My Sopwith Snipe has been completed, signed-off by the authorities, and recently test-flown!

All this is courtesy of Peter Jackson’s great interest and efforts building up very authentic reproductions of famous WWI aircraft.  As mentioned in a previous blog, I did a trade with Peter for the Snipe and Albatros and sent down several engines they overhauled for the projects.

Snipe being Rigged for Flight!

Since this is the first Snipe built by Gene DeMarco and The Vintage Aviator Ltd. (TVAL), it took considerably longer than my Albatros, which already had a prototype flying.  I blogged about my exploits in April flying the Albatros at the Omaka Airshow.

I chose to paint the Snipe in the colors of highly-decorated WWI Canadian Ace Billy Barker, who was the 12th highest scoring ace in WWI with 50 confirmed kills.  It represents the airplane he flew his last combat in on October 27, 1918, in which he received the Victoria Cross for his valiant efforts against enemy aircraft.

Ready to Test-Fly!

One of the cooler aspects of the restoration was that Barker and his squadron mates used to put car ornaments of the time on their airplanes to “personalize” them.  Gene and his restoration crew did some research and found the ornaments are still being made for period cars . . . by the SAME COMPANY that built them in WWI!  How cool is that?  They ordered me the one Barker used . . . a Red Devil!

Barker's personalized weapon with WWI period car hood ornament!

The Snipe uses the largest Rotary engine ever built: a British Bentley BR-2 with 230 hp!  I have seen videos of it running on a test stand and can’t wait to get it back to hear it in person.  Better yet, fly behind it!

She Flies!

As I write this, both the Snipe and the Albatros are on a ship headed to Florida.  We hope to have them assembled and flying at Fantasy of Flight and by the end of March in time for the 2012 Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In!

Kermit

The Curtiss Pusher I purchased earlier this year is now at Fantasy of Flight!  Shipped down from Idaho, it made the trip in record time in the back of a semi-trailer.  With the help of my guys, we unloaded it and eventually hung the wings on temporarily while we had everyone there.

The precarious part with the help of a forklift!

While in the trailer unloading parts . . . with my three of my guys looking in . . . I couldn’t help but have them pose for a picture!

Grease Monkeys?

As mentioned in a previous blog, I think the airplane will make a great trainer for the Benoist Flying Boat we’re building.

Hangar Flying!

The airplane has since been completely assembled, inspected, and test run.  We now only await paperwork from the FAA.

Kermit

We held another Roar ‘n Soar event again this year.  I flew four different airplanes each day and talked to the crowds about each one after landing.  There are many things going on at the event like; R/C planes, boat races on the lake, BMX jumping, hang gliding, a car show, music, and lots of fun things for the kids to do.

One fun thing I got to do for me was to race a Hydroplane around the course one morning.  It does about 100 mph on the straightaways!  What a rush!

What fun!

Another cool thing I got to do was demonstrate a Hovercraft I’ve had for many years.

More fun!

When I moved out of my Miami shop to Central Florida I rented it to the people that built them.  After visiting from time to time, I decided I had to have one.  It is equally as comfortable on water as it is on land and I routinely go from the runway into the retention ponds and back.  One of the fun things you can do with it is go down the runway at full speed, turn the control hard over, and do spins down the runway!

Kermit

Restoration Specialist, Andy Salter, just completed a milestone on one of our onsite airplane projects . . . the installation of a Liberty engine he overhauled himself for our WWI DeHavilland 4!

Andy makes last minute checks!

Andy is an expert machinist and comes from a background of tool and die making as well as car and airplane restoration.  He was involved in the rebuild of the Spitfire we have at Fantasy of Flight as well as several other projects I had done in England before he came to work for me.

Hoisting the Liberty to its new Home!

One of the more tedious parts of the overhaul was hand-scraping the silver babbitted crankshaft bearings, which alone took him three weeks!  Next steps on the project will be to begin installing anything that connects to the engine like fuel lines, instruments, radiator, etc.

Installed!

Andy is also working on another Liberty for our other DH-4 Mailplane so what he’s learned from this project will have a direct carry over to the Mailplane.

I can’t wait to hear one run!

Kermit

I was recently asked to endorse a product for a Radio Control Airplane version of the famous Gee Bee R-1 Racer!  This was the airplane that Jimmy Doolittle flew and won the famous Thompson Trophy Race in Cleveland, OH in 1932.  They actually built two versions of the airplane: one for racing in the Thompson closed-course pylon races and another for participating in the cross-country Bendix Race from Los Angeles to Cleveland.

I'm now on the side of a box!

We’re fortunate to have a reproduction of the airplane on display at Fantasy of Flight, which has since become one of the characters in my illustrated children’s book series.  The first book is called All of Life is a School and I’m rapidly narrowing down on my second one.

It’s a cute little airplane with an electric motor.  Guess what it weighs with the motor and all the radio control gear in it?  FIVE OUNCES!  They brought one out for the photo shoot and later flew it for me off the ramp.  How cool!

While we aren’t getting paid for the endorsement, we are getting some great advertising on the side of the box to help advertise Fantasy of Flight.

I used to fly R/C airplanes when I was a kid and now joke to people that I crashed so many of them, it got too expensive . . . so I got into collecting Warbirds!

Kermit

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