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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedA veritable "Chippie" reunion
By Randy Dufault
 
Chipmunks in the wild are nimble, diminutive creatures with a streak of cute that runs from nose to tail. Maybe that's why de Havilland Canada chose the name "Chipmunk" for its inaugural product, the DHC-1.

It's agile, nimble, with a streak of cute as long as its fuselage. And AirVenture 2010 boasts more than your typical crowd of these capable birds.
Not counting at least one used as an aerobatic show ship, nine examples of the venerable de Havilland Chipmunk visited EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010.

"That's the most we've ever had," said Vic Stottlemyer, owner of one of the birds.

"They call it a poor man's Spitfire," he added about the trainer. "And with that long skinny nose you can dream a bit.

"A lot of the instruments are the same, but the numbers on the airspeed indicator are significantly different."

For several decades after the Second World War, budding military pilots in Canada, the United Kingdom and several other countries, were introduced to flight in the fixed-gear taildragger affectionately referred to as the "Chippie".

"It's a plus-six, minus-three G airplane so you can do loops and rolls and spins and all that kind of stuff," Stottlemyer said.

"What these things are known for is being beautiful handling machines. That's why early on Harold Krier and Art Scholl used them for their aerobatic routines.

"They are just known for being a lovely flying airplane."

Birth of a legend…
As the war was winding down Sir Geoffrey de Havilland was looking for a more modern trainer to replace the Gypsy Moth biplane. Design duties for the project ultimately were assigned to de Havilland in Canada, and to Wsiewolod Jakimiuk, a Polish engineer who managed to escape the German invasion of his native country.

The resulting craft is a tandem two seater with the distinctive de Havilland tail.

Power comes from a four-cylinder Gypsy Major 10 engine. Plants in Canada, Great Britain and Portugal produced nearly 1,300 copies of the design.

Stottlemyer's Chipmunk is a 1952 British-made model. It served with two different British training squadrons before being shipped for training service with the Ghana air forces.

Although the Ghanaian markings on the plane differed only in the color of the roundels from the British scheme, he returned the craft to its original British livery.

The balance of the plane is very original.

"The interior is exactly as it was," Stottlemyer said. "The only thing I have put in is a comm radio underneath the panel and a transponder over my left shoulder. Otherwise it is exactly the way that it was … and it still has the old P11 compass in front of the stick."

Keepin' em flying…
According to Stottlemyer, support for the planes is remarkable for such an old type.

"BAE Systems has a small subsidiary called the de Havilland Support Group," he said. "It is based at Duxford in England. They issue the Airworthiness Directives and Technical New Sheets.

"Essentially they are the manufacturer's representative for these airplanes and they are wonderful people to work with.

"Their mission is to keep these things flying and flying safely. We are lucky to have that kind of support.

"I can't say enough about them."

Even though the airplane is a simple design with not too much to fail, finding parts is not a large challenge for a Chipmunk owner.

"Parts are not as plentiful as for some of the American types," Stottlemyer said, "but there is a worldwide network if you need to find them."

When asked about how much he gets to fly his classic trainer, Stottlemyer said just as often as time and money allow. "There's just so much history in these things."

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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