Experimenter

September 2012

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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What our Members are Bui lding Jack Bally's B-17 A 1/3-scale wonder By: Chad Jensen Many of you have heard or read about Jack Bally and his 1/3-scale B-17 project over the last few years. I fi rst read about him and his rather enthusiastic undertaking in the June 2009 issue of the EAA Experimenter e-newsletter. A few updates have cropped up here and there since, but no one had reported on the project fi rsthand. With the launch of this new EAA Experimenter digital publication, we thought it was time for an in-person update. Jack and his wife, Carolyn, have created a home in the woods out of a machine shop. "Machine shop" sounds kind of dingy and dirty, but this place is impressive. It's clean, light, and very conducive to building airplanes— something Jack is absolutely passionate about. As I walked into the wide open doors of his shop, I immediately noticed the fuselage of the B-17 hanging in plastic wrap from the rafters. It is more or less fi nished, just waiting to be lowered and mated to the wings again. It was hoisted up to the rafters shortly after the wings were mated the fi rst time, and the work Jack has been doing since then has been heavily concentrated on the systems in the wings and engine installations. During my visit in June, Jack was working on the intake system for each engine, but he was able to show me how the landing gear retraction system works, as well as the fl aps and ailerons. The level of detail in his work is simply astonishing. I kept wandering off into Detail Land while admiring the work and would forget that I am looking at a real, soon-to-be-fl ying airplane. There are so few places that Jack had to bend the scale rule on this airplane. Every time he would show me some detail, all I could say was "Wow." The rivet lines are correct, the size of the cowls are correct—even the stiffeners inside the cowl are correct! The landing gear actuates properly, and the propellers are scale. It's just simply an amazing sight to see all of this in person; pictures just don't do it any justice. Jack has had many visitors over the years he has been building this airplane, and several of them were former B-17 pilots or crew members. Listening to Jack talk about the visitors is another story; this scale airplane is so accurate that many of his visitors were at a loss for 26 NO. 1 / SEPTEMBER 2012

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