EAA Member Builds Curtiss Pusher Replica
Project completed to coincide with 2010 Idaho Centennial of Flight
Dean Wilson (Left) and Jim Otey (Right) built the Curtiss Pusher from plans found in an attic.
All Photos courtesy Barry Kough
September 2, 2010 — Two Idaho homebuilding enthusiasts recently completed and flew a replica of a 1909 Herring-Curtiss Pusher Model D, which was the first aircraft flown in State of Idaho. The Idaho Centennial of Flight takes place in October of this year (2010) and Jim Otey, EAA26863, of Lewiston, Idaho, and his project partner Dean Wilson, of nearby Clarkston, Washington, spent two years building the aircraft with the assistance of a set of drawings an area elder found in a family home he was helping clean out.
Wilson is the creator of the Avid Flyer and converted most of the drawings to usable plans and oversaw the construction of the project. The builders also consulted the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum in New York. They used a Continental O-200 that turns a custom-built prop, which is 79 inches by 30 inches, producing 470 pounds of thrust as measured on Jim’s Champ using a large commercial spring scale.
According to an e-mail from Jim, “The machine flies beyond our expectations in stability and control. Takeoff comes about six seconds after application of power. Climb is very comfortable at a climb speed of about 40 to 45 as indicated by an ultralight air speed indicator which is attached to the bamboo canard push-pull rod. Cruise is at about 45 to 50 using about 1900 RPM. Reduction in power to about 1500 RPM results in a gentle decent and landing.”
Dean made the first flight, which lasted four minutes, and proved the stability and control of the aircraft. It has now been flown about eight times and it has performed so well that no more test flights are needed. Frank Miles, president of EAA Chapter 328 in Lewiston says that while the aircraft was not a chapter project, many chapter members assisted in its construction.Jim says they aircraft is museum quality and he hopes it finds a permanent home after the celebrations this fall.
Tom Willis, an at-large DAR and volunteer EAA Technical Counselor, has been working with Otey and Wilson on the certification. “This is an amateur-built project that I have been privileged to be associated with this past year as EAA Technical Counselor At-Large and finally as FAA Designated Airworthiness Representative in August for the Airworthiness inspection and FAA certification of the aircraft.”