- Written by Ralph Weber
"What is that?"
by Rick Johnston,
Director of Operations, SOFH Museum.
If you were walking past a hanger at Moontown and saw what was in this particular one you might ask! What is that?!
In a private hanger tucked away at Moontown Airport is a bit of a secret project. Few know of its existence and fewer have seen what is going on. In the hanger amongst the two Yak 52M warbirds, a Citabria Decathlon, and an Experimental called Lionheart there is a table full of metal parts and what looks a bit like a skeleton of a biplane coming together. In fact that is what it is, a replica of a French Fighter airplane from World War I. Granted it is being built with aluminum structure not wood, and it is being built by hand, a one off and not manufactured. The airplane is a project of the Saving our Flying Heritage Museum group.
This is an experimental full-size flying airplane with a single seat for the pilot and little else but power and controls. The purpose of the aircraft is to educate the public by touring the fly in circuit in the area of middle Tennessee, and North Alabama and possibly some other close venues. The airplane will be flown into these events for the public to view them and get an idea of how primitive airplanes were one hundred years ago.
Gordy Seuell owns the hanger and keeps things moving for the team, while Rob King, David Pemberton, and Paul Messicks work on the airplane Monday and Thursdays each week for a couple of hours at a time. The status of the airplane is that the structure is about 75% completed. The wing spars are being fixed to the fuselage. Next, they will be installing some of the rigging and aluminum tubular ribs. I asked Gordy when he thinks they will be finished and he said about 9 months while Rob leans more toward a year before the first flight.
The airplane is a kit from Aerodrome Airplanes out of Missouri. The engine is a spare engine that Gordy Sewell donated. Although not the same rotary type originally in these fighters it develops the power required to fly very well.
The team building the airplane can always use more help and more resources.
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