First Christen Eagle II Is Oshkosh-Bound
Prototype donated to EAA museum
N2FC as it appeared in the early 1980s. – Photo credit - Baron Wolman
Dick (Butch) Pfeifer with N2FC before departing Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Wednesday morning, October 26.
October 26, 2011 – An airplane that was important to the growth of the homebuilt kit aircraft industry is on its way to Oshkosh, where it will take its rightful place among the EAA AirVenture Museum collection. The prototype Christen Eagle II, Frank Christensen’s powerful and nimble aerobatic biplane designed in the 1970s, departed from California Tuesday with longtime builder and airline pilot Dick (Butch) Pfeifer, EAA 42135, at the controls. Plane and pilot are expected to arrive Thursday morning at KOSH.
Christensen, EAA Lifetime 36663/IAC 90, said he always wanted Oshkosh to be the ultimate destination for N2FC. “Tom Poberezny and I talked over the last couple of years about my donating the airplane to the EAA Museum,” he said. “That’s where it belongs.” The Eagle II was the landmark kit aircraft in that it was the first marketed as a complete set of parts. Its arrival was heralded in a four-page advertising spread in the December 1977 EAA Sport Aviation. (Click here.)
He designed it based on the Pitts Special as an unlimited aerobatic competition aircraft that could be used as an advanced aerobatic trainer as well as sport cross-country flying.
Christensen said all flight tests for the Eagle II were done in this aircraft, FAA registration No. N2FC. Later it served as the centerpiece of Christensen’s large exhibit at air shows like Oshkosh. On Saturdays he would invite pilots to fly into his air strip at manufacturing facility in Hollister, California, where he’d perform flight demos. The strategy was successful; between 800 and 1,000 complete kits were delivered, Christensen said, and a high percentage of them have been completed. The company was sold to Aviat in the early 1990s.
“I would say I put about 500-600 hours on the airplane,” Christensen said, although he hasn’t flown it in about 15 years. For the past 11 years N2FC was on loan for display at the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, California, and Pfeifer was tasked with getting it airworthy for the Oshkosh flight. Throughout its lifetime, it had been meticulously maintained and updated to reflect the current equipment available in the kit. The airplane was re-covered once, in 1980, he said.
Although this will be the EAA collection’s first Eagle II, it’s not its first Christen Eagle in the collection; the three Eagle I single-place models, custom-built for the Eagles Aerobatic team of Tom Poberezny, Gene Soucy, and the late Charlie Hillard, hang in the entryway of the AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh. That team performed in the distinctive airplanes for almost two decades.
N2FC will be displayed in the Aerobatics Gallery.