Experimenter

MAY 2015

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.

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EAA Experimenter 11 Paul's Planes Reviewing his legacy BY BUDD DAVISSON IN THE BEGINNING, there was Paul Poberezny. Or was it Bernie Pietenpol? Or Ed Heath? Or Wilbur and Orville, Otto Lilienthal, ad infi nitum? The truth is that the homebuilding movement is, and always has been, the very essence of aviation from the beginning. All of the pioneers were homebuilders. For that rea- son, the sport aviation/homebuilding movement has dozens of founding fathers spread out over as many periods. However, when we think about sport aviation, homebuilding, and EAA, we trace everything back to Paul, his dedicated friends, and a small group of aircraft. Homebuilt airplanes, even kit airplanes, predate World War I, but only a few of those survived the economic and technologi- cal waves of change to resurface after World War II. That's when Paul, still an active-duty military pilot with a driving pas- sion for grassroots fl ying, re-established the homebuilt kit plane market and simultaneously founded the EAA. It is somehow lost to history that Paul, along with Carl Walters and Clif DuCharme, was a kit plane manufacturer. More important, through his original designs and redesigns of earlier homebuilt aircraft, Paul actually helped to initiate the second (or third) rebirth of the homebuilt movement. The postwar homebuilt community relied heavily on 1920s and 1930s designs. The 1932 Flying and Glider Manual was nearly a bible, with Gere Sports, Heath Parasols, and the ever- present Pietenpol among the mainstays. Paul knew those designs intimately, and when designing his one-of Little Audrey (using the Howard "Pete" fuselage) and Little Poop Deck, he borrowed heavily on their technology. However, it was the Corben Ace series of aircraft that really caught his eye. Paul was in the process of deploying to Korea in 1952, when he heard that the Corben Sport Plane tooling and plans were in storage in Madison, Wisconsin, and might be for sale. When he returned from Korea in 1953, he fl ew to Madison, inspected what was available, and two hours later was the proud owner of the rights and two tractor-trailer loads of tooling and parts. For the princely sum of $200, he was in the homebuilt plans busi- ness, which quickly saw him and his partners of ering materials, tack-welded fuselages, and completely pre-welded kits. The plans sold for $13. Initially, Corben Aircraft (which became Ace Aircraft and assorted other names) concentrated on the Ace and Jr. Ace, but as originally designed in the 1930s, those designs had their shortcomings. Paul, in conjunction with Stan Dzik as the draftsman/engineer, set about bringing them into the postwar era. More important, he set the goals that were to remain his trademarks as a designer and as EAA founder: The airplane had to be easy to build, easy to fl y, and easy to af ord. His life- long goal was to give aviation to the common man and that started with the Baby Ace, which incidentally is light-sport aircraft (LSA) compliant. BABY ACE MODEL C Among the modifi cations made while re-engineering the Ace to be a Model C and conform to existing Civil Aeronautics Authority (the precursor to the Federal Aviation Administration) regulations, Poberezny made use of some of the most common aviation parts in existence at the time: J-3 Cub components. Just less than 20,000 J-3 Cubs had been produced before Paul started redesigning the Baby Ace; so spare parts were plentiful and cheap, and Paul made good use of them. The original Ace outrigger landing gear was replaced by the bungee V-gear from the J-3. Ditto for the cowl and fuel tankā€”all dif - cult-to-fabricate parts. To make his airplanes economical to operate, Paul usually defaulted to the ever-present 65-hp Continental A-65 or 85-hp C-85. The A-65 was and is plentiful and relatively inexpensive. To make his airplanes easy to build, the airframes are totally tradi- tional: The entire Ace series relies upon wood wings with truss ribs and a welded steel-tube fuselage. After Poberezny and his partners sold Ace Aircraft and the original designs, those which he redesigned became known as "Pobers," that is, the Pober Ace, etc. He and his companies retained the rights to those versions. One of the events that gave the homebuilt movement a tre- mendous shot in the arm was in 1955 when Mechanix Illustrated magazine asked Paul to write and illustrate a major three-part article in which he chronicled building a complete Baby Ace. It's possible that no single event had as much impact on the growth of the homebuilding movement. Corben Jr. Ace

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