Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What the heck is "Dry Rigging"

I don't know if it is the correct terminology or not, but Dad always considered one of the most important steps in aircraft restoration to be the "Dry Rigging" check. What is this you ask? Well before you go to the trouble of covering your airplane with fabric, you take the opportunity to fully assemble the airplane and make sure everything aligns, fits, and works properly. You'd hate to find out after your fabric finishing job that the N-struts no longer align in their mount holes because of those newly built lower wings. Seriously, you can do all of your preliminary rigging of the wing wash-out/wash-in, landing gear alignment, control cable function etc. It will save a lot of headaches in the latter stages of the rebuild.

This step in the process is also a good emotional boost as you transition into the final stages of work. Once you see that whole airplane coming together, you can't help yourself from making engine noises and picturing yourself lifting off the grass on your very first takeoff.

Monday, January 17, 2011

1918 "Flyin' Frolic" Love Field, Dallas TX

The end of WW 1 was celebrated Texas style on November 12 and 13, 1918 in Dallas Texas at Love Field Air Corps Training Depot. This event, dubbed "Flyin' Frolic" was attended by thousands. Aerial exhibitions were enjoyed as well as other technological marvels of the day.

Here are a few photographs from a collection given to my dad in the 1970's by a friend Charles "Uncle Charley" Dawson. Some of these photos were placed in the Air Power Museum back in the 1970's by dad.
Click on the images to enlarge...

Lt. William T Campbell and the Curtiss Jenny
in which he performed 169 consecutive Loops

Historical Records:

This DallasNews.com article by Robert Miller (Jan.16,2008) gives an excellent overview of the event and also highlights the artwork of Walter Matt Jefferies and the subject exhibit placed in the Frontiers of Flight Museum, by Matt's brother, Richard Jefferies.

Copies of the beautiful "Flyin' Frolic" images painted by Matt Jefferies for display at the Pentagon may be acquired through Richard Jefferies at this webpage dedicated to the works of Matt Jefferies.

In 2005, the University of Texas at Dallas featured a lecture by Dr. Erik D. Carlson called: “The Flyin’ Frolic: U.S. Military Aviation, Love Field and the End of World War I,”. This webpage details the lecture event.

Some more photographs from this event are on file at the Dallas Municipal Archives. Go to their related website here.

The book, "Winning Causes: World War Stories" by John Gilbert Thompson and Inez Bigwood also covers this topic with a unique Aerial Parachute Photograph available here.


As time permits, I plan to work at getting better quality scans of these photos. But for now, these are the best I have. I think most of this blog's readers will enjoy these.

Notice the American flags flying off each airplane's left wingtip.

I counted 53 Jennys in this photograph!!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cabin Wacos

photo by Tom Eggert - click on photo to enlarge

My friend Tom Eggert in Minnesota recently sent me this great photo of his beautiful Waco YKS-7 taken along with Waco ZQC-6 (NC2277) in the foreground. What a nice picture! Two Gorgeous Cabin Wacos from Minnesota. I am so looking forward to flying with Tom in his Waco someday.

The C-6 holds a special place in our family's memories. Now owned by David Schroeder in Eagan MN, NC2277 came into the Bowden family in 1978. Dad and I drug it home on a trailer from Ponder Texas. The story goes that this airplane was crash-landed on the bottomland of the Red River in the late 1960's after an in-flight fire. The owner/pilot at that time was Jack House. The lower wings and landing gear had been wiped out. The basket of remaining parts had been stored and passed around for over a decade. By the time dad bought it, there was no wood to be found for the fuselage. There were no lower wings. No landing gear, No engine. Some cowling parts. A real basket case.

NC2277 taken in the 1950's. photo credit: AAHS Archives

In-flight photos by Terry Bowden, shot from a Cessna 172D photo plane.

Dad and I built the lower wings from scratch using pictures as a guide, a rib jig we got from a friend, and a wing sketch on 8 X 10 sheet of paper. Dad absorbed himself in this airplane for thousands of hours over a 5+ year period. Among the improvements we made, was an engine change to 275 hp Jacobs (it was formerly a 350 hp Wright powered ship). The engine swap included a modified Cessna 195 "dyna-focal" engine mount which made this one of the smoothest Wacos around. After making the mistake of using VW Beetle brakes, we later installed a set of Cleveland wheels and brakes with a locking tailwheel, which finally made it somewhat controllable on the ground. Those '36 Wacos have a narrow gear and with 100 gallons of fuel in the upper wing, you really have a ground-loop sensitive airplane. The C-6 is one airplane that requires a good set of brakes.

Dad spent hours and hours on the finer details of this airplane. I can remember how the strut farings were literally made over and over again until finally getting them just right. Dad was generous with soundproofing, all glass windshield, custom-made woodwork with inlaid trim on the instrument panel... a really nice interior. First flight after restoration was in 1984.

In comparison to the F17D Staggerwing we later had, the Waco was quieter, cooler, and more comfortable in the cabin. Great for long trips. The unique paint job on this airplane was copied from a factory sketch that remained with the airplane paperwork. Dad corresponded with Ray Brandley who recalled the original colors which were custom-ordered by the Schweitzer Cummins corp in 1936. Mom and Dad flew this airplane to Blakesburg IA, Bartlesville, OK, and other fly-ins over the years and really enjoyed how it flew.

I am glad to see that Mr. Schroeder is taking good care of ol' NC2277.

Our first Waco was a YKS-6, NC16507. Dad bought it in 1977. We kept this airplane for a couple of years... rejuvenated the fabric, replaced some of the interior, did a top overhaul and fixed a TON of leaks on the 245 Jake. It was a sweet flier. We dont have many photos of this airplane. When it sold it went out to the West Coast. It is still on the FAA registry in Rosamond Calif.

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