Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Pither Monoplane Replica at Mandeville

Continuing with my Burt Munro thoughts (as I was in the deep South), it seemed to me that Herbert Pither was a sort of pre-Burt Munro type of pioneer.  Pither also worked alone in his Invercargill garage to produce his monoplane which was advanced for its time.  He built the airframe from steel tubes that were brazed (when most aircraft were being made from wood) and he also built his own V4 engine.  Then he took the aeroplane to Oreti Beach to fly it (the same beach that Burt Munro tested his Indian motorcycle).  Pither claimed that he flew about a mile in a straight line at heights of around 25 to 30 feet, on 5 July 1910.  If this is true then Pither would have been the first person to fly an aeroplane in New Zealand (discounting Richard Pearse who never claimed that he made a controlled flight).  The only problem with Pither's claim is that there were no witnesses to his flight, so it cannot be verified.

The aeroplane never flew again althought it was displayed at cities in the South Island including Dunedin, where the above photo was taken on 7 September 1910 and published in the Otago Witness newspaper.  In this photo the wings have been temporarily fitted and do not have the dihedral that the flyable aircraft had.

Now fast forward to the early 2000's and Colin Smith of the Croydon Aircraft Company Ltd.  Colin Smith was able to make working drawings of the aircraft from the Otago Witness photos and construct an approximate replica of Pither's aeroplane powered by a lookalike V4 engine that was built by Bill Sutherland.  This replica aircraft made several successful straight line flights at Mandeville airfield on 18 February 2004, and in the process proved that Pither's aeroplane was probably capable of flight.  However, the pilot in 2004 was the very experienced Jerry Chisum whereas Pither himself had never flown an aeroplane or even seen one fly.

I was recently able to photograph the replica Pither Monoplane at the Croydon Aircraft Heritage Centre at Mandeville, on 13 November 2014.

Topically, the replica is scheduled to attend the 2015 Wings Over Wairarapa airshow at Masterton in January.


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Charlie Kenny's Jodel D 150X ZK-CCD Completed

When visiting Balclutha, I had arranged with Charlie Kenny to visit his place at Clydevale to inspect his completed Jodel D 150X ZK-CCD.  Charlie fired up the Peugeot Diesel and it sounded really smooth and effortless.

I think Charlie has a bit of Burt Munro about him as he has built the D 150X entirely by himself in his shed, as well as sorting the engine and its systems, and I reckon he has achieved a great result.

The original D 150 Mascaret was designed by Jean Delemontez as a Jodel D 11 replacement, and it first flew in France in 1962.  But ZK-CCD is not a standard D 150. Charlie told me that it is a one-off design incorporating the good bits from many Jodel models. It has the luggage locker from a D 140, the tailplane from a D 18, the rudder from the D 150 and the wing airfoil from a D 18, but with a bigger wing, and it has split flaps that drop down from the trailing edge. Charlie has also made the cockpit wider at 44 inches, and he has moved the seat back 3 inches and sloped the seat-back to 30 degrees, giving a very roomy cockpit with a FU 24 windscreen and great headroom. It sure is big!

It is only awaiting the final paperwork before taking to the air from Charlie's airstrip.

Aerodynamic But Not Aeronautical

I have recently been travelling around the bottom of the South Island - the Catlins, Invercargill, Stewart Island and back to Dunedin in weather that was at times decidly adventourous!. I saw some interesting aviation stuff but I thought I would start off with Burt Munro's record breaking 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle that was on display in an arcade in Invercargill.

Actually, Burt Munro is huge in these parts and there was a pennant of him on most of the street poles in Invercargill, advertising the Burt Munro speedweek which is happening all this week.


Cromwell tie downs.

 Rans S 6S ZK-ZMB (c/n 10081908-S) was built by Albert L Bagnall, with help by Craig Miller at Taieri.  It is named "Mary B".  It was registered on 15/10/09 and first flew on 18/11/09. On 25/11/12 at was sold the the ZMB Syndicate of Dunedin.
The Cessna R172K Hawk XP II ZK-YAT (c/n R1722693) is currently listed to Phil Pullar from down Gore Way. It was originally registered YAT to the Yates family of Christchurch on 13-01-1994 and then to D R and L J Wiseman of Feilding from 11-06-1997. It moved to its current owner on 20-01-2014.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Some Central Otago helicopters

I have had the good fortune to photograph these helicopters yesterday.
 Above is our only MDHC 600N NOTAR. ZK-IHI (c/n RN047) in its hangar at Cromwell. This is a 1999 model which has spent time in the States, the UK and India before arriving in NZ to be registered here on 20-11-2012 to Heliview Taranaki Ltd.
Smaller cousin MD 500N NOTAR ZK-HVA5 (c/n LN089) was a good catch outside at Queenstown. It is of about the same vintage as ZK-IHI and first served in NZ as ZK-III with Jo Faram in late 2008 for about five months before going to Australia. This very low timed airframe came back to NZ to become ZK-HVA5 on 27-03-2014 with Van Asch Wines Ltd at Queenstown. It went on line with Over The Top Ltd on 06-05-2014.
 An interesting change was the Eurocopter AS 350 B3 Ecureuil ZK-IKJ (c/n 4536). After three months on the UK register it was registered in NZ on 12-01-2009 to Treetops Aviation Ltd before transferring to Volcanic Air Safaris Ltd at Rotorua. It went back to Treetops in March of 2012 until being registered to Over The Top Ltd at Queenstown on 14-07-2014.
Here we see it on the pad outside the Heliworks hangar. It carries the small script "operated by Southern Lakes Helicopters" below the door; and that looks like the Over The Top logo on the bottom corner of the door.
 Above : Returning from an outing is the Over The Top Eurocopter EC 130 B4 ZK-IUP (c/n 4118).
 This MDHI 369E ZK-HTN3 (c/n 0551E) was listed to D J and N A Shanks Ltd of Te Anau on 05-03-2014. It bears their Milford Helicopters operating titles.