Multiple Representatives Are Bringing The Franklin Engine Back To Life
By Tom Woodward
The Battle of Franklin was fought in 1864 with 10,000 casualties. Today the battle of the Franklin engine continues here at Oshkosh.
For those who have flown behind the Franklin you know the smoothness and throaty rumble that is music to the senses. Franklin engines have been used in Helicopters, aircraft such as the Seabee and the Norton flying wing, Stinsons and even several cars of the Franklin brand as well as the Tucker automobile. Over the years Franklin built engine from the 4 cylinder AC-199 up to the 12 cylinder 12ac-595. However, new engine have been nonexistent for many years and parts are becoming more scarce. Two vendors here at Oshkosh are trying to reverse that.
Roman Sadowski (pictured), President of Franklin sp.z o.o., flew to Oshkosh from Grudziadz, Poland to assure the Franklin enthusiasts that his company is currently providing parts for Franklin engines from his Poland factory and his newly opened factory in Florida and will soon be manufacturing new engines. Mr Sadowski said through his interpreter that he has obtained the Type Certificate from WSK PZL Rzeszow which has held the TC for many years without producing a single part. Mr. Sadowski himself, has had the TC for several years and now seems to be serious about putting it to use and the reason may be because of Kelly Bartlett and George Gillespie.
Kelly Bartlett is President and George Gillespie is Chairman of Franklin Aircraft Engines USA LLC. These men along with Susan Prall, who as individually kept the Stinson aircraft and Franklin engines owners supplied with parts for a couple of decades, are making their bid to resurrect the Franklin engine and to again manufacture them here in the USA. Mr Gillespie told me that he has secured financing of 8 million dollars and is seeking an additional 2 million dollars to make it happen. They are doing this through a unique program called the "Franklin Engine Company Founders Club", where upon joining with a $15,000 fee you will become a member of a club that will own 10 percent of the company and will enjoy 10 percent of the net earnings on an annual basis. You will also receive a $5,000 line of credit towards the purchase of Franklin engine parts.
The current problem, and it might be a large one, is that Mr. Gillespie's company doesn't own the Type Certificate, but not for lack of trying. During Sun-n-Fun, a meeting was arranged between the principles but no agreement was reach to buy the TC from Mr. Sadowski. Here at Air Venture the two sides haven't even met and according to Mr. Gillespie he is in the process of obtaining all the manufacturing data and drawings from the Government under the Freedom of Information act and will attempt to obtain a Supplemental Type certificate if he can't buy one.
So the Battle of Franklin rages on and unless each company shoots the other out of the water it can only benefit Franklin engine owners, and again beautiful music will be heard from the skies.