We hit somewhat of a milestone last week as Ken cleared out around the Benoist hull jig in preparation for flipping it over!

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After rounding up much of the gang . . . we lifted up the hull and began to rotate it . . . trying not to break off any of the delicate pieces that still need more structure attached.

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Almost there! It is not as heavy as it’s going to get as it still needs another layer of 1/4″ planking. The finished hull should weigh in at around 350 pounds.

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After taking out a jig piece or two . . . we finally got it to settle in right-side up!

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Here’s a shot from the front. Check out the two main beams going down the middle of the fuselage. The pilot seat sits on the front of the main beams while the engine sits just behind the pilot in the section without the lightening holes.

There is still a LOT of work to do on this!

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Here’s a shot from the rear.

The top deck in the back gets 1/4″ planking and once it goes on . . . there is no way to get inside, so all the wood needs to be sealed and all the control cables need to be routed.

With the fuselage section open around the engine, and from the experience of our “Lark of Duluth” friends up north, we know water will get back there so Ken’s put drain holes in the bottom of all the bulkheads to make sure we can see any water in the hull before take-off as it should all drain to the low spot under the engine.

Our bilge pump will consist of a small bucket and a sponge!

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Our own Ken Kellett just got back from vacation and is beginning to plank the Benoist hull in earnest now as these updates from Kermit show:

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The front step area gets three layers of 1/4″ x 4″ spruce and the sides and bottom aft of the step get 2 layers. Here’s a closer view of the step area:

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Here’s a shot from the front:

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The side strips begin vertical and the next layer goes forward and aft. The bottom begins forward and aft because it ultimately gets three layers. Originally, in the construction of old boats and early seaplanes, fabric would have been glued under the last layer of wood to help seal the hull. Because you won’t be able to see it, we will use fiberglass cloth and epoxy glue, which is stronger and should seal it better.

In addition to Ken, we have four others focusing on cables, turnbuckles, a cable tension tester, the fuel tank, and the drive system. The engine guy up north is making progress and will also do the radiator.

Five months and counting! Tick… tick… tick…

We’re sorry about not posting for a bit. We’ve been rolling out a new website that is a vast improvement over our old one. We were going to move the blog of there eventually, but that’s taking longer than we thought, and you guys deserve an update, so here we go!
We had a meeting yesterday on where were are relative to getting our Benoist reproduction ready for the 100th Anniversary flight on January 1, 2014.

The clock is ticking and we’re beginning to feel we’re a bit behind the power curve.

A-Benoist-Progress

We’ve mobilized everyone in the Aircraft Department to begin making this our PRIMARY focus, as we’ve still got a lot of work to do. Anslo, our built from scratch Roberts engine has also become the top priority at the shop where its being constructed.
We got some sad news from our friends that built a “Lark of Duluth” replica. This was the airplane that eventually became our Tony Jannus airplane and flew during a Duluth, MN Festival during the summer of 1913.

B-Benoist-Progress

They missed flying their airplane for their 100th Anniversary event but finally got a chance to fly it last week . . . for about ten seconds!

It seems the pressure is on both our Fantasy of Flight CREW as builders . . . and on KERMIT as a pilot!

Here’s a video of our visit to see the progress of our Roberts engine being built by Steve Littin in Ohio. It’s a six-cylinder 2-cycle water-cooled engine that produces 75 hp.

benoist-travel-time-map

When people read the story of the first airline flight, they often wonder at the travel time of 23 minutes for a short trip across the bay. Why on earth would people pay for a 23 minute flight?

The reason becomes clear when you understand what travel options were available in 1914. Back then, there was no such thing as a “quick trip across the bay.” With no bridges and brand new automotive technology, a drive was an uncomfortable 20 hours! A somewhat more luxurious rail trip could range anywhere between 4 and 12 hours, and even the direct route across the water by steamboat would take you more than two hours.

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