Unbelievably, several weeks ago someone broke into one of our offsite storage facilites and stole the engine off my Weeks Solution biplane! By chance, one of my mechanics happened to be in the facility the next morning and noticed a bunch of oil on the floor. Since most of the airplanes in storage are in pieces, he didn’t initially notice the whole front end of the airplane was missing until he saw some of the engine cowling lying about.
Apparently, the perpetrators had previously broken in and staked the place out first. It is all you can do to walk through as it is packed with almost no floorspace. They must have decided the only thing they could get out the door with any value was my engine so, they came back and actually cut it off the engine mount! No small feat since there’s no lights or electricity in the building. It would have taken at least three people to get it off, drag it 30 feet out the door, and then lift the 300 lb. engine into the back of a small pickup truck.
The police came out the next morning, we filed a report, and there was a LOT of press including, two news stations, several papers, a magazine, and a radio station. I’m sure it was thieves in the local area and the engine is probably destined for an airboat, because without the log books the engine could not be used in an airplane without an overhaul.
I designed and built the airplane myself and first test flew it in 1980. I flew it in competitions around the world until it was highly damaged by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. I’m sure the thieves had no idea the historical value of the engine, as it powered me to become a two-time US National Aerobatic Champion and win 12 medals in four World Aerobatic Championships.
We notified every engine builder and airboat shop in the area as well as the Fish & Wildlife agency so everyone is on the lookout. It is a six-cylinder 300 hp. Lycoming IO-540, serial number L 8000-48 with a non-standard sump on it. Most Lycoming engines are painted grey but mine was black.
If you happen to run across it, and can help me get it back intact, I’m offering a $5000 reward. Thanks for your interest and please pass the word!