EAA AirVenture Oshkosh - The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration
 
 
   
   

[ NEWS ]

  Latest News
  Awards / Group Photos
  Media Room
   
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedFirst war aircraft replicas illuminate pilots
By Frederick A. Johnsen
 

Pilot Andrew King say their collection is meant to invoke the aura of First War fighters while using modern materials and engines to make these replicas feasible to fly.

The ravages of World War I and subsequent razing of so much of Europe in World War II destroyed all original Fokker triplanes. Several latter-day homebuilders created workable plans, and new-build triplanes have been aloft for several decades.

Four First World War replica fighters at AirVenture 2010 are here as a homage to the specific pilots who flew the originals, and to pay tribute to all who flew in World War I.
Colorado's Vintage Aero Flying Museum (VAFM) began as the collecting dream of executive director Andy Parks' grandfather, himself a World War I veteran.

In a 180-degree twist on typical museum collecting, he and Andy started with the memorabilia and then used it to inform their collecting policy for full-size flying replicas of the very aircraft these early warriors flew, right down to personalized markings.

AirVenture visitors will see the Parks' original aircraft acquisition, a replica biplane Fokker D-VII, parked with a monoplane Fokker D-VIII, a British S.E.-5a from Oklahoma enthusiast Jack Kearbey, and a familiar red Fokker Dr-I triplane.

Parks and fellow pilot Andrew King say their collection is meant to invoke the aura of First War fighters while using modern materials and engines to make these replicas feasible to fly, both at the home field and across the United States. The originals had tailskids; several of these replicas have small tail wheels - a must for paved runways and taxiways.

World War I powerplants are the trifecta of trouble: rare, expensive, and harder to keep airworthy. So VAFM uses modern engines, masked as much as possible behind original-looking cowlings. The D-VII biplane rides behind an American Ranger inline engine, which necessitated a slight fuselage extension plus the addition of 40 pounds of ballast in the nose, King said. The Fokker triplane mounts a Lycoming radial engine of 180 horsepower, giving it a margin of safety suited to the high Colorado altitude where it spends most of its time.

Museum representatives told a gathering of AirVenture 2010 visitors the thing that makes the Fokker triplane such a good fighter is its relative instability. Stable airplanes require more control inputs, hence more time in a split-second environment, to overcome that stability to maneuver in a dogfight. Engineers have long known this phenomenon; modern computerized fly-by-wire fighters lack inherent stability, relying on computers to keep them stable until the pilot commands a quick maneuver. But the simple old Fokker lacks stability-inducing dihedral (upsweep) in its triple-decker wings. Its manual controls must be manipulated constantly by the pilot. "You let go of the controls and it may go left, it may go right, it may go up, it may go down," one of the pilots explained. "It's a great flying airplane. It's just not a cross-country airplane."

The ravages of World War I and subsequent razing of so much of Europe in World War II destroyed all original Fokker triplanes. Several latter-day homebuilders created workable plans, and new-build triplanes have been aloft for several decades. The Fokker Dr-I replica in the EAA Museum was built by Walt Redfern using plans he devised. Anthony Fokker embraced simplicity in construction; all three wings have the same chord, and use basically one size rib. There's a hardware solution evident on the triplane replica at AirVenture that recreates a German field modification: wooden ax handles run parallel to the undersides of the lowest wingtips, acting as skids to prevent groundloop damage. Fokker subsequently used this simple fix on the production line, Parks said.

The Vintage Aero Flying Museum brought rare artifacts from World War I fliers to display in a tent adjacent to the aircraft. Like properly aged wine, the essence of this exhibit is distinct from any collection of World War II or more modern memorabilia and aircraft. A silver cigarette case autographed in 1918 by Manfred von Richtofen, Hermann Goering, and other German pilots of the day complements a piece of fabric from the Red Baron's triplane; an original fin and rudder from a 1918 Fokker D-VIII broods darkly in one corner, its original finish still sporting a factory Fokker decal.

When not engaging audiences at major aviation events, the people and planes of Vintage Aero Flying Museum show their treasures at their museum on Platte Valley Airport near Denver.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
Copyright © 2014 EAA, Inc.
All content, logos, pictures, and videos are the property of the EAA, Inc.
EAA Aviation Center, 3000 Poberezny Road, Oshkosh, WI 54902
If you have any comments or questions contact webmaster@eaa.org.
Disclaimer/Privacy Policy