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Thread: Building a Nieuport 11...

  1. #981

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    It is a big deal, and I feel like I've failed to communicate my attitude towards it properly.

    First, when adversity strikes, I've always looked at it, learned what I could from it, and then moved forward.

    Endless second guessing and "what ifs" are, in my experience, useless endeavors. Could I have been killed or seriously injured? Absolutely. Should I let that fact alter my goals and aspirations? For me, that's a no. I'm just not built that way.

    Second, I always look at what's still good when faced with adversity rather than focus on what's bad - not just in this matter, but in all matters.

    It's easy to look at my poor little Nieuport and give a list of all the things that were broken - longerons, gear, cowl, etc. - and throw up one's hands.

    It's just as easy to take a second look and see what's still good - a lot of tubing, the elevator push-pull rod, nuts and bolts, two wings, tail feathers, instruments, and on and on - and work from there.

    In the strip down process, if something looks remotely questionable, into the scrap pile it goes. If not, why not re-use it?

    The aircraft design itself is sound, and there are hundreds of examples (including the Graham Lee versions) that have flown and are still flying. Indeed, where one might see a mangled mess on the side of the road, I see and aircraft that - thanks to it's tube and gusset design - crumpled nicely to protect me from serious harm. The fact that there has been only one fatality in type (flight number one, with a bunch of factors involved) went into my decision to build it in the first place.

    Would it be safer to build a Carbon Cub or an RV-7? Dunno. Maybe. But neither fit what I want an aircraft for.

    The facts of the matter are that I somehow went through seven gallons of fuel in thirty-five minutes, which screams fuel leak (at least to me and the FAA man), leaving me 3,000 feet up with a stilled propeller. I did that which was required to ensure my safety and those on the ground the best I could - and since I'm here typing, it serves to validate my decisions on landing point. Say what one will about my abilities as a pilot - I never shy from the fact that at 135 hours behind a stick I'm still learning - but on that day I was on my game.

    Was I lucky? Yes and no. I sure put a lot of my chips into the "lucky" column to where the outcome of the forced landing was going to be in my favor.

    I flew her all the way down and landed on top of that tree. The plane had almost no forward momentum when she came down from it, and when she did, she was level to the ground (though pinwheeling a bit).

    I put her down next to a road that had light traffic on it. Should I have needed serious assistance, help was a cell phone and an ambulance away; there would be no searching for me.

    I let the design of the aircraft work for me. Having two big ol' collapsible wings making a cage around me as well as fuselage that would likewise collapse goes a long way to reducing G forces on a sudden stop. Where one might look at a Z shaped landing gear strut and cluck, it warmed my heart to see it.

    Light, collapsible design + low momentum = "luck."

    Indeed, rather than looking at the picture and saying "wow, maybe a different design is in order," my thoughts are "wow, there is no way I want to wreck in anything else."

    Know what would have been unlucky? Taking on the power lines or the road with traffic on it. Shooting for a remote field with a fence across it. Trying to extend or shorten the glide for a marginally better landing spot. Trying to stretch to Pell City and winding up in the lake.

    As to an aircraft with "a history of crashes," well, I'm not looking for resale value. When I'm done with her, she'll either be donated to hang from someplace's ceiling or recycled into beer cans.

    [edit]

    And will I improve the fuel system to prevent what we suspect happened (that in high turbulence I most likely kicked the barbed fuel fitting at the bottom of the tank, which is placed to where that can happen)? Most definitely. I was wearing my steel toed work boots that day, so I could do that without feeling it. Then again, judging from the dents at the bottom of the fuel tank, those boots probably saved me from broken toes.
    Last edited by Frank Giger; 08-28-2019 at 06:55 AM.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  2. #982
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Frank, I appreciate your determination to continue your aviation journey and ability to see the positive in a very adverse situation.

    However.....your little aircraft is totalled.....no other way to objectively describe it. You may indeed decide to "repair" it...but you are going to be building a new airplane. I would be very concerned about the condition of the pulled rivets in areas of the airframe that appear undamaged. It could be difficult to determine if those rivets have lost any of their original tension after being subjected to unanticipated stresses during the sudden stop at ground level. It would be far better to apply the knowledge learned during the construction and flying of your aircraft to a new flying carpet where you can reset the clock to zero. Your engine and instruments will fly very nicely in a new, fresh airframe.

    I know that probably isn't where you want to go...I'm just looking at the situation without the emotional investment you understandably carry into your decision.

    Best wishes!
    Last edited by Sam Buchanan; 08-28-2019 at 07:25 AM.
    Sam Buchanan
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  3. #983

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    No rivets can be re-used. They're all pop rivets. A lot of the tubing can be re-used. But not a single rivet.

    And Sam, I think we're all talking past each other. Of course it's a new airplane...but in the rules of aviation, with the same data plate and N-number, it's a repair.

    Last edited by Frank Giger; 08-28-2019 at 07:26 AM.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  4. #984
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Giger View Post
    No rivets can be re-used. They're all pop rivets.

    And Sam, I think we're all talking past each other. Of course it's a new airplane...but in the rules of aviation, with the same data plate and N-number, it's a repair.

    Fair enough.
    Sam Buchanan
    The RV Journal RV-6 build log
    Fokker D.VII semi-replica build log

  5. #985

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    A prime example of what I'm talking about is the turtle deck stringers.

    Of the five long tubes, two of them are bent - one of them hopelessly so.

    I'll re-use three of them, as well as the rear mount they attach to (with new rivets, of course).
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  6. #986

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    My plan of attack is after stripping everything thus:

    Fuselage - completely disassemble, figure out what's still good, put it to the side, take the scrap to the recycler, and rebuild it. It's pretty much a from-scratch build process, as the longerons and a lot of the support tubes are toast. The tail wheel design is going to be improved. Once that's on new gear, move to the wings.

    Wings - the right wings are a complete do-over, with not much more than the bolts able to be saved. Maybe a rib or two, and the drag/anti-drag fittings can be re-used. The left wings will be stripped and inspected, and I think I'm going to take off the leading edges and re-do them in a different technique. That way they won't look like I routinely fly through hail storms.

    Tail feathers: strip and inspect. There isn't so much as a wrinkle in the fabric on the horizontal stab, elevator, or rudder. I may not even strip the rudder.

    Engine: Tear down and inspect. I might put the other crankshaft in it, as it's balanced better than the one in there now, and I can put on a better engine seal. Hopefully the head and the case came out without any damage. It took a big enough whack to bend the engine mount, so who knows?

    I'm figuring three grand for repairs, with a *gulp" budget of five. If I wind up replacing the engine, well, that's where the upper limit comes from.

    Then it's cover, paint, and put her back into test phase. The FAA man said it's up to me for how long to put it there, and I don't have to notify them about it.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  7. #987
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    I like the way you think Frank. It's unique in aviation. Actually, it's getting to be pretty unique overall. But I like it. If I can escape sometime this fall or winter, I'll drop in to check on your rebuild. Mike will know when I'm gonna be around.


    -Cub Builder

  8. #988
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Frank, I bet Robert can put together a "repair kit" to which you can attach your data plate and N-number......
    Sam Buchanan
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  9. #989
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    This news was a real bummer. Glad Frank's OK, but his plans to repair the airplane remind me of the WWI flying song, "The Bold Aviator".....

    Oh, the bold aviator was dying
    And as 'neath the wreckage he lay, he lay
    To the sobbing mechanics about him
    These last parting words he did say

    "Take the cylinders out of my kidneys
    The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain
    From the small of my back get the crankshaft
    And assemble the engine again"


    Ron "Glad it didn't have to go that far" Wanttaja

  10. #990

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Buchanan View Post
    Frank, I bet Robert can put together a "repair kit" to which you can attach your data plate and N-number......
    Finally folks are starting to get my drift on the repairs!

    The thought did occur to me - just plunk down the 8K for a new "kit" and repair away! But there's just too much good left for that, and a lot of his cost is hardware.

    Indeed, Robert called me up a day or so after the forced landing and let me know he stands ready to supply anything I'm going to need (after asking about how I was doing).

    However, if the engine is toast I'm going to simply call Valley Engineering and have them put together another one for me.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

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