I recently returned from a trip Down Under and got a chance to check up on several projects.  My first stop was New Zealand where I got to visit Peter Jackson and his staff.  Two of the three Mercedes engines I sent down were overhauled with one destined for my Fokker D-7 project.  I have several other exciting engine/airplane deals going at this time with Peter which I will report on at a later date.

Kermit flying a brand new Be-2c reproduction

I first met Peter through Gene DeMarco whom I had known from vintage aircraft for many years. Gene used to fly at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in New York State and I got the chance to dogfight Gene flying a Sopwith Camel while I was picking up and flying my Fokker D-VIII on a show weekend. Peter shares a love of WWI aircraft and hired Gene when he began collecting airplanes.  Between films the technical specialists build airplanes and it’s amazing to see what they’re doing.  I only wish I had the wherewithall to do what they’re doing at the same level.  Maybe one day Gee Bee will be as big as King Kong!  In success, not size. Anyway, what they’re doing for WWI aviation history is awesome and very inspiring!

Kermit flying original Avro 504 with 100hp Gnome rotary engine

Most of the time I was there the weather was not very good, but it cleared up one day and we headed up to where they keep their flying airplanes.  There I got to fly one of their scratch-built Be-2C’s, including a scratch-built RAF engine.  I also got to fly an Avro 504 with a 100 Gnome rotary, as well as, be a gunner in their amazing Fe-2B reproduction with an original Beardmore engine!  Talk about a blast.  It was . . . literally! I also got to taxi around their amazing WWI Albatross reproduction with an original Mercedes engine.  It sounds like a John Deere tractor and I can’t wait to be the first kid on my block to have one running!

Kermit, the Fe-2b Gunner, with Gene at the controls!

Clearing the skies of clouds and enemy aircraft!

One day, we hope to do a WWI show at Fantasy of Flight.  With the way things are progressing, it won’t be long before we could do a great one with just the airplanes we have . . . even if nobody else shows up!

Kermit

Teresa and I recently celebrated our 10-year Wedding Annversary.  But then again, that’s nothing new, for not only do we celebrate it every year, WE REDO IT EVERY YEAR!

When we initially planned the wedding, we wanted to invite family and friends out to Sedona but life had a different plan.  It seemed every time we tried to set up or plan something, it wouldn’t work out or the energy wouldn’t feel right.  In the end, we realized we were supposed to do it by ourselves.  I wrote the ceremony, came up with Teresa’s dress design, and was the official wedding photographer using a tripod and a timer.  NO ONE ELSE WAS THERE!

In Arizona, you only need five signatures to make a marriage legal: the bride, the groom, someone legally recognized by the state, and two witnesses.  We did the ceremony ourselves at sunset on our vacant property and toasted with some champagne as the stars came out.  We then visited the local magistrate’s house where we had pre-agreed to do the five signatures.  Unfortunately, only his wife was at home so we loaded up the magistrate and headed to the Rainbow’s End, a local bar where we had planned to celebrate with a band that night.  We grabbed two bouncers and, five signatures later, were legally married!

The next day we headed off to the South Pacific on our honeymoon, which included Turtle Island in Fiji, Bora Bora in Tahiti, and Easter Island.  When we came home three weeks later, it was then that we had a big party with all our family and friends.  Since our May 2000 wedding, Teresa and I have gone back every year to Sedona on our anniversary and redone our wedding!

The story of Teresa and myself has unfolded with a story that is beyond a fairy tale.  I hope to share much of it in my book The Journey Never Ends, which I’m still working on and will happen in its own time.  Our daughter Katie has been the only other person to witness our ceremony and it’s interesting that, as the fairy tale unfolded, we found out Teresa was pregnant with Katie the morning of our 3rd Anniversary! Initially, while redoing the ceremony, Teresa used to hold her, then, as she got older, would walk out with her.  Now Katie sits in a folding chair and takes pictures from afar.  She always asks, “Mommy, are you gonna cry again?” We always do . . . and once you know the story . . . you will too!

Kermit

I recently did a research trip for the Benoist Flying Boat we are building for the 100th Anniversary of Flight on January 1st, 2014.  Since there are no original drawings of the airframe or existing aircraft in exixtence, employee Ken Kellet and I took off to see what we could find.  As mentioned before, the Benoist uses a rare and unavailable 6-cylinder two-cycle Roberts engine of 75hp, which we hope to also recreate.

We first arrived in Washington D.C to visit the National Air and Space Museum and the Hazy Center to look at similar aircraft.  We were allowed to go through their historical archives, finding pictures and other bits of information that will help us.  They was very accomodating and allowed us to arrive before they opened and inspect a similar Hugo Eckner Flying Boat hanging in one of their galleries with a lift.  This aircraft also used the same engine as the Benoist.  I took lot’s of pictures.

We then took off by car to head up to Hammondsport, NY to visit the Glenn Curtiss Museum where there were two other similar period aircraft.  Continuing on we stopped to check the progress of the Fokker D-7 Fred Murrin is building for me.  The main structure is basically complete and it’s coming along slowly but nicely.

1913 reproduction Curtiss "E" Model Flying Boat at Curtiss Museum

1919 Curtiss "Seagull" at Curtiss Museum

After a day at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidental Library taking pictures of Roberts engine drawings we visited with Steve Littin of Vintage and Auto Rebuilds just outside of Cleveland, OH.  He builds early Rolls Royce Silver Ghost car engines from scratch and is willing to help our desire to build a new Roberts engine for the Benoist Flying Boat.  Steve recently visited Fantasy of Flight and, after discussing the project, took my 4-cylinder Roberts back to Ohio with him as well as all the drawings and manuals we took pictures of to begin the process of figuring out how we’re going to build a new one.

Kermit and Steve Littin with 4-cylinder Roberts engine

I was fortunate to recently acquire a second 4-cylinder Roberts from an auction in England, which just might end up in our 1910 Curtiss Pusher reproduction.  I figured since we’re going to be Roberts engine experts at some point, why not?  I also made an agreement with Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome to borrow their 6-cylinder Roberts, which is currently on display in the St. Pete Museum.  It will be sent to Steve for disassembly for reverse engineering purposes and we all look forward to learning about, building, and running this fascinating engine!  I can only imagine that it’s got to sound like a Harley on steroids!

On a side note, I got a chance to see the original Curtiss Seaplane Schneider Cup winner at the Smithsonian.  The land plane version of this with wheels (R3C-1) was the basis for the “Curtiss” character in my illustrated children’s book All of Life is a School.

"Curtiss" R3C-2 Schneider Cup Racer at NASM

I also got a chance to see the original “Roscoe” at the Crawford Museum in Cleveland, OH, which is also a character in my book.  I was somewhat surprised when I saw it to find it painted gold!  When I wrote the book, I must have got it confused with one of Roscoe Turner’s later racers, which was silver.  Since I was just about to put in the order for another 5000 books, I went to the trouble of changing the color.  I guess that makes the next batch the “Gold Edition!”

Original "Roscoe" Turner Racer at the Crawford Museum

I’ll post updates on the Benoist and Roberts project as we progress.  Once we get this research part done the fun part begins: building!

Kermit

About a year ago, I was invited to join friends and family on a trip to Egypt and go down the Nile.  I didn’t go out of my way to set this up, it just unfolded before me.  I was intrigued with visiting because I had been shown I had a past life connection to the Egyptian Dynasty days.  The first time this surfaced was when having a massage over a decade ago.  I was face down, very relaxed, and all of a sudden a visual flashed in my mind’s eye of the same massage therapist working on me during the days of the Pharoahs.  I picked my head up and mentioned this whereupon her jaw dropped and she very excitedly announced, “I can’t believe it, I was just been wondering how I knew you in a past life!” This was my first indication.

Years later, while attending week-long sessions at the Monroe Institute exploring consciousness, this past life connection to Egypt came up again several times.  This will all be included in the book I’m writing of my experiences called The Journey Never Ends!

About five months before the trip I had the reading with Kevin Blackwell mentioned in an earlier blog post, which you should check out.  One of the past lives I was interested getting information on was this Egyptian connection.  Not only did Kevin nail what I already knew, he gave me additional information to the point I have a very good idea exactly who I was!  So, you can see why I was intrigued to visit.

Prior to going, I read about eight books on Egyptian history and was amazed how much they influenced later cultures and religions.  I won’t go into details here but I got some interesting information and messages while I was there.  One highlight was getting to meditate in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid, which I seem to have connections to.  Another was having an owner of a rather nice carpet store come up to me with a quizzical look saying, “I know you from somewhere!” I had never seen this guy before and told him I had never been to his shop.  He said, “No, no . . . from a past life!” People around me that I had mentioned this past life connection to Egypt previously were blown away!

I continue to tell people I’m living a fairy tale that keeps unfolding before me in the most amazing ways.  My dream is to create a place where others can self-discover themselves through entertainment, which is what Fantasy of Flight and Orlampa are all about, although we’ve not yet morphed into what we will become.  Keep an eye on our progress.

As far as my book goes, I’m pretty much done with the introduction and the first ten chapters and have been trying to find the time to finish the summary.  There is so much information, it’s like hearding a bunch of cats!  I’ve begun to let several other people read it for for editing purposes.

I’m hoping when my book finally comes out they won’t lock me up in a padded cell!  We’ll see.  I always heard if you were poor and crazy you were senile . . . but if you were well-off and crazy . . . then you were eccentric!

Kermit

I recently got a chance to stop in England and check up on the progress of one of my ongoing restoration projects.  The Tempest V is a rare WWI British fighter plane powered by an equally rare 2,400 hp Napier Sabre engine.  To my knowledge there are only two of these aircraft in existance, the other being at the RAF Museum in Hendon, England.  I also understand there are only about ten examples of the 24-cylinder sleeve-valve Napier Sabre engine in the world, with only two in private hands . . . mine!

With one of my rare Napier Sabre engines!

The fuselage is slowly undergoing restoration with attention to replacing, treating, and preserving all the aluminum and tube structures.  Wing and tail fairings have been made with only final fitting needed.  As mentioned before in earlier blog posts, the cockpit details are currently being gathered with the option of later restoring everything to airworthy condition.  Currently no systems work has been done, i.e. wiring, instruments or coolant pipes.  All airframe work to date has been done to airworthy condition.

The wings are progressing nicely with the landing gear installed and are in the process of final skinning.  Flaps, ailerons and fuel tanks are close behind.

Wing Leading Edge Fuel Tank as original

My main goal right now is to continue with the airframe work, gather everything up, and paint it for static display with one day having the option of tackling the systems and the engine.  To my knowledge, a Tempest V has not been seen flying since the early 1950′s, let alone anyone having heard a Napier Sabre engine run!

Kermit

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