Saturday 26 May 2012

Oldfield Baby Great Lakes' of New Zealand (and Answer to Question Time #150)

The next type of New Zealand homebuilt aircraft to come along, in 1985, was the Baby Great Lakes, of which I was sure we would have had only one, until ZK-ULM came along last month. The Baby Great Lakes has no connection to the earlier Great Lakes biplanes which were manufactured in the 1930's by the Great Lakes Aircraft Company of Cleveland, Ohio.

 The Oldfield Baby Great Lakes was designed by Barney Oldfield for mass production, but it was eventually sold as homebuilt aircraft plans. It is tiny with a length of only 13 feet 6 inches (4.11 metres) and a wingspan of 16 feet 8 inches (5.08 metres). As you can see from the photos it was very low to the ground with a height of only 4 feet 6 inches! Its empty weight was 480 pounds (218 Kg) and MAUW was 850 pounds (386 Kg).  On a C-85 engine of 85 HP its maximum speed was 135 MPH.

The photo of ZK-FLV is from the Keith Morris collection.

ZK-FLV (c/n AACA/651) was built by Terry Smith of Haumoana in Hawkes Bay, and was first registered on 25/11/85 with its first flight on 23/5/86.  It is surprising how many different types of homebuilt biplanes aircraft first appeared in Hawkes Bay - Pitts S1, Stolp V Star, EAA Acrosport 1 and the Baby Great Lakes.  The above photo of ZK-FLV was taken at Feilding in 1987.  You can see how tiny it is by the size of Terry Smith in the cockpit.  It was withdrawn from use and cancelled on 19/7/10.

27 years after ZK-FLV, our second Baby Great Lakes appeared in the form of ZK-ULM (c/n BLUL-01) built by Peter Parkinson of Rangiora.  This aircraft test flew at Rangiora on 21 April 2012, and has been posted before on this blog at  .  Thanks to Blue Bus for this photo.

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