A Stitts Skycoupe Restoration Project

The Stitts Skycoupe is also known as Stitts SA7 D

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

William Wynne on the Skycoupe

Late this afternoon, I received a phone call from Corvair conversion expert William Wynne of Orange Park, FL. A number of chapter members have attended his famous "Corvair Colleges" in recent years. I had asked William about the Skycoupe owned by Gary Coppen that appears on his web site. It turns out that Gary loaned Wynne the Skycoupe for the purpose of a Corvair installation, then allowed his plane to serve as a "mule" for further modifications of the Wynne engine conversion. This even included installation of a turbocharger on the Skycoupe!

William only had good things to say about the Skycoupe. Here are some of his comments:

  1. It is a surprisingly good little airplane, incredibly rugged, good for training, tough little bird that flies surprisingly well with no bad habits.
  2. Our first flight with the 100HP Corvair engine was unintended and with the doors removed. The plane's gears resulted in a few degrees of negative instance in the ground roll. I wanted to see how much stick force would be needed to raise the nose off the ground. With its relatively short wing, I did not expect it to actually fly without more back stick, but was surprised to find myself flying a few feet off the ground only after moderate back pressure on the stick at 40-45 mph.
  3. It has full-span ailerons made of aluminum built around wood stiffeners. The plane has no flaps, and they are not really needed. The lack of flaps is one of the reasons it is a good aircraft to train in - one less thing to remember when flying it.
  4. We replaced the original, high-drag landing gear with a spring steel gear in our goal to achieve 100mph cruise at only 5gph fuel consumption behind a 100 hp Corvair engine. We almost achieved this goal.
  5. We replace the original nose gear with one from a Zenith as we felt it needed better damping that the Zenith provides.
  6. If you check the reports from the old EAA Rockford fly-ins from the mid-1960s, you'll find that many Skycoupes were present. It was considered an ideal chapter project plane due to its low cost, simplicity to build, rugged construction and good flying characteristics. It is an ideal chapter project plane that kind of grows on you the more you fly it.
  7. Daphne SD1A Tailwind - Tailwind pilots needing an airplane with better short field performance found this by mating Skycoupe wings onto a Tailwind fuselage. The result was the Tailwind Daphne SD1A. Ray Stits and Steve Witmann were two of the most popular designers of early homebuilts, so how ironic that two of their most popular designs would be combined in this manner. [ Scroll down to see more images of this Daphne at this link. Note the aileron attachments on the Stits SA7 wing, and what appears to be a flap, which is not in the original SA7 design, a flap-less airplane. ]
Left: Daphne SD1A

Below: Daphne aileron and flap details.

I checked today the online list of all issues of EAA Sport Aviation since the 1950s. I will see how many of these I can convert to PDFs. I have started a collection of all such articles.

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