a parachute over his shoulder. Reading the caption, we found it was none other than Bill Morrisey, designer of the Morrisey Nifty — now Varga Ka- china.
Bill was a CAA test pilot in those days assigned to the Aeronca plant. He flew the Army acceptance tests on L-3Bs. As you may have seen in Sport Aviation, Bill has designed a new entry in the homebuilt parade, a single placer that can be converted to a 2 or 4-placer!
The Sonerai II engine is the KFM , an cc 4-cylinder, 4-cycle, 77 hp unit that has the homebuilt world on its ear. Weighing just pounds with all the electrical goodies and a tuned exhaust, it is being eyed as a sophisticated al- ternative to the VW conversions.
Other KFM engines will be the , a 2-cylinder, 4-cycle, powerplant producing about 40 hp. It weighs 88 pounds with acces- sories. Then there is the KFM , a 6- cylinder, 4-cycle, hp engine.
As you might have surmised, the , and are "building block'' engines, shar- ing cylinder assemblies and other com- ponents. You'll be hearing a lot about these engines in the months ahead. The format and overall quality have been singled out for praise by many of you. The one sour note has been the length of time it took for the U. Post Office to get them to your doors. For some unfathomable reason, the Post Office does not permit one to apply for a Second Class Magazine Mailing Per- mit until after the first issue is printed.
This means the first one and possibly succeeding ones — until the permit is approved must go out Third Class. Third Class is slow mail, as you know. Powered by a Lycoming and a Hartzell CS prop. It weighs pounds empty and grosses at Cruises at knots, lands at 70 mph. The airplane is one of several built in Los Angeles by a group of pilots who fly 'em everywhere. All are exceptionally well done — flush riveting throughout, etc. The Shumway's is ex- tensively soundproofed — using 3-M soundproofing foam tape on about every square inch of the inside of the fuse- lage from the firewall to the leading edge of the rudder.
Cockpit of the Shumway T We associ- ate George with his ultra-sleek Osprey, but his latest design is a more conven- tional configuration — a two-place, side- by-side, low wing, retractable tri-cycle geared, basically all-wood with foam and glass for compound curves high per- formance sport plane.
As you would ex- pect from him, it is very streamlined and will have a great deal of attention devoted to drag reduction, both in design and in the fits of things like gear doors, con- trol surface gaps, etc. And it is ex- pected to be fast — cruise with a hp Lycoming IO and a specially made Hartzell is projected to be around knots!
And with an empty weight of only pounds, an initial rate of climb of nearly 3, fpm is anticipated. The starting point for the as-yet un- named design was a cockpit big enough to handle two large sized men like George , their luggage, a full IFR panel and enough oxygen to sustain them on some long, high altitude flights. With 54 gallons of fuel carried in full length leading edge tanks plus a fuselage head- er tank The one piece tapered wing has a laminar air foil and a set of big flaps.
Span is 24 ft. Fuselage length is Entry to the cockpit is via a sliding hatch, utilizing a T canopy. The major parts of the aircraft's struc- ture have been built, the main gear is in, etc.
And he wisely is not put- ting any pressure on himself relative to putting it on the homebuilt market. Incidentally, two aircraft are being built, the second by a friend who will use a Lycoming Steve Gross- ruck of Kasperwing fame has flown his ultralight in Seattle's Kingdome — in fact, circling as high as the 3rd level of seats. This was a warm-up for a sched- uled race between Grossruck and Gary Wilson in another Kasperwing at half- time during a paper airplane contest for local charity.
At presstime, we had not heard if it actually came off. Local pilots were claiming Steve's flight to be the first indoors in a powered, fixed wing aircraft.
Can anyone dispute that? Harvey Mace's M "Scorchy" with a new pressure cowl- ing. Looks and goes better, says Harvey. If you want more info on this tractor version of the BD-5 including drawings , write: Harvey Mace, Pudding Creek Rd. This tiny Douglas Aero Sprite Mk. II engine was run on its display stand — to prove it would, I suppose. Built in , it is Ser.
Used to power the British Tipsy S-2, it has a displacement of cc and produces 25 hp. Imagine a pleasant valley with a low range of mountains visible in the distance Picture an airport there with row on row of airplanes. Nowhere, friends, nowhere in the world but Watsonville, California will you find that combination of geographical, mechanical and gas- tronomic delights!
Billed as an antique airplane fly- in and, in fact, sponsored by the Northern California Chapter of the Antique Airplane Association, Wat- sonville has evolved into the all- category sport aviation event most large fly-ins have in recent years.
Antiques still are parked in center stage, but all the other types are just as accessible on the sprawling airport grounds, so no one need feel slighted. Judging is done in all sportplane categories, so al- most everyone has a chance at an award. Having been held for 17 consecu- tive years on the same airport, Wat- sonville is a mature event. The strawber- ries, artichokes, and apple juice are simply a sampling of local com- merce.
The local Chamber of Com- merce and many area civic groups participate in the fly-in, manning con- cessions and helping out in a vari- ety of other ways — all to make the event a success and to promote their area and its products.
On Saturday night everyone heads for the local fairgrounds for a spa- ghetti feed and indoor model air- plane contest. For , Gen- eral Jimmy Doolittle and his wife shared the applause and admiration of a standing room only crowd. On Sunday morning, those who can drag themselves out of bed early enough have the option of a short drive to the town of Corralitos to enjoy their annual Lumberjack Breakfast. This is still another all- out local civic event, featuring a hearty pancake breakfast amid tow- ering redwoods, antique cars and the chug-chugging of old fashioned stationary engines and implements.
All in all, Watsonville is a long weekend of pure pleasure for lovers of airplanes, cars and mechanical contraptions of various and sundry types. Located right on Monterey Bay, One of the minor sensations of Wat- sonville '81 was this tiny little. Naturally, it's made in Japan. The rider is Greg Coleman, who tooled all over the fly-in site with the little jewel — would make a great throw-it-in-the-baggage compartment ground transportation piece He will have a powered version available soon.
Watsonville has had some less than ideal weather for their fly-in in years past. It can be cold there almost any time of the year — all it takes is a stiff breeze coming in off the ocean.
A cold current of water wells up from the deep just off the coast and can turn the local weather mean in minutes. Fortunately, conditions were ideal this year — warm, sunny and little in the way of wind all weekend. One couldn't have ordered a better weather scenario for a fly- in.
Each morning the ultralights were out buzzing around the pattern, and across the active runway hot air balloons were billowing up and launching into just enough of a breeze to slowly waft them away to distant adventure. One launched with a girl standing on top of the envelope Thrills are where you find them, I suppose! Just as we earlier found a conti- nent away in Florida at Sun 'N Fun, predictions of a great turndown in recreational activity this year were definitely not supported by fact at Watsonville.
A very large crowd turned out each day of the fly-in and surely made the event a finan- cial success. I'm glad because I want to go back again. The show airplanes at Watson- ville are parked in what amounts to long, roped-off fingers, each ma- chine right behind the ropes and facing the spectators.
In this way everyone gets a close-up view of every aircraft, which seems to satis- fy their curiosity because I saw few instances of rope jumping pun in- tended. The airplane was formerly the pride and joy of the late Steve McQueen. Jim Nisson's fabulous of Jenny. His aerobatic show yes! Don't know anything about this tiny little Cirrus engine other than the fact that it was shown to us while we were talking to Ron Souch about his Gipsy Moth.
The little engine was said to run. CA New Standard. Pow- ered by a Kinner. The "fingers", incidentally, are wide enough that aircraft can taxi in and out down the middle of them. This keeps whirling propellers well away from the spectators.
Watsonville is a "flying fly-in". It's the largest event I'm aware of that still has short field take-off and landing contests. Fortunately, not a large number of pilots choose to participate — but those who do ap- pear to have a lot of fun. One day these two appeared to be in just a wee bit of a race as they made their last pass down the runway before turning out for landing. I'm sure both of them had their throttles putting a dim- ple in their panels as they roared by, and Mel's bigger, blunter Har- low was giving the pointy little Rocket all it could handle.
On land- ing it was no contest — the gen- erously winged Harlow made the first turn-off with ease, as the Rocket, well, rocketed on by. Orval did a nice job. The aerobatic portion of the after- noon show followed immediately af- ter the parade of antiques After a few passes by the crowd, all the antiques landed.
He began grind- ing away for altitude as the others squeeked down on the runway or the grass median. After he appeared to have a couple of thousand feet, maybe less, Jim stuck the nose of his Jenny down and, by golly, looped it! Not only did he loop it, but on the pull out he brought the nose on up, burned off his very little speed, kicked in full rudder and, yep, spun it!!
It was the darndest thing I've ever seen. Those big ol' long wings and forty miles of struts and wires wallowed round an' round in about as lazy a fashion as anything can that's pointed straight at the ground! Just as great was the sound — you could have closed your eyes and counted the turns. Gad, it was magnificent!
The pull out was followed by another comma-shaped loop, after which 8 SUMMER Jim brought her around for a neat landing in the grass. Jim's crew rushed in with a wheeled dolly and shortly were tow- ing the ol' bird tail first back to its parking spot — amid the cheers of an appreciative crowd. I certainly don't mean to minimize the talent and showmanship of the aerobatic pilots who followed Jim each day because they did some exceptional flying, but I must con- fess that seeing the Jenny loop and spin was the high point of the fly- in for me.
The air show was interesting for its variety as well as talent. Next to the Jenny, the most un- usual act. It was impressive — and a lit- tle startling — to see the clean lit- tle ship pick up speed when the nose was pointed down.
Best of all, though, were the rolls. The Grand Champion of the fly-in they only award one, regardless of category was a Travel Air — a 'Hisso Travel Air'' to the initi- ated. Built in far fewer numbers than its contemporaries, the Travel Air OX-5 and Wright J-5 , the is a rarity today.
It's the only one I've ever seen. The s claim to fame rests largely with the exploits of the late Louise Thaden. On December 7 of she set a world's altitude record for women by climbing her Hisso Tra- vel Air to 20, feet over Oakland, California. Three months later, on March 16, , she used the same airplane to break the solo endurance record with a flight last- ing 22 hours, 3 minutes and 28 Gotta be something different.
The en- gine develops hp and appears to be very well done — lots of special castings, etc. A second Aero Engine inset was displayed on a pick-up. N42CW, one of the nicest KR-2s ever turned out by a builder.
A second one is being built for his wife. A few years ago, a major U. That's funny, because almost all European lightplanes of the 20s and 30s, including the Gipsy Moth, had them. This V-8 water cooled engine was from the family of engines there were many variants, horsepowers, etc. The is said to have been a favorite "fake Fokker" with movie directors of the 20s and 30s due to its re- semblance to a Fokker D-VII.
Ted Homan had been working on the for a number of years, but, sadly, he has developed a physi- cal condition that no longer permits him to attend fly-ins.
However, his wife, Flora, and some friends were determined to get the airplane done and to Watsonville for him. It must have meant a great deal to each of them when Flora stepped forward on Sunday night to accept the trophy. The airplane was re- stored there and, with its wings folded, was shipped here along with their other possessions. The Gipsy Moth is quite interesting in that it is restored to a factory new state, rather than as an all-out show piece with polyurethane paint, chrome plating, etc.
Manufacturers in other countries took a more work-a-day at- titude toward their products than did American companies of the s and s. These people wanted fancier airplanes — hand rubbed finishes, nickel plated sticks, etc. Conse- quently, Ron's plane is very nice, very clean, very authentic — but it does not shine like a lot of our show- planes do.
It's nice to see one done that way and the judges, who know about such things, weren't put off by it in the least. Ron, incidentally, has a Cessna Airmaster for restoration and has become acquainted with Gar Wil- liams, who was featured in Volume 1, Number 1 of Sportsman Pilot.
The Gipsy Moth is a very sig- nificant airplane — much more so than most Americans realize. For a time in the early s, there was a literal parade of Gipsy Moths dashing to and from Australia — each pilot trying to make the flight faster than the last one. It was a terribly slow airplane for such distances, but its Gipsy engine was probably the most re- liable small aircraft powerplant in the world at that time, and so be- came the chosen instrument of pi- lots like Jim and Amy Mollison, Jean Batten, Charles Scott and a num- ber of other persistent souls.
Ron was kind enough to give me a "guided tour" of his airplane and while peering into the rear cockpit with its big ship-type horizontal com- pass, I couldn't help wondering if I had the courage and the stamina to duplicate the feats of those fa- mous names of yesteryear. Well, maybe if there were Holiday Inns at every stop. There were no awards this year for ultra- lights, although they were much in evidence. Monday was Memorial Day, so most of the aircraft were still there when we prepared to leave that morning.
The weather was still good. Ken can almost shoot it from memory. As Watsonville and the Pajaro Val- ley faded from view behind us, I had nothing but pleasant memories of the past 3 days.
We hope to be back This one is the 19th of 59 built. Richard Edmiston of Ave. He believes it to be the most original KCA flying today.
It has the old over- head exhaust Continental A single ignition engine of. It was a basket case when Richard bought it, requiring all new wings, except for hardware, an engine overhaul, new fabric, interior, etc.
It is covered with Stits fabric but is finished in authentic yellow and blue paint. If you'll look closely at the "cockpit'' of Jack McCornack's Pterodactyl you will see an oxygen bottle — a tip off to the fact that he has been doing some high altitude flying of late. On the first day of Watsonville Friday , he climbed to 17, feet, flew straight and level for 5 miles then began his descent. He had coordinated the flight with the Mon- terey tower.
The barograph trace for the flight is taped to the oxygen bottle. Built by Ted Andersen of Eureka, Califor- nia, it was so new the paint and the ink on the Special Airworthiness Certificate were still wet. The Christen Eagle kits are so complete and so deluxe that it seems sort of silly to ask a build- er about the construction of the air- plane.
Consequently, I took another tack I asked about any devia- tions, any additions over and above what Christen supplies. Lo and be- hold, I found there were a few.
Eureka is on the northern coast of California, about 80 air miles south of the Oregon border. It gets foggy and rainy there on occasion, according to Ted, so he added some gyro instruments. Also, because Eureka is a long way from fly-ins, a 6 gallon aux tank was built in.
It doubles as a smoke oil tank when desired, the conver- sion taking about 5 minutes with a wrench and a little body english. Initially, Ted considered installing a simple two-position valve for switching functions, but after con- sidering the consequences of per- haps forgetting and injecting raw gasoline into the exhaust, decided that wasn't a move conducive with such delights as hanging around long enough to collect his Social Security.
ALL Christen Eagles have spec- tacular paint schemes — featuring the stunning highly stylized poly- chromatic eagle head and feathers created by artist Ivan Clede.
Ted Andersen, however, is the first build- er I'm aware of who has turned his Eagle into a night fighter — it's an all-black airplane with the bright- ly colored eagle literally jumping out of it. The effect is dramatic, to say the least. The price for the goodies and the super finish Stits and Imron is, inevitably, a higher than normal empty weight — about 50 pounds more. As a result, the airplane is just a smidgen under on some of the Christen performance figures, but, nevertheless, Ted is very happy with the airplane.
It is still a super performer and he wouldn't trade his add-ons for the few extra feet in rate of climb Ted was forthright in admitting that he got off on something of a wrong foot with Christen Industries when he initially placed his order.
Like a lot of other early Eagle kit purchasers, Ted was so entranced with the air- plane that he simply wasn't hear- ing what Frank Christensen was saying about his programmed pro- duction schedule for the 28 materi- als packages kits that are needed to complete the airplane. What Frank attempted to explain was that after the start-up of the program, he would produce, each month, a cer- tain number of one of the packages.
The next month the same number of another package would be made, etc. The packages would be shipped out by order numbers to customers.
Obviously, such a system was just too boring a rigamarole to ex- plain to a fellow who was outside the office panting and drooling over the demonstrator. God knows he tried. After a short period of disillusion- ment, Ted made himself aware of and accepted the factory production system and simply adjusted his building to it. Once received, he certainly was pleased with the kit packages. They were, he recalls, all they were advertised to be: Throughout the 2V2 years of spare time it took to build his Eagle, Ted was bombarded with corrections, updates, etc.
Very few had anything to do with the structure or design of the air- Can you believe this?? Looks like a prop that got left out in the rain and warped! Actually, it s a very carefully made scimitar by Ken Swain of Lamb St. It did, however, show how concerned Frank was with doing everything right. He's really a per- fectionist! He is a native of Col- orado, but after his discharge from the Navy 12 years ago, he settled in Eureka. He owns several retail businesses and flies basically for recreation.
He learned to fly about 8 years ago, but really wasn't aware of or- ganized sport aviation at the time. One weekend he flew his Cessna to San Francisco on business, heard a "fly-in" was taking place in nearby Watsonville and decided to go have a look. He bought a nice Stearman and spent many enjoyable hours mak- ing it even nicer. He sold the big two-holer when he bought the Eagle kits. I really like the Eagle and I want to continue aero- batics for a long time to come, but antiques are another thing that has my heart.
Nevertheless, we've got some homebuilders out there who are trying to make a lie out of that old chestnut Pretty tall order, eh? One of our wishful thinkers is Ken Swain, a mechanical engineer by education, a C pilot for Uncle Sam's Air Force by profession and a VariEze and wild, wild scimitar propeller builder by avocation. If you were at Oshkosh the last cou- ple of years or remember the pic- ture in the October issue of Sport Aviation, you know he has carved a prop for his Lyc that would drive a Turkish sword maker to drink So swoopy and so thin as to appear all but impossible to carve from wood, it seemed too fragile to stand up to the thumping power pulses of a Lycoming four banger.
I finally managed to catch up with Ken at the Watsonville, CA Fly-In and was able to get the story on his propeller. Right off the top, he acknowledged the work of gen- erations past and present that served both as inspiration and val- uable sources of information in de- veloping his own prop. In particu- lar, he cited the S-shaped props of the World War I era and, of course, the racing props Steve Wittman has been making, flying. To do this the blade must be thin enough to flex, yet strong enough not to break and it must have the geometry to flex just the desired amount and in the de- sired direction.
As you can easily imagine, this is possible only through a skillful combination of science and the gentle art of prop making. Such "magic" propellers have been built and have been proven to work. Steve Wittman was exceed- ing standard textbook propeller per- formance chart figures in the s. It's simply a matter of the extreme amount of flexing the blades experience. If they are metal they ultimately fatigue; if they are wood, the limits of elasticity are reached and the fibers break. As Ken puts it, it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when an old fash- ioned scimitar propeller will break.
When he built his VariEze a few years ago, Ken fitted it with one of Ted Hendrickson's 58" x 72" pro- pellers — an excellent prop in his considered opinion. With it he got about rpm on static runup, a good rate of climb and a cruise of between mph He was pleased with the numbers but didn't like having to thrash his engine so far above its redline rpm to get them. This was the starting point for his scimitar — leading to a design goal of equalling the Hendrickson prop in take-off and climb and exceeding the cruise performance Knowing what he did about the history of scimitar props, Ken never would have attempted making one had it not been for the experience he had gained with composite con- struction methods and materials in the course of building his Vari- Eze.
He knew that fiberglass could be laid up in layers and with the woof and warp oriented in such a way as to "tailor" the way the fin- ished product would flex at almost any given point along its length. VariEze spars are made that way — "tailored" to withstand the neces- sary "flying" loads, torsional loads, etc. Consequently, Ken resolved to build a composite propeller — with a wood core covered with layers of fiberglass and epoxy resin. Moving back to the World War I part of the job — the wood work- ing — Ken quickly learned that in California, at least, he would be working with a considerable handi- cap.
He found that propeller quality hardwood was awfully difficult to come by. He went through quite a bit of stuff that would have made beautiful coffee tables before he had enough birch, maple and cherry to build a decent propeller. The cherry was purely cosmetic — a dash of color amidst the pale lay- ers of birch and maple.
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