It's about time for an update on our Venture Crew 50 activities with regard to our FP-101 ultralight project! We're very, very close to finishing the restoration of our 1940 Case VC farm tractor so it was time to start getting the airplane ready for work. If you've read this thread you'll see that we received the airplane as a donation from a very generous pilot in Iowa. I drove out there last fall and brought the airframe back to our base at the Succop Conservancy in Butler, PA. The airframe, including the fuselage, tail feathers, one complete wing, parts of the second wing, and some miscellaneous items, was cleverly packed into a trailer that was built to carry the COMPLETED plane. All we have to do is remove the sides of the trailer and the plane will be able to roll right on with a special fixture to lock down the tail. That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that we will not be able to restore this aircraft to flight status for a number of very good reasons.
First, we're just not comfortable with the condition of or materials used in the airframe. While it's still fairly sound there are lots of cracks, small breaks, and other minor damage that adds up to an airframe that would need a complete rebuild. Also, it's apparent from our examination of the airframe that it was made at least in part from a packing crate. Some components have an address stamped on them and the plywood is definitely not aviation grade.
Second, the cost of an engine to power this plane, either a small Rotax or 1/2 VW, is beyond our budget. We may reconsider this point on our next project, but for this plane it isn't feasible for us to come up with a powerplant.
Third, the plane is a single-seater and Scout regulations would prevent our members from flying it.
So what are we going to do with the plane? We think we've come up with an excellent way to make very good use of it. We're going to restore the plane structurally using non-aviation grade materials, cover it right down the centerline so one half is finished/painted and the other is open/skeletal, connect all the controls, add folding wings, and use it as a training tool for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. We'll still be able to gain valuable experience through the build/restoration process and our local Scout organizations will gain a valuable teaching tool. While we may be a little disappointed that this particular plane won't be ours to fly we're still very excited about the project and the opportunity to use it to bring aviation to life for other youngsters and Scouts.
At this point we're just getting the trailer unpacked and preparing our shop space. I'll keep the forum updated on our progress but in the meantime I've posted a link to some pictures of the Crew working with the fuselage to reinstall the landing gear and add new wheels and tires.
Thanks to everyone who's read and contributed to this thread. Your ongoing support of our efforts to engage young people in general aviation is greatly appreciated! If you have any questions about our activities please feel free to send me a message and I'll get right back to you.