Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Historic Replicas


They provide one way to keep the spirit of aviation’s history alive for future generations


Aviation has a rich and colorful past and, over the years, many people have made noteworthy contributions to help keep history alive. Not the least of the contributors have been those people working in conjunction with organizations, or on their own, to keep early aircraft in the air. With each passing year, it becomes more difficult and expensive to maintain and operate original surviving aircraft. Replicas, built from scratch or kits, provide an alternative way for us and future generations to still see rare birds in flight and allow our imaginations to return to the times of aviation's pioneers. Unfortunately, not all efforts to build and operate such replicas are successful, and the NTSB is called on to find out what went wrong.

Fokker Triplane
An experimental amateur-built Fokker DR.1 triplane crashed two miles northeast of Parker, Colo., resulting in serious injuries to the ATP-rated pilot who was the only person on board. The weather was VFR for the planned flight from Centennial Airport (APA) in Englewood, Colo., to the Platte Valley Airpark in Fort Lupton, Colo. Weather at APA included clear sky, wind at seven knots, visibility 10 miles and temperature 77 degrees F.

FAA records showed that the airplane received takeoff clearance from the APA tower just after 9:40 a.m. About 2 1⁄2 minutes later, Denver Center radar showed that the airplane had reached 6,200 feet MSL, and it was positioned slightly east of the takeoff runway. The APA field elevation is 5,885 feet MSL. Radar showed the airplane made a left turn to approximately 95 degrees and had a ground speed of about 93 knots. The radar data showed the airplane gradually climbed to 6,700 feet, then entered a descending left turn at just after 9:46 a.m. The airplane struck the ground, which was at an elevation of 6,170 feet MSL.

A husband and wife heard the airplane heading toward their house, and went outside in time to see it pass overhead. They said it was yawing to the left and was a couple of hundred feet up.

The pilot required seven months of healing and physical therapy. He told investigators he couldn't recall any of the events of that day and said that the first thing he remembered after the accident was waking up in the hospital. The pilot had reported about 19,650 flight hours at the time: His FAA second class medical certificate was issued about six months before the accident. According to the airplane's owner, the pilot had about 150 hours in the accident airplane.

The airplane was a full-scale replica of a World War I German Fokker DR.1 triplane. It was painted red and marked to resemble the airplane flown and made famous by the Red Baron, ace German fighter pilot Baron Manfred Von Richtofen. The three-wing airplane had only one seat, was built in 1978, and had an airworthiness certificate in the experimental amateur-built category. Power was from a modern Lycoming IO-360-B4D fuel-injected engine rated at 180 hp at 2,800 rpm. At the accident site, the airplane's tachometer showed 638.38 hours.

The accident site was in a rolling pasture. The cowling and forward fuselage around the engine were broken and fragmented. The cockpit floor was crushed upward. The cockpit walls were bent and broken outward and down. The instrument panel was broken forward and fragmented. The windshield with replica machine guns was broken. The wings were broken, as was the fuselage aft of the cockpit. The empennage and tailwheel showed no damage. Control continuity was confirmed.



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