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Classic Wings Magazine Luftwaffe Resource Center WWII Naval Aviation Research Pacific
Final Cut-The Post War B-17 Flying Fortress and Survivors - 5th Edition


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:00 pm 
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The late John Desmond's Lockheed Vega, which recently flew after restoration to airworthiness, has been restored in Shell Oil colors as one of the Shell Vegas that Jimmy Doolittle flew. Is it in fact one of those airplanes, or has it simply been painted in his Shell colors? I read somewhere that there was some controversy as to whether or not the dataplate "was legitimate," whatever that means.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:54 pm 
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http://www.antiqueairfield.com/articles ... ga-project

http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry ... txt=N13705

Stephan,

The best way for people to view this question is quite simply a legal one. Your question as I understand it was that James Doolittle flew, among other aircraft, Lockheed Vega c/n 203 that was registered as NC13705. This aircraft has been restored and is currently registered with the FAA as N13705. The Lockheed c/n accepted by the FAA is 203. Remember the Vega is a wooden aircraft, and so many components would have to be periodically renewed. The last original and unprepared wooden Lockheed fuselage and wings flown may have been over 40 years ago. It’s important to remember how difficult it is to chase down an aircraft almost lost to time, meet with people, and begin a restoration. This aircraft is emblematic of the restorers art, and represents tremendous effort on the part of many people to save aviation history.



Joe


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:54 pm 
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The Vega in question is currently at the Nut Tree Airport, but has not flown

The Vega was restored using 10-15% (according to owners) original components and materials wherever possible, (mostly metal fittings and hardware) upon the remains of the existing airframe. The remainder was returned to accurate early condition made with the same materials as the original. The restoration was started in 2011 and took about 5 years to complete. The aircraft was restored to air-worthy flying condition, although currently there is no pilot to fly the aircraft. Last I checked, the aircraft was undergoing inspection for possible sale.

There is a major issue with the glue (not FAA approved) that was used in the restoration.
There is no original Data plate, a replica data plate is in the aircraft.

I consider the aircraft “Restored/rebuilt” - a flying aircraft composed of some original material but mostly constructed from new parts built to original specifications – it utilizes identities gained from source material so as to have a "provenance" but is largely "new build". Almost all of the wood fuselage and wing is new construction using original type materials and methods.

The real question is, Is it "SAFE" to fly?
It is a tail dragger with poor forward visibility.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:04 pm 
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Of note is Doolittle's log book. He only listed Vega and not the number in his flight logs. At the time Shell owned several. Shell No. 7, NC-13705, c/n 203, was the last of four Vegas acquired by Shell. Also, he was assigned a different Vega as his personal one, which he wrecked.
Vega 5A Executive, c/n 108, mfd 1/30, NC 539M (purchased for Jimmy Doolittle), repaired after crack-up at Mitchel Field after he almost killed his family in it.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:07 pm 
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The aircraft made its first test flight last weekend (and may have been flying some more since).

Here are some photos and video from the test flight a week ago - photos and video by Bernie Vasquez, re-posted to the Antique Airfield FB page:
https://scontent.ffcm1-2.fna.fbcdn.net/ ... e=5BDF65D9
https://scontent.ffcm1-2.fna.fbcdn.net/ ... e=5BC81C36
https://scontent.ffcm1-2.fna.fbcdn.net/ ... e=5BD12E4D

Video of the takeoff: https://www.facebook.com/bernie.vasquez ... 990262089/

The Antique Airfield Facebook page credits this development to vintage aircraft owner/operator Walt Bowe, who I assume is now the owner.

(Also makes me really want a new update on Kermit Weeks' Vega, if work has continued to progress on the fuselage at Kevin Kimball's shop.)


Last edited by JohnTerrell on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:16 pm 
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So, what glue was used on it? Curiosity and the cat, you know...


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:04 pm 
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The glue is not an issue.
How silly to ask if it's safe to fly because it's a taildragger with poor forward visibility, that describes most vintage aircraft. And the obviously false statement that there are no pilots to fly it, what?? I could name a dozen pilots who would have no problem with it. Walt clearly has no problem, and has flown it at least twice already. C'mon.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:47 am 
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John: Last time I messaged Kevin, there wasn’t anything going on with the project. It hadn’t been a high priority project with Kermit.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:16 am 
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The metal-bodied Vega flies regularly.
As do other large types with similar blind ground visibility: big Stearmans, WACOS, Howards, Staggerwings, T-6s, ....
While the population of pilots with the skill to fly BIG tailgaters isn't what it used to be, they're hardly extinct.

A former Staggerwing owner recently told me that prices for them has been soft, due in part to their ground handling reputation. Many guys like them, but are afraid of them. He sold his award winning example to a guy who apparently wasn't up to the challenge of really mastering the type (when he bought it, he promised my friend he'd get some dual instruction in one of the few dual control Staggerwings), so he didn't fly it much and eventually sold it to a more highly skilled pilot.

A question about the Vega. I've heard the glue story.
I always wondered if someone would really go to the trouble and huge expense to build a new wood structure but not use a FAA approved glue.
Must be more to the story than the simple version heard as hangar/forum talk.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 8:15 am 
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JohnB wrote:

A question about the Vega. I've heard the glue story.
I always wondered if someone would really go to the trouble and huge expense to build a new wood structure but not use a FAA approved glue.


As a guess because the FAA is 75 years behind glue technologies, and all of the 'non-approved' glues are vastly better than the "approved glues"

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:57 am 
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shrike wrote:
JohnB wrote:

A question about the Vega. I've heard the glue story.
I always wondered if someone would really go to the trouble and huge expense to build a new wood structure but not use a FAA approved glue.


As a guess because the FAA is 75 years behind glue technologies, and all of the 'non-approved' glues are vastly better than the "approved glues"


+1

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:23 pm 
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Okay, say you use a good but non-approved glue.
Will the FAA still let you fly it?
Or only as an experimental (not that anyone is likely to use a Vega in commercial service even though it was approved for it)?

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:34 pm 
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JohnB wrote:
Okay, say you use a good but non-approved glue.
Will the FAA still let you fly it?
Or only as an experimental (not that anyone is likely to use a Vega in commercial service even though it was approved for it)?


It all comes down to the inspector you use. Some won't approve anything beyond factory original. Others will approve changes based on data you provide and or their knowledge of the process/products you used.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:02 am 
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I'm thinking if the glues meet the same MIL-Spec the FAA would be ok with that???


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:45 am 
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Since it was built as a Standard Category aircraft, it would be a mistake not to restore it as such. I know in WW II in the U.S. there were two glues used in aircraft construction. One was called Resourcinol (?) . One was a darker brown than the other. One will last for a 100 years and the other is now non airworthy. Anyway, it would be a mistake to use original glues. If you can re-cover an aircraft with Stits fabric instead of Irish linen or cotton then why not be able to use new glues? So the question is why didn't they use an FAA approved glue? What were they thinking? Were they not intending to fly it?
No reason to quibble over the percentage of wood. If it was a Mosquito we wouldn't be having this discussion. IF they have changed their mind and want to fly it, my guess is they will have to get an STC for the use of the non approved glue. No small task. If they register it in the experimental category, that's fine but it will severely restrict what they can do with the plane and it's resale value.
Last, seems like all the Lockheed taildraggers were difficult to land. It's important to talk to those that have flown one and know the proper technique. Second, review the old videos and study their techniques for takeoff and landing. Is there a reason why these airplanes are so hard to land? Do the brakes and tailwheel need to be replaced with a modern upgrade?
Someone aircraft strongly dislike being three pointed or wheel landed. Piper Cubs don't like being wheel landed. WACO YMF-5D's despise being three pointed. Last maybe they are using the wrong approach speed. The Starduster II biplane can be landed at 70 or even slower but is a handful. Try landing it ten knots faster at 80 mph it it becomes a kitten. They may be landing these Vegas at the wrong speed.


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