A Stitts Skycoupe Restoration Project

The Stitts Skycoupe is also known as Stitts SA7 D

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

AirVenture 2011

Howdy Y'all!

Tim and I returned from Oshkosh this past Sunday after a fun-filled week interspersed with the annual thunderstorm or two. We camped at the private Kalbus Country Harbor on Lake Winnebago, just south of the seaplane base. While it was great falling asleep to the sounds of water lapping against the shore literally 10 feet from our tent, the nightly 2AM arrival of our loud neighbors and whining kids made for some rough nights. Otherwise it was convenient, with a great Kwik Trip gas station halfway between the campground and the entrance to AirVenture where we took our morning breakfast and the old man oiled his joints with coffee before starting on the daily 8-hour trek around the grounds.

What we enjoyed most this year:
  • The REO Speedwagon concert Monday PM.
  • The Bugatti airplane replica inside the Membership Center near the entrance.
  • Meeting Jimmy Doolittle III at the Ford reception for Chapter presidents on Wednesday PM. A former Edwards AFB test pilot, General Doolittle's grandson was very funny and a wealth of information on his famous grandfather and the history of Muroc.
  • Learning to rib stitch - well OK Tim learned and I need some practice. See images below.
  • Meeting Jon and Phyllis Goldenbaum, owners of PolyFiber. FLASH - I just received a call that 200 lbs of PolyFiber material will be delivered to my house tomorrow morning!
  • Attending a party with Charles and Sue Stites in honor of Able Flight at a secret house with access to Oshkosh runway 36 where the Sonex clan hangs out during AirVenture.
  • Attending a very weird, very hip, very west coast party given by the Icon A5 folks. We're still trying to figure out what kind of music they were playing, bizarre.
  • Taking a ride around the grounds in a Korean-vintage Bell 47 helicopter Friday AM. We ascended right over the new Zeppelin NT, which is manufactured in my second home, Lake Constance Germany.
  • Watching the world's only B-29, the CAF's "Fifi" grease two landings. Watching an F-16 and an FJ Fury go off the end of the runway 36 - all's well that ends well.
  • Seeing the B787, a plane that incorporates a certain amount of my gray matter from my past career in aerodynamics. Its low noise on take off was phenomenal.
  • The reaction the talk I gave on Wednesday, which was quite positive. You can see my slides here.
  • Eats - my favorite was dinner at the Vintage Cafe Thursday evening with Tim and a few fellow members of my graduate school. We made it under cover just as a terrific thunderstorm hit.
More great news - our carburetor should be ready to pick up in the next few days. As soon as we know, I will contact everyone in case some wish to go back to the Marvel-Schebler facility in Gibsonville to learn about installation and maintenance of this little mechanical jewel.

Our next work session is tomorrow, Thursday, 8/4/2011, when we will install the compression struts in the wings and do some touchup varnishing. There are a few more things needed to do on the wings to prep them for covering.

Rib stitching - 15 year old farm girl from SW Wisconsin, Christine was a quick study at AirVenture and became the expert rib stitching teacher on the spot. She needed great patience with us though!

Tim under Christine's watchful eye.

"This old dude is hopeless" is surely what Christine was thinking.

Kent managed to get one stitch correct after 20 attempts. Christine remains unconvinced.

Below - various details of the Stits SA-11A Playmate on permanent display in the workshop area. We found a variety of details common to our Skycoupe. Click on any image for a larger version.

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