Update August 31, 2014
The chapter pietenpol arrived back at French Valley Airport on Saturday, August 23rd. All damage was evaluated and plan was put in place for repairs. A new Vertical Stabilizer will need to be fabricated, covered, painted and remounted. Both wings have miner damage to fabric/finish only and will be repaired. A new prop is on order from Culver Props. It was decided to replace the Stromberg carburetor with a overhauled MA-3SPA carb which has been purchased and is now being fitted. A mixture control will need to be added to the control panel. The electric fuel pump has been removed and modifications were made to the fuel lines. A new front seat is being fabricated and will be installed soon. It is expected that all repairs/modifications will be finished before the end of October.
Update August 20, 2014
The Pietenpol was disassembled for shipment back to California on Tuesday August 19th and has been loaded for transport. Peter Griffiths was on site and has reported that they left Guymon, OK early on the morning of August 20th for the long drive back to French Valley. Peter stated that they expect to have the Pietenpol back in its home hangar by Saturday morning (August 23rd).
Update - July 28, 2014
Steve and Peter left French Valley for the scheduled flight out to Oshkosh on Sunday, July 20th and had a good first few days. However, on Tuesday afternoon Peter experienced engine problems enroute from New Mexico to Guymon, OK. While attempting the landing at Guymon, with a very rough running engine, and a sudden power surge just before touchdown the Pietenpol ended up on its top. Peter maintained good control in keeping the Pietenpol straight down the runway centerline, but was unable to keep it from nosing over and flipping forward. Only minor (mostly cosmetic) damage was caused, but the rudder top and the prop were damaged beyond field repair. So, the flight to Oshkosh was cancelled, the Pietenpol was stored in a hangar at Guymond, and Steve and Peter continued on to Oshkosh by car. They plan to rent a truck and bring the Pietenpol back to French Valley for repairs on their way home from Oshkosh.
We are all sorry the Pietnepol did not get to Oshkosh this year as planned, but are delighted that no injuries were experienced. EAA Chapter 1279 members can look forward to a good presentation, along with a lot of good video, about the Pietenpol mishap as well a some personal reporting of the Oshkosh experience at the next Chapter meeting on August 30th.
Update - January 5, 2013
Update - November 5, 2012
Dear Friends and Members,
After seven and one-half years of effort by members of EAA Chapter 1279, our Pietenpol Air Camper is finally finished. Our Airworthiness inspection was performed by DAR John Shablow on Saturday, October 27, 2012. As part of his final inspection, John conducted a final Weight & Balance for the record. Empty weight came out at 765 lbs. with no pilot and no fuel. With 7 gallons of fuel in the fuselage tank (located just behind the firewall) and a 170 pound pilot (solo), the CG falls at 19.4 inches aft of the leading edge of the wing. This is near the aft CG limit, but well forward of the center of lift in level flight. Since the CG fell within the limits, John went ahead with the final inspection and paper work necessary to issue the Airworthiness Certificate for the airplane. (See photos below)
Ownership of the airplane will be shared by Chapter 1279 president Steve Williamson and Chapter treasurer Peter Griffiths. Thus, the airplane will remain at French Valley and continue to reflect its association with the French Valley chapter.
First flight is scheduled for Saturday, November 10, 2012 with long-time Pietenpol owner and pilot Scott Liefield doing the honors. It was agreed by all that Scott's experience and expertise in Pietenpols would be invaluable in terms of evaluating and sharing his impressions of the handling characteristics of our airplane.
I would like to extend congratulations to all of the members who participated in the construction of this airplane over the past seven years. And there have been many. I also want to extend congratulations, and express my appreciation to chapter vice-president and Technical Counselor Art Froehlich, who was responsible for having introduced the concept of a Saturday morning Builders' Workshop which ultimately produced the Pietenpol Air Camper pictured below.
As I look back on this experience, I offer this final thought. I genuinely and sincerely hope that this chapter's achievement will inspire other EAA chapter's all over the country to follow suit - for the benefit of their own members, for EAA as an organization, and for the aviation community at large. Through our chapter's Saturday morning Builders' Workshop, dozens of EAA Chapter 1279 members went from "dreamers" to do'ers. They gained the confidence, the skills, and the know-how to begin and/or proceed with their own building projects, and, as a by-product, added to the fleet the latest example of Bernard Pietenpol's venerable Pietenpol Air Camper. Workshop participants can be proud of the fact they saw the project through to completion. They made it to the "finish line." The exciting thing is that the same line represents the "starting line" for a whole new adventure. Blue skies and happy landings!!!
See the complete history of the construction of this project by visiting our chapter's website at:www.eaa1279.org and clicking on the "Pietenpol" tab at the top of the page.
Update - October 29, 2012
Today, October 29, 2012 at 4:21 PM the Chapter Pietenpol project was officially signed off and legal to fly. The flight test area is designated to be near Lake Riverside Estates. Over the next several months initial taxi and test flights will be made and more reports will be written and posted to this web page.
The Pietenpol project is expected to be completed on Saturday October 20, 2012, so come on out and enjoy helping with the final preparations. If all goes well Saturday the Weight & Balance will be done on Monday October 22nd with the final FAA DAR inspection soon after. Pietenpol ownership has been settled and final information should be available soon - probably by the October chapter meeting scheduled for October 28th.
For all of you who have been following our progress on the Pietenpol Air Camper that has been under construction by our Saturday morning workshop crew for the past 7 years, you will be very happy to learn that we consider ourselves to be in the "home stretch," nearing the finish line.
Nearly all of 2011 was spent covering and rib lacing the wing, tail surfaces, and fuselage. As you may remember from my last update, the final two weeks of last year were spent painting the whole project. So we began this year by reassembling the airplane for the final time. Our local DAR, John Shablow, advised us that we should get the paperwork started with FAA, as it could take up to 90 days to get it registered. For the first step, we wanted to secure an N number for the airplane that would reflect the connection to our EAA chapter. Unfortunately, N1279 was already taken. In order to incorporate the "1279" chapter number, we would have to add a suffix. So we chose "Z," just 'cause "79 Zulu" kind of rolls off the tongue when spoken over the radio.
This morning (Saturday, May 26, 2012) we preformed a preliminary "weight and balance" of the airplane (see photos below). Empty weight of the airplane (with minimal work left to do on the engine and airframe) was measured at 727 lbs. (no fuel and no pilot). It takes considerable focus on weight reduction to get the empty weight of a Pietenpol under 650 lbs. And there are Piets with no electrical and no brakes that top 700 lbs empty weight. With a full electrical system including starter motor, radio, and intercom, hydrolic brakes, and a stearable tailwheel, we were expecting to be around 800 lbs. So we were delighted with an empty weight under 730 lbs.
With a 170 lb. pilot our calculations put the CG at 18.5 inches aft of the leading edge of the wing. This falls within the CG design limits of 15" to 20" aft of the leading edge. Nonetheless, simply moving the wing aft 1" would put the CG right in the middle of the CG range. It is something worth considering. I should stress, however, that these were only preliminary calculations using simple bathroom scales. There are a few things left to do on the airplane. So we will give it careful consideration before making any modifications to our current configuration. Of course, the final weight and balance will be performed using aircraft scales when the airplane is "flight ready."
As you can see in the photos below we have added our chapter logo to the side of the fuselage as well as the N number on the tail. We are not too far from taxi testing and first flight, so stay tuned.
Empty weight of N1279Z is 765 lbs.
DAR John Shablow performs CG calculations
Pietnepol Air Camper N1279Z
Dave McPhee and Dave Winsett measure the pilot location
Dave McPhee performs CG calculations with Art supervising
"NX1279Z" ready for taxi
"Air Camper" valve covers were a gift from William Wynne
As of today, April 19, 2012, the radio installation is complete. The radio is a XCOM 760 that has built in Intercom, PC programming interface, 100 Memory channels, NOAH weather channels, and VOR receive channels (no VOR Navigation). Pilot and Co-Pilot headset jack have been installed and tested. The wiring is about 95% complete as is everything firewall forward. Cowling and top cover plates have been primed and are ready to paint. An attempt to bleed the brakes was made yesterday, but failed due to an inability to remove all air from the system New bleeder valves have been made that should solve the problem. Another attempt to bleed the brake system will be made this coming Saturday. The wheels have been aligned and new bungee cord installed on each axle. A preliminary Weight and Balance has been completed using the numbers from the weighing done at Oshkosh 2010. Estimated weight additions since then were used to calculate the current estimate. The weight and Balance figures look very good at this time and came in at or very near other flying Pietenpol's. A final weight and balance will be done upon the completion of the aircraft. A new Hobbs meter was donated and will be installed soon. Completion of the engine installation was held up by the requirement of re-locating the carburetor about 1 1/2" forward to allow more firewall clearance. That work is now in progress whit expected completion by end of April.
Update - February 2012
Things are happening quickly these days with our Pietenpol project. On New Years Eve we transported the project from the painting facility near the Perris Valley Airport back to our hangar at French Valley. We want to thank Chris Frisella, owner of Bone Head Composites, for generously offering us the use of his commercial paint booth for the two weeks it took to complete the painting process. The Poly Fiber process required that we apply two coats of fabric sealer on everything; followed by three "cross coats" of silver UV protector on everything; and, finally, three coats of final color. Each coat required drying time. And, in the case of the silver coats, sanding between coats. Wow, what a chore! But it yielded great results.
The following Saturday we began the process of "final assembly." We started by attaching the undercarriage and setting the fuselage on the gear. Then we attached the tail feathers and bracing wires.
The next Saturday we attached the cabane struts and wing center section, then the wings and lift struts. We all stood back and enjoyed the fact that the project was finally beginning to look like a finished airplane.
On the last Sunday of the month we were able to roll the airplane out to the terminal building to show it off at our monthly membership meeting.
The first weekend of February had us mounting the engine and rigging the tail. (See photos below)
It is time to begin the paperwork in preparation for registration. Since the airplane has been a group project through our chapter's Builders' Workshop Program, we wanted to chose an N number that included our EAA chapter number "1279." Unfortunately, the simple number "N1279" was taken. So, it was necessary to add a suffix. A two-letter suffix like "FV" for French Valley resulted in too many characters. We had to settle on a single-letter suffix. There were several available. We simply had to chose one that we thought would look appropriate when affixed to the airplane. We chose the letter "Z" for no particular reason and sent in a request to FAA to reserve the number. The next step was to order the Aircraft Registration Kit available through EAA Headquarters. We are told by our DAR, John Shablow, that processing the paperwork through FAA takes about three months. In the meantime, there is plenty of work that remains. You know what builders say, "When you think your 90 percent finished, you've got about 90 percent to go!" Maybe so, but at the current pace we can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel. After nearly seven years of construction, it appears that the airplane is indeed going to be finished and flying soon.
As always, we welcome visitors. So come on out any Saturday morning and see our progress. Or lend a hand, if you are so inclined. I promise you, you will learn something. And this is, after all, a learning process for all of us.
With the fuselage on the gear, Dave McPhee and Dave Winsett attach the tail feathers.
Gear and tail feathers attached.
Update - January 2012
As we begin a new year, it is a good time to reflect on the phenomenal year we had in 2010. The highlight of the year, of course, was the opportunity to take our project to the annual Pietenpol fly-in at Brodhead, Wisconsin and then to the annual EAA convention at Oshkosh.
Cowl being fitted - June 25, 2011
Pietenpol assembled for showing at annual barbeque- June 25, 2011
Pietenpol assembled - June 25, 2011
Presentation at Brodhead
William Wynne performing wt & bal
Wynne giving wt & bal lesson
Reception at Oshkosh
Dave McPhee fitting cowling
Cowl almost finished
I plan to add more Pietenpol build information and photos in the future. The missing information includes what was documented on the build prior to the above reports.