Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Homegrown Single Seat Homebuilt Aircraft of New Zealand - Mudrovcich Pearse 1903 Replica ZK-RPT

When Ivan Mudrovcich registered his 1903 Pearse Replica in March this year I was intrigued.  I found out via his website www.willitflymovie.com  that this was a very impressive interpretation of Richard Pearse's 1903 design that some say flew at Waitohi on 31 March 1903.

Certainly it is not in dispute that Pearse did become airborne at Waitohi, and probably before the Wright Brothers first flight.  Pearse was undoubtedly well ahead of his time and his concepts have much in common with modern aircraft design - such as aileron controls and a tricycle undercarriage.  In fact the aircraft looks rather like an early modern microlight.  It is also remarkable that Pearse accomplished all that he did, including designing and building everything including engine, propeller and airframe, pretty much in isolation in remote rural New Zealand.

Ivan has spent the last 7 years researching and interpreting Pearse's papers and patents, and then constructing his replica including building his version of Pearse's 2 cylinder engine which apparently produced 15 HP.  The Mudrovcich Pearse replica is much larger than other replicas such as the one built by Jack Melhopt and his team in Timaru for the 100 year anniversary of Pearse's expoits, in March 2003.  Its wingspan is around 42 feet and the wing area is around 700 square feet!

ZK-RPT (c/n 002 - a nice touch as I guess that 001 was Richard Pearse's original), was first registered to Ivan Mudrovcich on 16/3/12.  I also understand that RPT stands for Richard Pearse Two.  It was assembled in a hangar at Whenuapai where Colin Hay took these recent photos.  Pretty impressive!

The registration ZK-RPT can be seen in this photo, which shows close-up details of the aircraft.

According to the Facebook page on the website, the plan was to tow the aircraft on a flatbed trailer behind a vehicle to check out the flying characteristics.  This was attempted on 12 September 2012, but unfortunately the aircraft came to grief, apparently due to a structural failure of a wing rib which led to a wing collapse.  The Facebook page says that this "test to destruction" setback will be overcome, and this is not the end by any means.  I wish them well!

Thanks to Colin Hay for the photos.

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