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Posted by benjamin presten | Today @ 08:31 PM | 100 Views
In 1928 Boeing was working on what would be the last generation of high performance military biplanes before the wave of monoplanes took over. Boeing’s entry into the fighter biplane market was the P-12 series. Built for both the Army Air Core and the Navy, there were many versions of the P-12 through its development. With Boeing trying to keep up with the monoplane phase, they modified one particular model of the P-12, the F4B-1 (last picture) to be a monoplane. Enter the Boeing XF5B-1 or XP-15. Finished in early 1930, the first airplane, (the XP-15) was essentially an XF4B-1 with the bottom wing knocked off, a new landing gear and modified ailerons. It was found to be unstable due to the vertical surface of the tail being too small. With an enlarged vertical surface, the XP-15 was presented to the US Army for testing. With a top speed of 190mph, it was no slouch in the speed department, but it was found to have a poor climb rate and a high landing speed so it was never purchased. A second airplane was completed, the XF5B-1, for presentation to the Navy and was ultimately purchased but a contract for more was never reached.

Powered by a 525hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340 and hauling the mail at 190mph, without even mentioning it’s fantastic looks, the XP-15 might have been the ultimate parasol.
Posted by benjamin presten | Yesterday @ 11:48 AM | 2,359 Views
History of the Travel Air:
The History of the Travel Air is intertwined into quite a few of the major names in aviation history. Starting with Laird and Swallow, down the grape vine Travel Air was eventually associated with Curtiss-Wright, Cessna, Beechcraft and Stearman. But of course it couldn't be without an extremely convoluted history that one company could be associated with so many names. It all started in the early 1920s with Laird-Swallow. In the 1920s, barnstorming was in full swing and the market was hungry for more biplanes to rake in the cash with. Swallow was one of the early answers. With a single seat in the rear cockpit and room for two up front, the Swallow was a major step up from the Jennys and Standard J-1s that were surplussed from WWI. However, still having a wooden fuselage, it wasn't as tough or as long living as a barnstormer might want. Two employees of Swallow thought they had the answer to this with a welded steel fuselage. Lloyd Stearman and Walter Beech proposed their welded steel fuselage to the owner of Swallow aircraft to a surprising rejection. This sparked some controversy and ended with Stearman and Beech leaving Swallow to start their own company. Interestingly, this demonstration welded steel fuselage was actually turned into a completed airplane by the Winstead brothers (named the Winstead Special) which is still surviving and flying today. Stearman and Beech decided to start their own company using their welded steel fuselages. They...Continue Reading
Posted by benjamin presten | Jan 19, 2021 @ 09:30 AM | 4,970 Views
In the 1920s biplane "barnstorming" was going full tilt. A surplus of Standard J1s and Curtiss Jennys had flooded onto the civilian market after WWI and brought the concept of barnstorming with it. As the old surplus biplanes that were only intended for pilot and copilot tired out, there was a big demand for a biplane which seated two in the front cockpit. Throughout the 20s many new companies and models sprouted up to fill this void. Among them were the Travel Air, Waco 9 and 10, Alexander Eagle Rock, Swallow, Command Aire, and the Stearman C3. But in 1928 in Glendale, Brooklyn, New York built by Brunner-Winkle Aircraft Corp., there emerged a new type. The Bird Model A as it became known. With a handsome (and uncommon on civilian production airplanes) "tunnel cowling" housing the radiator and a wing design that neared a sesqui-plane design with most of the lifting area being on the top wing, the Bird was an attractive airplane to look at. Particularly for a Curtiss OX-5 V8 powered airplane, many of which had big forward facing radiators ruining their looks. The airplane was debuted at the Cleveland Air Races in 1929 to a warm reception. After a production run of 85 airplanes, near the end of 1929 a new model of Bird was announced. With the supply of surplus OX-5s running thin and air cooled radials taking precedence, a new power plant was in order. The Bird Model BK was unveiled with a Kinner K-5 radial 5 cylinder producing 100hp (10hp more than the OX-5)...Continue Reading
Posted by benjamin presten | Oct 14, 2020 @ 04:38 AM | 2,739 Views
Most of you are probably familiar with the Travel Air 4000, the evolution of the 2000. Powered by quite a few different radials, this particular one is powered with an early 220hp Continental with unshielded ignition and bayonet exhausts. It's also extremely light for a 4000 thanks to its small wheels, no electrical system and a tail skid. With it's minimal weight and great power to weight ratio it's a wonderful flying airplane, at least for a Travel Air. The other day we pulled it out for a quick trip from Brodhead to Albany joined by a friend flying the 1935 Bird Speedbird. Along the way we did a little formation flying, cut some toilet paper and did a few light aerobatics.

Travel Air 4000 Toilet Paper Cutting (8 min 15 sec)

Posted by benjamin presten | Jun 22, 2020 @ 08:36 PM | 6,367 Views
The Monocoupe aircraft company (and it’s many other names) progressed very rapidly from the less than 100mph model 22 and model 70 in 1928 to the 220mph+ clipped wing 110 just four years later in 1932. In those four years Monocoupe saw production of the Model 22, Model 70, Model 113, Monoprep, Monosport, Monocoach, Model 90, and Model 110. With good sales on several models Monocoupe was a household name in the aviation industry at the time. However there was one downfall to the “Monocoupe” that kept a fair size of the market from buying one. They were very small on the inside, often described as “chummy,” seating was cramped for any larger occupants. Chief Engineer of Monocoupe, Frederick Knack, set out to fix this issue in the end of 1931. His prototype of the “D Model” Monocoupe was completed in early 1932 with a 125hp Warner. However it didn’t meet his expectations so it was placed on the back burner for some time. Work was rekindled in 1933, when the depression left them with little else to work on, with the help of Ivan Driggs (designer of the Driggs Dart and Driggs Skylark). A second prototype was built with various changes including the landing gear being tweaked and a 145hp Warner taking the place of the 125hp one. With the head of Monocoupe (Don Luscombe) satisfied, a tour was immediately launched. Don brought the airplane to the east coast and demonstrated it at various events. He returned with a few orders and production began. Shortly after production started,...Continue Reading
Posted by benjamin presten | Jun 22, 2020 @ 01:16 AM | 10,236 Views
With the success of the Lambert powered Model 90 Monocoupe, Mono aircraft decided to bolt a 110hp Warner 7 cylinder radial onto it and made the Model 110 in June of 1930. In 1931 the Model 110s hit the racing circuit in force and dominated pretty much every aspect of it. Leading the pack was famed racer Johnny Livingston. In 1931 Johnny Livingston won the Clevland National Air Races for his engine class size and the three engine classes ABOVE his own. Overall most events at the National Air Races had a Monocoupe in first place. However, Livingston saw that the purpose built racing airplanes would be beginning to dominate the racing circuit in the very near future, so in the beginning of 1932 he brought his stock model 110 back to the Monocoupe factory. The airplane was modified to the point of being almost unrecognizable as a 110. It had much smaller tail feathers, the wings were trimmed from 32ft to 23ft, it had much smaller wheels fitted and it also was fitted with a 145hp Warner. As Livingston suspected the purpose built racers arrived in force in 1932 and he was relegated to 2nd and 3rd in most classes. In 1933 he sold his "110 Special" and used the engine to build the Cessna CR-2 racer. However the new owner recognized that the 110 made a great aerobatic airplane and used it as such.

A few orders were placed with Monocoupe for the "110 Special" and a small sum of 7 were built. However they proved to be a very dangerous airplane. Each of the...Continue Reading
Posted by benjamin presten | Jun 21, 2020 @ 01:11 AM | 12,437 Views
Model 22
In Moline Illinois around 1927 a diminutive aircraft company was started by the venerable Don Luscombe (of later fame for the Luscombe airplane company) under the name Central States Aero Co. Don's determination was to build a small cabin plane for two people, with the idea that they wouldn't have to change into pilot gear for a quick hop around the skies. The Central States "Monocoupe" was the first model produced. A small two seat high wing cabin ship of 60-75hp it was the first certificated small cabin plane in the U.S. Powered by an assortment of engines, the major ones being a 75hp Detroit Air Cat 5 cylinder radial or a 60HP Anzani 6 cylinder radial (two row) the "Monocoupe" was plagued with engine problems. The issue being that at the time the common engines were all larger water cooled V8s, most small radials were of European origin. In 1928 Central States Aero Co. became Mono Aircraft Co. and produced the "Monocoupe" as the Mono Aircraft Monocoupe Model 22. Despite it's engine issues, 22 of them were produced. Even Charles Lindbergh bought one. The pictured airplane, was originally produced in 1928 I believe and was powered by a six cylinder Anzani.

Model 70
With the Model 22 production being severely limited due to the lack of engine availability, Don Luscombe set out to find a reliable solution. The solution that he found was to convince automotive manufacturer Willard Velie (Grandson of John Deere) to design and build an...Continue Reading
Posted by benjamin presten | Jun 19, 2020 @ 08:48 PM | 13,175 Views
By 1930 Monocoupe Aircraft had unveiled the Monosport and the much more successful Model 90 powered by a 90hp Lambert. With over 40 Model 90s having been produced already at the time, Monocoupe embarked on a new model. Two prototypes of the new Monocoupe Model 110 had been produced by the beginning of 1931 and in early 1931 they launched into production. Powered by a 110hp or 125hp Warner Scarab radial, the 110 had a substantial performance advantage over the early Model 90s.

By the end of their production run in 1939 Monocoupe had completed around 30 model 110s. By todays standards, not a huge number but in depression times it was a fairly good production run. At some point in the middle of 1931 the 110s had a few changes made to them in order to make it a faster airplane as they were used in racing a good bit.

This particular 1931 Model 110, nicknamed Oakland Barbie after its stint at the Oakland Air Museum, was purchased by Ted Hendrickson in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Restoration of the early model 110 was completed a few years later and touted across the California Air Show scene until it was eventually purchased by John Desmond who put it on loan in the Oakland Air Museum for quite a while. After John's death Oakland Barbie eventually ended up in the hands of its current owner, a prolific Monocoupe collector who has returned it to the air with a freshly rebuilt 125hp Warner.

It is a joy to see an early Monocoupe such as this in the air, especially to see it...Continue Reading
Posted by benjamin presten | Jun 15, 2020 @ 12:16 AM | 4,012 Views
I'm using my RCG blog here a vessel to put some of the aviation I have been a part of into written form on the immortal interwebs. The material will be scattered and informal but who cares.

Here's a brief blurb on our Family/Business machine, a 1949 Piper PA-16 Clipper.

The History
My father bought this airplane in May of 1990, so at 30 years it's been in the family longer than I have. He bought it in Florida and flew it all the way across the country back home to Sonoma California. After a couple years of flying it the way he got it, the restoration began. With my dad's business being aviation photography, it was paramount to keep the airplane flying as much as possible. So the restoration took place in a somewhat unconventional fashion. Like Johnny Cash said, one piece at a time. Taking a main component off, rebuilding it over a winter and having the airplane flying again by the time spring rolled around. The wings each took a winter and then the fuselage came last the next winter. At some point in the process my brother and I were born so we were running around the hangar while my mom was covering the airplane on the weekends. Eventually once the airplane was restored and flying in raw silver, it got its signature blue and cream "Presten's Aero Photography" paint job.

Once the restoration was completed, it was time for the next major step in the Clipper's story, it had to float. When I was two or three years old, construction began on a set of Murphy...Continue Reading
Posted by benjamin presten | Jun 14, 2020 @ 01:48 AM | 5,806 Views
Here is a little of the History of our Bleriot XI replica. I'm sure some of you guys will be familiar with this airplane as it has been to more airshows than I can count. It has been at AirVenture Oshkosh every year from 2009 to 2019, the Reno air races, Sun-N-Fun, Flabob Flying Circus, Catalina Island Air Show, The American Barnstomers Tour, The Quad Cities air show and many more.

We built this airplane in 2009 at the Aerodrome Airplanes shop in Bates City Missouri. There was six people on the crew building the airplane. The owner of Aerodrome airplanes, our good friend Rob Baslee, one of his employees who did the necessary welding, my father, mother, brother and myself. The goal of building this airplane was to bring it to Airventure at the end of July 2009, so naturally we started building it in mid-June of 2009. 29 days later it was finished and test flown. We did of course take three days off so it was actually built in a total of 26 days.

Beyond the original construction being short, the Bleriot is designed to be taken apart and put back together repeatedly and quickly. At our peak when we were doing it every three to four days for the American barnstormer's tour we could completely dis-assemble the airplane from flying condition and load it on the trailer to highway condition in an hour and we could repeat the process backwards in the same time frame.

The Bleriot replica is powered by a Rotec Radial engine that has been modified to look old to match the...Continue Reading
Posted by benjamin presten | Jun 14, 2020 @ 12:05 AM | 5,840 Views
I had the wonderful opportunity a couple of months ago to take a pice of wonderful aviation history for a flight.

Anyone who was going to California fly-ins in the late 80s into the 90s will probably recognize this airplane. The 1932 Waco IBA two sea size-by-side biplane. The IBA gets a very unique look from its side-by-side seating as it allows for the use if the very neat closed canopy you see, which can quickly be removed int the summer time for open cockpit fun. Adding to the unique lines of this airplane is the long nose, cowling and spinner setup. In the 1950s the IBA suffered a crash and was rebuilt using the nose of a Ryan PT-22. The airplane did originally have a Dinner like it does now, however it had a very different looking nose and used a speed ring style cowl instead. When Barry Brannon decided to restore the airplane some years ago he chose to keep the PT-22 style nose since it was added so long ago.

This IBA is the only A series Waco still flying. The A series of airplanes built by Waco included several different models, mostly differentiated by engines. There is a 1932 Waco UBA with a 220hp Continental engine on display at the WAAAM museum in Hood river Oregon, however it has not flown in quite some years. There is a similarly preserved PBA at the air museum in Creve Coeur Missouri. There is also two project form A series Waco's remaining, I believe both are IBAs and one of them is slowly being restored by the same man who restored this one, Barry...Continue Reading
Posted by benjamin presten | Dec 24, 2015 @ 02:14 AM | 6,287 Views
As many people know, there is a limited amount of curve you can get out of a piece of foam with paper on it. You can peel the paper off of one side of the foam which allows you to curve it more but you can still only curve it in one direction, so you can't taper the fuselage. There are some ways around this like cutting slots or heating the foam but both of them take lots of effort. This reduces the amount of subject airplanes significantly because it is so hard to make round fuselages. Well there is many airplanes with round fuselages that I have long wanted to model. So the way that I and many other people have found around this is to make a profile fuselage, but this makes a very thin fuselage that can be less than good looking. So if you make the profile fuselage into a box you still get the thickness of a round fuselage but not the complexity of it. So I decided to try it out on an airplane that I thought would be really easy, a Lavochkin La-7. It did turn out to be easy to build but it was also a learning experience. I started with a three view then picked the size I wanted which I thought would be about 38 inches. It turned out to be a little smaller than I wanted but I had to build it to find that out. Anyway, I built the whole airplane off of the 3-view. It flies pretty great and it was easy enough to build while still following the lines of the airplane well enough. So because the airplane was too small and everything else worked good, I decided to try it again on...Continue Reading
Posted by benjamin presten | Sep 30, 2015 @ 11:00 PM | 6,627 Views
Sorry all of this writing is copied and pasted together from things I have posted together.

I will update this page every time I made an advancement in the project

Update 12/31/15

In the past couple of days I have worked on the tenth prototype. As usual I changed a couple things in the new build. The top to sides of the hexagonal fuselage have been eliminated and replaced with one flat side. I widened the booms to be 32" apart for extended flap and elevator area. I also added a fixed shocked gear that I built. Lastly, I added a cuff to the end of each flap that seals the end of the flap off against the booms. The seem to significantly increase the effectiveness of the flaps. All in all the airplane flies awesome and I look forward to continuing my testing with it.

Update 10/13/15

I put a sixty inch diameter parachute purchased from Aerocon Systems on the airplane. It is mounted on the fuselage, slightly forward of the wing. It is attached to the airplane with a set of bungees that are wrapped around the spar of the wing. It is released via a servo and a rubber band. On the first few tests the parachute failed to open. I had wrapped the parachute to tightly for it to open properly. So I began to wrap it loosely. On about the fourth test the parachute opened successfully but it took a little to long to open and because of that it had the opportunity to slide across the top of the wing and fall between the booms and under the elevator. when it did open the
...Continue Reading
Posted by benjamin presten | Sep 21, 2015 @ 06:24 PM | 7,305 Views
Here is the Super STOL airplane that I designed and built out of DTFB. It is made out of DTFB and has a sixty inch wingspan. It is a lot of fun to fly.

Flying it like I STOL it. (1 min 48 sec)

STOL Bloopers (1 min 38 sec)
...Continue Reading
Posted by benjamin presten | Sep 09, 2015 @ 10:40 PM | 6,710 Views
yup mostly using this as a method to get the picture on the internet so I don't lose the picture.
Posted by benjamin presten | May 23, 2015 @ 10:56 PM | 7,025 Views
I was given this Pitts by a friend who built it 25 years ago. It was powered with a 15 size glow engine. It was only flown once because of how under powered it was. It was built off of Marutaka plans (and it took me a lot of research to figure that out) and possibly a kit, I don't really know but there isn't any stamping on the parts that suggests it was a kit.
When I got it it was very heavy and with a wingspan of only 31 inches so it had extremely high wing loading. I made an effort to make the airplane as light and powerful as possible but on a budget. I stripped the airplane of all of it's electronics and replaced them all. The servos are parkzone metal gears with the exception of the aileron servo which is an old standard size servo I had laying around. The reason that I used a full sized servo for the ailerons is because the hole was cut out that big and I didn't want to do a bunch of wood work to make it smaller. I powered it with a Detrum 3720 650Kv brushless outrunner with a 13X6 prop. The ESC was a Detrum 50A and the battery was a 1300mAh 3S.
The airplane flew fairly well with this setup but it was still a little less power than I wanted. However the wing loading had gotten low enough that it didn't have to make a smoking hot landing. So I replaced the motor with a Turnigy 3542/4 1450Kv outrunner using the same 13X6 prop 1300mAh 3s and a Castle 60A ESC. Just recently I bought some 1000mAh 4S batteries that are roughly the same size and weight as the...Continue Reading
Posted by benjamin presten | Jan 09, 2015 @ 12:17 AM | 8,213 Views
I built this Gee Bee Model D last night. I have just a little more work to do to the bottom of the nose but otherwise it is done. It has a wingspan of just over thirty inches and it is about 30 inches long. It has a Turnigy XP 3530/14 motor, 10X6 prop, with a Turnigy 30A ESC and a 1000mah 4S battery. I was going to test fly it tonight but it is going to have to wait for a couple of months because it turns out that my transmitter is broken and as I am in high school and I don't have a job I can't afford a new transmitter.
Posted by benjamin presten | Dec 25, 2014 @ 12:26 AM | 8,207 Views
release the kraken