Will It Fly On the 100th Anniversary?
by ANN Correspondent Jeff Pierson
Will it fly in 2009... and just how high? Some say it will be
finished "when it is finished" and just fly in ground effect.
Others suggest that the 100 year anniversary -- two years
from now -- is an alluring goal, and 22 miles (40 km) over
water is a proper re-enactment.
Re-creation has just begun at Airventure. This week you can see
daily propeller carving...with a chain-saw! The electric chain saw
did not exist in 1909, but volunteer Jerry Thornhill wields one
with great aplomb, launching chips as he shapes the custom
propeller for EAA's Blériot project. Five plies of mahogany,
totaling 4 ¼ inches (11 cm) thick, are hewn into a propeller
about 7 feet long (215 cm).
Parts of this airplane will hit Mach 0.437 -- the propeller
tips, as they swing at a leisurely 1400 rpm. Jerry has been carving
props for 30 years, and once produced a nine-footer in one
week under duress, but at his tent workshop he carves when an
audience appears, anytime between 9 am and 3 pm.
Two steps away in the same shop, another woodworker conjures
clouds of finer sawdust. The fuselage will consist of "about 32
pieces", says volunteer Gordy Selke. He has just begun shaping
them, carving the vertical crosspieces with a spindle sander.
About sixty paces north in the wingbuilding area, volunteers Ken
and Helene Terrio have already lovingly finished ten of the twenty
four ribs needed for the Blériot wing. Pieces of the
remaining ribs have been sawn and sanded, so visit now to see the
gluing and clamping.
The project foreman, A & P Gary Beuttner, says the copper
fuel tank has been finished. Gary works part-time for EAA on such
projects. A 25 hp Anzani engine arrived in parts carried to Oshkosh
from France last year, in the personal luggage of the French
donors. It will be assembled by Ted Mosman, who conjures such bits
into motive power at the Kermit Weeks Hangar.
About that overwater re-enactment... Blériot's grandson
Louis got wet on the 90 year anniversary only two minutes after
This week is the opportunity for Airventure attendees to see
history in the re-making. You can bet this story has just