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Thread: a good wood project for teen builders

  1. #1

    a good wood project for teen builders

    I have a group of teens I work with every week at the St. Louis Science Center. I am a longtime wooden boatbuilder. I have recently, because of Covid furloughs, become manager of the Aerospace group as well as my Engineering group (robotics and a makerspace).

    I'm looking for a long-term project in which I can combine the two components and build a full scale aircraft of wood, not to fly but to display, hung from the ceiling in the main building. Where should I look for advice on an appropriate build?

    We have a number of companies in town who may help with the funding if it is an interesting build. As most of my teens are African-American, I thought of the Tuskegee Airmen and their planes: Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Bell P-39 Airacobras, Republic P-47 Thunderbolts and the North American P-51 Mustang.

    Any suggestions?

    Bill Stanard

  2. #2
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Everyone here is no doubt rolling their eyes, but I am going to recommend the Bowers Fly Baby.


    It's a classic wood airplane, designed to be built in a typical garage with table saw and band saw. Over 500 have been built since 1960.

    Even better, EAA makes the instructions for building the plane available for free, to members. The designer wrote a 14-part series, published in EAA's Sport Aviation magazine, on how to build the airplane. A few years later, EAA combined the articles into a single book...and you can now download the entire book for free if you're an EAA member.

    Go to:

    https://www.eaa.org/eaa/aircraft-bui...d---g/fly-baby

    ...and you'll see the link to download the book.

    In addition, the Fly Baby community has put together a series of guides on how to use the articles/book to build a Fly Baby. You can access this information, for free, at:

    http://www.bowersflybaby.com/PB100/index.html

    There are several Fly Baby owners in the St. Louis area, and I'm sure they'd love to show their airplanes to your students.

    One of the neat things about the Fly Baby is that cosmetic changes, to make it look like other aircraft, are fairly simple. The May 2018th issue of SPORT AVIATION had an article about Richard Borgerding's Fly Baby, which has a canopy and a raised turtledeck.
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    Right from the start, this looked to be a good layout for a fake P-40. One could be painted like the original Tuskegee Airmen P-40s, or a "Red Tails" paint job could be applied.
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    Ron Wanttaja

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    Pietenpol!

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    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Minimax, easy to build either by plans or with kits.

    https://www.teammini-max.com/

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    Sam Buchanan
    The RV Journal RV-6 build log
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    YouTube Channel

  5. #5
    Thanks so much, Ron... what a great place to start my search. I especially like the idea that we adopt the "red tail" of the later P-40s or the paint scheme of the original. That would be a wonderful choice for the teens to make! The fact that there is so much material in support of the build is another plus. My first wooden boat build was supported by a great book that had been assembled from a series of articles. Boy, do pictures help focus one's vision!

    I assume I would find local Fly Baby owners through the bowersflybaby.com website, right?

    Samuel, I have been devouring the many Pietenpol videos, and I was yesterday in touch with Andrew Pietenpol via phone chatting about the instruction manual. Thanks for reinforcing my good vibes about Pietenpols.

    Sam, Thanks for the pointer toward the MiniMax designs. I'll add them to my list.

  6. #6
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bstanard View Post
    I assume I would find local Fly Baby owners through the bowersflybaby.com website, right?
    Email me at ron@wanttaja.com; I can put you in touch with some.

    I'll ping the guys on the mailing list and Facebook page. Got one volunteer for you, already.

    Ron Wanttaja
    Last edited by rwanttaja; 06-16-2020 at 08:58 AM.

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    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    I missed the obvious one... the Loehle 5151 Mustang.

    The company's not in business anymore, but you might be able to find plans for sale. Hardware like the bubble canopy would be tough to come up with, but you could modify it into a P-51B.

    Ron Wanttaja

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    Since your working with African American youth I suggest you look into Neil Loving's Love. The all wood prototype is on display in the EAA Museum, may have to search for plans, but they are out there.




  9. #9
    Thanks, Ron. The Mustang's a beauty... I'll start looking around for plans. Do you know if the red tail in the photo is in honor of the Tuskegee pilots? I'll get an email to you tomorrow.

    And thanks to you, ulpilot. I've just ordered the Loving book from Amazon!

    You guys are great!

  10. #10
    As an update, I've purchased the plans for the Falconar SAL Mustang, also called the 2/3 Mustang. The SAL P-51D Mustang is a Canadian designed amateur-built aircraft, produced by Falconar Avia and introduced in 1969. The aircraft is a ​2⁄3 scale replica of the North American P-51 Mustang and is supplied as plans for amateur construction by Manna Aviation in Australia. I've put together an online Google Classroom course as a lead in to when we can meet in person to start construction. In the meantime, the teens will build the stick & tissue Guillows model P-51 at home in preparation, study measurement, how to read and draw plans, and learn some basics about aircraft construction. As this will be just a display for the Science Center, we won't be powering it or making many of the moving pieces of it actually move. This should cut down the build time to a manageable period.

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