It's So Old!

But it still smells fresh.

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With all this old stuff sticking around, you have to wonder how we keep it smelling so fresh.  Ha!  I've got quite the secret up my sleeve.

You see, my wonderful wife makes candles.  Not just any candles, but soy candles.  Highly scented, and at a price anybody can afford.  Even me.

So, cruise on over to Skyline Candle Company, and pick yourself up a candle or twelve.  I recommend the Waterfall Mist.  Smells so good.  Way better than all these moldy old headlines.

FMI: Skyline Candle Co.

Taildraggers, Inc. - Tricycles are for babies. -

Taildraggers, Inc. Archives - February 2011

These are our top stories and links from February 2011.  They're still cool, but we gotta keep the home page clean and quick to load!  Enjoy the Archives!

And as always, if you have a link or photo to share, we'd love to hear about it, and hopefully add it to the site.  We are also looking for guest writers and photographers to submit content.  If you would like to write an article or a photo essay, shoot us an email.  We won't pay you (we don't even pay ourselves), but we will give you full credit for any contributions.

Drop us a line anytime:

The Bosman RV-3The Bosman RV-3 - Ready to Rivet! 5.5/146 hours
Well, during the month of February I've managed to fit, trim and drill the left side HS skin (8 hrs), deburr both skins and the skeleton (2 hrs), set up the DRDT-2 dimpler and repair one of its supplemental tables that we broke during the move (1.5 hrs), dimple the skins (2 hrs), and today, dimple the skeleton (5.5).

I owe a lot to the guys on Vans Air Force (VAF) for information on how to properly set up the modern, beautiful, lever-action DRDT-2. I've used it before on my first start at an airplane project, the CX-4. (I was building it with dimpled, flush rivets and using the RV-3 instruction manual to figure out how to build it, so I switched over to the real RV-3 last summer.) Anyway, my CX-4 rudder skin had slightly dished-out dimples, which made the rivets hard to buck without denting the skins and leaving the rivets slightly proud. After examining a P-51 last year at Oshkosh closer than I ever had before, I realized that properly set flush rivets should be exactly that, "flush!" I wondered why my dimples weren't as perfect as the Mustang's. Possum, my tech counselor, said he didn't like the DRDT-2. He preferred the old-school C-Frame, and said that you had to pound each dimple twice on the C-frame to make a perfect dimple. His plane has perfect Lindy-winning dimples, so I couldn't really argue. Some guys on VAF said the same thing, but others said all you need to do is "preload' the DRDT-2 dimpler to put extra pressure on the skin. Ben has had it for a while, he paid good money for it, and I remember what it was like to pound dimples with a C-frame and a hammer when we built the RV-10 tail. It was loud, jarring work and it was easy to damage skins with a misplaced blow. I love the silent, easy motion of the DRDT-2... so I was very thankful to find out that there is hope for good dimples with it, after all.

You set it up so that the dimple dies touch each other when the lever is all the way down. Then, you crank them together an extra 3/4 turn. This places a lot of pressure on the dies so that it deforms the metal fully according to the shape of the dies. I made up a test strip with 4 holes. The first hole had zero preload, and it looked dishy, similar to the CX4 rudder skin-- which made sense, since I did not set any preload when I dimpled the CX4 skins. The last hole had 3/4 turn, and it was crisp. There was no distortion of the skin outside the immediate area of the dimple. The rivet sat slightly below the surface of the skin, but when I squeezed a test, the rivet came out flush and not proud. Excellent! (Photos will come when I get back to work and upload them off the other camera chip...)

After figuring out the DRDT-2 (without any help from the man, by the way, who was even slightly offended that I would consider his dimple-machine inferior,) and making the best dimples I could have dreamed of in the skins, how hard could it be to make dimples in the skeleton itself?

This was NOT a good way to start! SHIT!! It was like piercing an ear. As I tried to wriggle the pneumatic squeezer into position on the end of the spar, I prematurely bumped the lever. The alligator pressed the dimple die right through the spar flange just OUTSIDE the hole, which you can see just above the die. D'OH! I was just glad it's not in a place to worry about structural strength. It isn't pretty but it won't cause the tail to fall off, since it's on the tip.

The Bosman RV-3I removed the die and gave use of the pneumatic dimpler some additional thought... The jaws are really too big and awkward for these parts. And obviously, a mistake in placement of the dimple die will go unforgiven. So, I switched to the smaller hand squeezer. Ben ground the nose of the yoke flat a long time ago, during construction of the RV-10 tail, for dimpling holes close to spar webs-- which is what I need on this piece, since the spar doublers and rivet shop heads are very close to the rivet line. I continued up the spar line with the hand squeezer... oww... I have little bitch-hands with zero muscle mass, so this hurt, but I got them all done. To make sure the dimples were deep enough, I periodically checked them against a piece of .032 scrap with a dimple made by the DRDT-2 and the Cleaveland dies, and made sure it sat flat inside the skeleton dimple. There were several holes that were too close to the elevator hinges to dimple, so I countersunk those using the same scrap dimple gauge to check depth.

What did I do with the extra-hole monstrosity? I dimpled the "real" hole, which flattened the punched hole, and I will drive an OOPS rivet in there. I'll secure it with a drop of epoxy to keep the rivet from working loose, since the hole is not quite round anymore, and a bit bigger than the 1/8" OOPS rivet will fill. Something to put on the list of anomalies to check during each annual inspection, I suppose... I am glad that it's easily accessible, in case it works loose in the future.

-Katie Bosman

The Bosman RV-3 Blog
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Steve McQueen Stearman BiplaneThe King of Cool

Steve McQueen was a pilot, and by the looks of it, he was a REAL pilot.  Steve McQueen flew taildraggers.

I'm not one to worship movie stars and crap like that, but there's no denying the legacy of Steve McQueen.  He raced motorcycles and cars, did his own stunts, and was handsome, to boot.  On top of it all, he was a flyer.

From the LA Times:
"One day in 1979, the King of Cool decided to fly.

Before anyone knew it, Steve McQueen was living with his girlfriend in a hangar at the Santa Paula Airport. During the day, he learned to pilot a World War II-era biplane. In the evening, the tough-guy superstar would crack open cold beers with grease monkeys, fledgling pilots and aging flyboys who still had a few loop-de-loops left in them.

McQueen and his girlfriend, a stunning model who would become his third wife, slept on a four-poster brass bed amid his vintage motorcycles and airplane parts. His bright- yellow Stearman biplane loomed over their cramped quarters, its wings close enough to create a head-whacking hazard for someone groping through the dark.

Steve McQueen Stearman Biplane
But life was good: On Saturday nights, the couple kicked back in their hangar -- really a big storage shed -- to watch "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" on a black-and-white TV. Dinner was often a feed at the local Chinese restaurant.

"It was a sweet time in a sweet place," said Barbara McQueen, the last woman in his life. "We just loved it."

Sadly, the love affair with aviation was short-lived, as Steve died in November of 1980 from cardiac arrest following surgery to remove a large tumor from his neck.  If he had lived longer, there's no doubt he would have continued his personal involvement in flying.

These two photos are from his last wife's book, "Steve McQueen : The Last Mile".  The book contains about 150 candid photos of McQueen from 1977-1980.

I found them on a motorcycle blog, The Zen of Neato.  If you're into motorbikes, I recommend you spend about a week of your life clicking through this blog.  Fair warning, though...  There is just a pinch of nudity, so if exposed nipples aren't your bag, don't click the link.  If that doesn't bug you, then you'll be rewarded with some killer scoots.
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Discuss this in the Taildraggers, Inc. Forum

Video :: The Aviators - Season 1 : Episode 8

The Aviators is on Hulu.  What does that mean for us?  Well, it means you can watch it anytime, anywhere, so long as you have an internet connection.

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Stick & Rudder AviationNew CFI's Added 1102182122

    Stick & Rudder Aviation
        Instructor: Paul Leadabrand
        Location: Gowen Field, Boise, ID (KBOI)
        Telephone: (208) 477-1318
        Email: Click Here to Send a Message
        Aircraft: Kitfox SLSA
                      Tailwheel configured, with tundra tires.
        Rental Rates: $115-125/hr
        Instruction Rates: $50/hr
        Solo Rentals Available: Yes
        Additional Information: The FIRST in the world to offer a Kitfox to the public for flight training for
        backcountry proficiency, tailwheel endorsements, and Sport Pilot training. The Kitfox is also available for
        rent post the completion of a flight training program and meeting the insurance minimums. Paul has 37
        years and 13,000 hours of flight training experience.

Canyon Flying    Canyon Flying
        Instructor: Amy L. Hoover
        Location: McCall Municipal, McCall, ID (KMYL)
                       Bowers Field, Ellensburg, WA (KELN)
        Telephone: (509) 899-5178
        Email: Click Here to Send a Message
        Aircraft: 2009 American Champion Explorer
        Rental Rates: $150/hr
        Instruction Rates: $45/hr
        Solo Rentals Available: No
        Additional Information: I have been flying and
        teaching in the Idaho back country for 22 years.
        Instruction in your aircraft or mine out of McCall
        Idaho June - August. Instruction in the Washington
        Cascades Sept - May.

If you operate a flight school, or offer training in tailwheel aircraft, please let us know.  We would love to add your information to our CFI / Flight School page.  It's getting harder and harder to find good tailwheel airplanes to rent, and just as hard to find competent tailwheel CFI's.  Our hope is to connect as many students and renters with as many CFI's and flight schools as possible.  Let's all work together to keep the art of tailwheel flying alive and well!

Visit our CFI / Flight School page for all of our listing, and to learn how to get yourself or your school added.
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The Bosman RV-3The Bosman RV-3 - Honey, I'm home... 2.0/127

So tonight we came home from work, Ben made me dinner, and then he sat down to watch his vampire/werewolf show and I went into the garage to work on my plane. This ain't the 50's anymore, Donna Reed!

Anyway, I got the other skin fitted to the stab frame. I did in one hour what it took 3 weeks to do when I didn't have a clue what to do next! Amazing what a little experience can do.

-Katie Bosman

The Bosman RV-3 Blog
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OT Video :: But There are Airplanes...

Who is Ken Block?  I don't know.  Who is James May?  He's one of the guys from Top Gear, right?  Is this what they call "drifting"?  Who cares.  Just watch the video and pretend that it's not completely staged.  Let your mind relax, and enjoy!

For the rest of us aero-nerds, this was filmed at Inyokern Airport, Inyokern, CA (KIYK).  Or so I've been told.
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Video :: Never Underestimate a Lady Taildragger!

It's an all-girl day here at Taildraggers, Inc.  We've added two new female CFI's to the CFI page, and now Judy Birchler of Ladies Love Taildraggers sent me this great photo montage video.  I know I've said this before, but I really believe that women are very much under-represented in aviation.  Statistically, we have a HUGE amount of room for improvement in recruiting and retaining female pilots.  It's the efforts of people like Judy that will encourage other women to learn to fly, and remain active as recreational pilots.

To see all of the Ladies Love Taildragger pilots, visit
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Learn to Fly Here!New CFI's Added 1102081915

    Ann Elsbach, Travelling CFI
        Instructor: Ann Elsbach
        Location: Murray Field Airport, Eureka, CA (KEKA)
                       Palo Alto Airport, Palo Alto, CA (KPAO)
        Telephone: (650) 868-5773
        Email: Click Here to Send a Message
        Website: and
        Instruction Rates: Packages available
        Solo Rentals Available: No
        Additional Information: I fly anywhere in the US to work with tailwheel transition students. I have been a
        CFI for 35 years and have 12,000 hours total time, the majority in tailwheel airplanes. I have flown 45
        different models of taildraggers.  One of my specialties over the years has been to work with folks who
        have a fear of flying, or shall we say are less than comfortable in an airplane. I have also worked with
        those who saw themselves as taking more time learning than most. I am a very patient instructor who has
        a contagious love for flying, especially in tailwheel aircraft.

        Also, please check out Ann's post on Ladies Love Taildraggers:

    N6821G, Inc.
        Instructor: Carla I. Mueller
        Location: Recently relocated to Lexington, SC and looking for an airport to base at.  Will travel to
        surrounding airports to teach.
        Telephone: (727) 457-0489
        Email: Click Here to Send a Message
        Website: Coming Soon!
        Aircraft: C-150, currently own and teach in, but do have 200+ tailwheel time in various tailwheel types
        including Maule, C185/180, Taylorcraft BC12D, C-140, PT17, Mustang II MUS2, Luscombe, Cub, etc.
        Rental Rates: Negotiable
        Instruction Rates: $40/hr (negotiable)
        Additional Information: I currently have 5000+ hours, love to teach, easy going, have my ATP and great
        instrument time flying single pilot freight, I love to teach instruments as well, and I am also a Sport Pilot
        instructor, I was working for the FAA in the Light Sport Aviation department. (Please don't hold that
        against me).

        Don't worry, Carla.  We won't hold the LSA FAA experience against you.  :)          -Wayne 

If you operate a flight school, or offer training in tailwheel aircraft, please let us know.  We would love to add your information to our CFI / Flight School page.  It's getting harder and harder to find good tailwheel airplanes to rent, and just as hard to find competent tailwheel CFI's.  Our hope is to connect as many students and renters with as many CFI's and flight schools as possible.  Let's all work together to keep the art of tailwheel flying alive and well!

Visit our CFI / Flight School page for all of our listing, and to learn how to get yourself or your school added.
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The Bosman RV-3The Bosman RV-3 - Progress at Last. 15/125 Hours

I'll admit, I've been a little bit lazy with the blog lately. I've picked at the plane here and there over the past few weeks, but felt increasingly crappy about the project. The stab skins are thick, bulky, heavy, and put up a mental and physical fight with me every time I went into the garage. I made the plywood clamps like Van's specifies a couple weeks ago, but they suck. The skins flopped around and the clamps did not hold them anywhere near their final place, and to make matters worse, I thought I dented the skin with the hard edge of the plywood when I removed the big clamp the last time. Thank God the damn skin is so thick, it survived the blunder. I had an idea to clamp a pair of 2x4s to parallel the front spar, spreading out the clamping force along a straight line instead of over the airfoil shape, but 2x4s are really heavy and I didn't want to twist the skeleton. And who am I to make a jig better than Van? All the frickin' woodworking, and visualizing, and plumb-bobbing, and slooooow progress had me wondering whether I even had the skills for this. It didn't help that the RV-12 we are building at work goes together like a kid's jigsaw puzzle, and Possum and Pete are finishing components faster than I can take pictures of it.

But finally this weekend, I had a sort of breakthrough revelation. Suddenly I told myself:

1. You are not too good for duct tape. The shit's marvelous, and you have a mile of it in your tool box.
2. Don't spend too much time visualizing and pre-planning how you are to do a task. You don't have enough building experience for that yet, so there is a very good chance that your plan won't work, and all the time you spend visualizing is a waste. Get out there, handle the parts and let the airplane help you figure out how to execute each task.
3. Van's instructions are a simple read, but deep in intention. Sometimes it takes several readings over several days before the best way to do a thing sinks in.
4. Use the experience learned from scratch-building the CX4 tail to lead you.
5. You can drill a 3-foot rivet line with variation less than a thin sharpie line wide. That rivet line is not perfect like a pre-punched skin. This airplane is DIFFERENT from every other. It's organic, much like an impressionist painter's brush stroke or a freckled face. Its beauty will be in its character. Do your best to build a clean, straight airplane, but it won't look like a CAD punched pre-manufactured kit, so quit obsessing over it. Its character is something to embrace, not defeat. It may not win any shows, but that's OK, as long as YOU are proud of it!

The Bosman RV-3With that, I was able to loosen up a bit and free my mind of the fear of screwing up. I was able to take control of the unruly skins by using whatever amount of duct tape I needed to get them in their place. Finally, after the misery of the plywood clamps, I decided to try the 2x4 idea, only using lighter-weight 1x2s. Found some at work in the junk (hee hee, free stuff!) and tried it on Saturday. Took some fiddling & enlarging of the bolt holes to get them to go on easily, but BINGO, they worked like a freakin' charm. A long 1/4" carriage bolt in each end made it really easy to get the skin to set down flat along the entire length of the stab, and adjust the tension when necessary. I probably should have put wing nuts on them to make it ridiculously easy to adjust. The best part is, it was entirely my idea. Ben had nothin to do with it!

The Bosman RV-3After initial fitting, I was going to trim the trailing edge to an angle that made the tip rib fit the LE better, but Ben talked me out of it. (again, trust Van's instructions that said NOTHING about trimming the TE, just the ends.) Instead I blocked up the TE by trimming a pair of 2x4 blocks to sit on the jig crosspiece, with the top surface exactly 3/16" below the spar, to allow gravity to give me the required skin overhang aft of the rear spar. (Why fight gravity with clamps when you can harness it?) This set up a baseline location for the skin. Once the skin was clamped in place solidly onto the skeleton, I transferred the locations of the spars and ribs to the skin via sharpie.

One major thing I did change from Van's instructions was that I did not want to drill the rivet holes blindly through the skin, into the skeleton. I've spent WAY too much time on that damn thing to risk running a rivet line off an edge. Plus, my drill control is not quite steady enough to make a straight rivet line in mid-air. Instead, I transferred all the rivet lines and pitfalls like flutes and relief holes onto the insides of the skin. The Bosman RV-3Then, I laid out the rivet spacing, center punched, and drilled the skin on the workbench. After that, it was pretty easy to re-clamp the skin to the skeleton and match drill the skeleton to the skin. I may have enlarged the skin holes just a micro bit, but I think it was a good tradeoff, since I ended up drilling nearly perfectly centered and straight rivet lines. :-D I used a #41 bit, so the holes are slightly undersized anyway.

My hand's a little sore from 108 rivet holes per side-- each one center punched, drilled, match drilled and clecoed today. Add that up, -12 builders! :-P

So, I'm happy with it and feeling better about the whole thing. Like maybe it will fly someday...

-Katie Bosman

The Bosman RV-3 Blog
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Looking for some more Aerotainment?  Go to December 2010 :: OR :: Check out the Archives!