December 2013

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

Issue link: http://experimenter.epubxp.com/i/234576

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Page 12 of 40

"When I came back into aviation, I already had my sights set on building a Tailwind," said Jim. "I went to see Wittman, and he was just getting ready to bring out plans on his new version of the W-8, the W-10, but he hadn't drawn them up yet. So, he scribbled some notes on W-8 plans, and four of us in Baraboo bought plans and started building an airplane apiece." TW No. 4 – "I ran across a 160-hp Lycoming out of an Apache and had to build an airplane to put it on. This is the airplane the EAA used for the Café tests. It came in fairly light, 860 pounds, so it was a real runner. I'd planned on keeping it. But a guy wanted it worse than I did, so it went away." Here is that CAFE report. TW No. 5 – "A clone of No. 4 but a different color." The W-8 and the W-10 differ in seemingly minor details, but Jim said that on an airplane these little details really count. The fuselages are essentially the same except the longerons are different: The W-10's longerons are simpler and stouter, and the newer fuselage is 6 inches longer. Most of the increased length is actually the result of a bigger tail that is aerodynamically (not statically) balanced for lighter pressures. TW No. 6 – "This was my effort at building a tri-gear Tailwind and it really worked well. I did it differently than 'Witt' did and mounted the main gear in a truss behind the seat. Anyone on the planet can make good takeoff and landings in it. The nose gear cost 7 mph in top speed, no surprise, but I've sold a lot of drawings to people for it." The most noticeable thing the W-10 has is extended, trapezoidal wingtips that Jim said make a really big difference in approach. It glides better and is less critical, "softer" as Jim puts it, in the flare. Steve Wittman will forever be known as the master of low-dollar speed. And Then the Building Began and Never Stopped TW Nos. 7 and 8 – "By now I was really hitting my stride and did something crazy: I had been watching Jim Younkin restore Staggerwings on a semi-production line, and I thought I'd do two different Tailwinds in the same fashion. One was a 180-hp taildragger that was a real screamer with a wood prop. This was supposed to be my lifetime keeper, but again, a friend wanted it badly. The other airplane was a 160-hp tri-gear. I liked it, but I've always liked taildraggers better; so I didn't keep that one long. I will never do the two airplane thing again. It was incredibly monotonous!" The Tailwind Jim had seen at Cleveland with Wittman was powered by a 145-hp Continental O-300, a six-cylinder that Wittman liked because it was so smooth, if somewhat heavy. And that's what Jim used in what was to be the first in a long line of Tailwinds (TWs). TW No. 1 – "I built that airplane right to the plans," Jim said, "and I still say that people are far better off building the airplanes exactly the way Steve designed them. Too many builders think they're smarter than Steve Wittman, so they modify the airplane considerably. However, I have yet to meet the person who is actually smarter than Steve was." TW No. 2 – Jim flew No. 1 for a few years before building another Continental-powered TW. "On this one I used the so-called flat bottom wing that was supposed to be faster. I was trying to outrun a friend with a Glasair and couldn't do it in the first airplane. This one came really, really close. It was doing a little more than 200 at top end and cruising at 175 mph on about 7-1/2 gallons. This is about the same as a Lycoming O-320 does in the same airframe." TW No. 3 – "No. 3 was a W-8 project I picked up. It came with a converted GPU Lycoming, an O-290G that had been completely converted to aircraft specs. With 125 hp, it was nearly as fast as the earlier airplanes because it was a solid 45 pounds lighter. This really woke me up to the potential of Lycomings over the Continental. They were much lighter." TW No. 9 – "This was my attempt at building a really pretty airplane around a 160-hp Lycoming, and I think it worked out well. Incidentally, every one of these airplanes has been the one I am going to keep, but then something happens and it goes away. Then, when the workshop is empty for more than a few weeks, I start to get nervous. An empty workshop is a pitiful thing. So, I do it again. At the time, I had some real nice Douglas fir spar material; so I built a pair of wings just because I had the material and plywood in stock. I had no intention at that time of building another Tailwind. But with a pair of wings built and almost enough tubing for a fuselage, and then the engine became available, No. 10 was born." TW No. 10 – "This wasn't the first time I started an airplane just because I ran across the right engine. In this case it was a 180-hp XP-360 that had been in the back of a VariViggen that the pilot dropped in hard enough on the first flight that the airplane was destroyed and the engine and firewall just separated from the airplane. Zero damage EAA Experimenter 13

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