Fly Baby

Discussion in 'Home Builders and Sport Pilots' started by jssaylor2007, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. jssaylor2007

    jssaylor2007 Pre-Flight

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    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  2. jssaylor2007

    jssaylor2007 Pre-Flight

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    Also cost estimates on this plane if anyone could throw a number off the top of their head, the listing says $300 annual, but renting a hangar, stupid little costs etc.
     
  3. tonycondon

    tonycondon Gastons CRO (Chief Dinner Reservation Officer)

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    my best friend Matt Michael has a nice flybaby, N48ML. I assume you've read through www.bowersflybaby.com ? Tons of info there and Ron often posts here as well. There is a very active yahoo group that you should join.

    That is a really nice looking flybaby! I've flown matt's several times, including an 8.5 hr day to have lunch with Kim and Diana one time. That was wild. The plane handles great and is a joy to fly. Pretty stable but responsive, has that magic control responsiveness/harmony that just puts a smile on your face.
     
  4. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    Ron Wanttaja may have some advice. If you do buy, you may need to add an extra dial to the panel like he has (hint, its on the right):

    [​IMG]
     
  5. tonycondon

    tonycondon Gastons CRO (Chief Dinner Reservation Officer)

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    the one in the ad already has a fun meter
     
  6. poadeleted21

    poadeleted21 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A modern, complete FlyBaby panel, no need to contact the avionics shop.
     
  7. wanttaja

    wanttaja Pattern Altitude

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    Whoa, that's the Joe Dougherty Fly Baby...one of the nicest ones out there, and as the ad says, an Oshkosh award winner. It's not even that old (less than ten years) and Joe did a lot of work on it after he bought it in 2007.

    I've got a guide to buying used Fly Babies at:

    http://www.bowersflybaby.com/safety/used.htm

    The $300 annual is believable; I pay a flat-rate of $250 for mine. I believe Joe's airplane doesn't have an electrical system, which can make it significantly cheaper, maintenance-wise. Most of my problems have been related to the starter, generator, battery, radios, etc.

    You can call your local airport to find out what hangars are going for. The Fly Baby is small enough that you often can share a hangar with someone, but it's best to budget for having to pay for one yourself. Wthout an electrical system, if you can remove the handheld between flights, you can probably leave it in an open T-hangar with little risk. Check your local airport for rental rates, but you're probably looking at 200-300 a month.

    The folding wings may make you think you can trailer it home, or stick in the corner of someone else's hangar, but the Fly Baby wing folding/unfolding process is a bit more complex than modern homebuilts. Count on leaving the wings unfolded.

    If I remember right, my last annual insurance bill was about $180. Liability only.

    The only thing I might interject is whether this would be your first airplane. Production-type airplanes are more expensive to own, but you have a "safety net" of A&Ps that can solve most problems. If you decide to go for ANY homebuilt, make sure there's a local A&P willing to work on it.

    One good approach might be to find a partner, especially one that has owned airplanes. Fly Babies don't get that many miles piled on them, and shared ownership can work pretty well.

    We have a mailing list on Yahoo where you can ask questions, and get some answers from pretty knowledgeable folks:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/flybabylist/

    You can give me a shout as well.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  8. jssaylor2007

    jssaylor2007 Pre-Flight

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    Would this be something I could put a starter in, or radios.
     
  9. wanttaja

    wanttaja Pattern Altitude

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    Radio isn't a problem; note the picture of the cockpit on Barnstormer's and you'll see a handheld mounted to the side cockpit wall. If you want a panel-mounted radio instead, that's not much of a problem, either... install a motorcycle battery and slap a trickle charger on it once you land. My generator was bad for several months, and a bit of ground charge was sufficient to let me fly.

    Finding a place to put a permanent radio might be a problem. I panel-mounted a standard handheld radio on my Fly Baby...good approach if you have the panel real estate for it. If you look at the picture of my panel that Jim posted, the radio is the calculator-looking thing to the left of the Fun Meter.

    http://www.bowersflybaby.com/tech/velcro.html

    Starter is more of a problem. Folks *have* added starters to A65s, but it's something really beyond the ken of mere mortals. Hamp Aircraft Services does have a starter modificatdion, but the cost approaches $2000. It uses an electric drill to turn the engine.

    http://www.bowersflybaby.com/tech/fenton.htm#More_on_the_Hamp_Starter_for_A65s

    Hand-propping isn't that hard or difficult (especially with an A65) but it is a bit intimidating. If you decide to do it, make sure the plane has a remote-release tail hook.

    http://www.bowersflybaby.com/tech/tailhook.html

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  10. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    You're right; I didn't look closely enough.
     
  11. jssaylor2007

    jssaylor2007 Pre-Flight

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    Well looks like I missed the chance on a couple of great priced Fly Babies.

    I have a question for Ron. How difficult is it to add a canopy to one? My CFI told me that the fly baby he owned had both a canopy and electronics. He also said that electronics is something you can live without, but around here a canopy sure is nice.
     
  12. tonycondon

    tonycondon Gastons CRO (Chief Dinner Reservation Officer)

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    not too difficult, the one I have occasionally flown, N48ML, has a side opening canopy. Description and pictures of how it was built are on the flybaby website
     
  13. wanttaja

    wanttaja Pattern Altitude

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    Hmmmm....your profile says, "Lubbock, Texas." Wouldn't think you'd need a canopy THAT often! :)

    Pete Bowers designed the airplane with a removable turtledeck for easy conversion to a canopy system. Matt Michael, the owner of the Fly Baby that Tony flies, modified his and did a nice write-up:

    http://www.bowersflybaby.com/tech/canopy.html

    Lew Mason, of San Antonio, put a canopy similar to Matt's on his Fly Baby:

    [​IMG]
     
  14. jssaylor2007

    jssaylor2007 Pre-Flight

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    Well it may say Texas, but this is the one region of Texas that gets pretty consistently cold in the winter. Combine that with the 60 mph winds we had today, and it can be pretty brutal. We also get snow in the winter! lol

    Ok well i am glad to see the canopy is an easy fix. My other question would be what are your thoughts on turbo alternators?
     
  15. wanttaja

    wanttaja Pattern Altitude

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    Our Fly Baby engine guru, Harry Fenton, isn't too impressed by wind generators:

    http://www.bowersflybaby.com/tech/wind_gen.html

    Basically, they really don't provide that much benefit. For a Fly Baby, a motorcycle and a trickle charger on the ground should be sufficient.

    The generator on my Fly Baby went bad, and it took me an entire summer to get it fixed. I ran just fine with throwing a charger on the battery every once in a while...and I have a starter.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  16. dmccormack

    dmccormack Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ron -- while the remote release is a nice-to-have, is it truly required?

    :confused:
     
  17. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It speeds up the process. Most runaways on hand props are due to the initial throttle setting being too high. If you leave the thing tied down while propping and then get into and get the throttle back to idle, you usually don't have too much risk while you untie it. Of course, you still risk the throttle vibrating open or you kicking it while trying to mount the plane.

    You can always use the infamous "Spanish Running Noose."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFMZq57KcOY
     
  18. dmccormack

    dmccormack Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I know it would be easier (I hand prop every time I fly the Chief), but I wouldn't want to leave rope lying everywhere.

    My technique is:

    1. Tie down tail
    2. Chock both mains (in front of tires) with two chocks linked with 12' 1/4 nylon rope


    1. Once engine warms, reduce throttle to low idle (600 RPM) and walk to back and release tail tie down.
    2. Reduce RPM to low idle, lean forward and pull chock rope to release chocks. If they do not release hold onto strut to get better angle. If they cannot be removed then shut down and start all over again with chocks in better position to release (it happens).

    I toss the chocks and the rope into the baggage area behind the seat, climb in, and taxi.

    The remote release would mean no walking back to untie and gather the rope. Everything else would be the same.
     
  19. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    That particular Fly Baby I have seen at OSH and if I wanted a Fly Baby I would likely just walk up to him with the cash he was asking in my pocket and leave with the plane and as much of the cash as I could negotiate. If I have gas money to get home, I'm good.
     
  20. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    For practical purposes with a Fly Baby, yeah. You want it secure as you're getting in, not like a Cub, T-Craft or Champ which you can bail into if you must.

    You can find tow hook rigs around for not too much. I can check down the road with a couple big banner operators if you want one.
     
  21. dmccormack

    dmccormack Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ok -- that makes sense. Pretty easy to fall into the Chief (even at 6'1")

    I guess insertion/extraction is a bit more time-consuming in a Fly Baby.
     
  22. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Yeah, and potentially more precarious depending on how well built the perches and purchases are. With low wing there is a distinct need for a proper quick release for safe one man operations. In reality it's not a big deal, you either hook a line or chain on the ramp, or if you hangar you just have a 3' SS cable pennant permanently on the corner post. Just swing the tail over on the way out and clip it in, pull tight and chock the wheels. A tow hook does make it simple to be safe.
     
  23. dmccormack

    dmccormack Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I use the cross bar for the hangar door at home, and a fence post or even fuel farm guard to tie to when away.

    A few times I've used a US Army GP Medium tent peg. It works.
     
  24. wanttaja

    wanttaja Pattern Altitude

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    Not REQUIRED required, if you catch my drift. It's a nice thing to have.

    Dan posted a good, safe sequence that he uses for starting his own airplane. As was also mentioned, climbing into to a Fly Baby after start is a bit more complex than your typical high-wing antique. I inadvertently started N500F at full throttle once, and it seemed to take forever getting around the wingtip to throttle back.

    What a remote release gives is convenience, and with convenience, there's less chance that you won't tie down the plane before flipping the prop ("Weather's coming in, I don't want to have to go back and forth to untie the tail, I'll just prop it free-standing...")

    I kept a hank of rope in the baggage compartment, but only had to use it once in the ~7 years I flew the original Fly Baby. I had a rope tied to a hangar stanchion for starting at home. When flying to other airports, I usually parked in a transient spot where there were tiedown ropes. When I got ready to go, I'd tie a loop in the end of one, slip it into the hook, pull the plane forward, start the engine, climb in and bolt myself down, wave off the observer who's trying to tell me the taill was still tied down, then pull the release when I was ready to taxi.

    I always pull-tested the tiedown ropes before using them, and that's the one time I ended up using my own. The tiedowns at this airport were sun-bleached and broke with a moderate tug. I pulled out my knife, cut off ten feet of rope, tied the tail down, and started the engine. No big deal.

    There's only twice that I wasn't able to tie down. Once was when the engine quit on final on a 15-degree day. Rolled onto the taxiway, but there wasn't any real way to tie it down. Check throttle, check throttle, flip, climb in and go. The second time was visiting a grass strip where the owner (who normally started me when I visited) turned out to not be home. I was 100 feet from the nearest tree, across a dirt road. Check throttle, check throttle, flip, and go.

    In short, the remote-release hook is a great aid, but don't make it a required piece of equipment when you're shopping for a Fly Baby. After you own it, you can buy or build one.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  25. fgcason

    fgcason En-Route

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    Ron,

    Do you know anyone who's done the biplane version?
    I like biplanes and I don't care how slow I go as long as it's safe. (the slower I go the more flying time I get anyway)

    This looks like a fun project plane to build over a few years in my spare time.
     
  26. wanttaja

    wanttaja Pattern Altitude

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    I know a few online friends who have one, but haven't been around one much.

    The additional wing improves takeoff and climb, but cost in cruise speed. On the plus side, it lets the builder install shock-absorbing gear and avoids the issues related to monoplane wing bracing.

    Looks pretty good, too....
    [​IMG]

    With THAT said...there are a lot of rather nice little single-seat biplane designs out there. If I wanted a biplane, I think I'd build a Hatz and get a two-seater out of it.

    The Fly Baby is one of the few designs that can be built as either a monoplane or biplane, and is one of the even fewer that can be converted back and forth within an hour or so. That was Bowers' main target; he wasn't just trying to produce yet another biplane.

    One thing about the biplane is that Bowers lost his illustrator about 3/4 the way through writing the plans. The biplane plane aren't really as complete as the monoplane version...the written text peters out and the last batch of illustrations are just sketches.

    My advice for builders is to make the monoplane version, since there's two wings and a center section less to build. Build the biplane mods into the fuselage (they can be added after completion, but it's easier during construction), get flying in a monoplane version, and if you're still hankering for a biplane, you can be flying while building the new wings.

    I have the biplane addendum available for free download on the Fly Baby web page:

    http://www.bowersflybaby.com/#Free_Biplane_Plans_Download

    I've also got the first 50 pages of the main plans available for free:

    http://www.bowersflybaby.com/plans_sample.pdf

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  27. jssaylor2007

    jssaylor2007 Pre-Flight

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    Ron I figured you might be familiar with the fly baby that was my CFI's first plane. It was N2288C. He said it was destroyed beyond repair from wind damage, but I do believe it is in the first few pages of the build manual where all of the different pictures of the fly baby's are.
     
  28. wanttaja

    wanttaja Pattern Altitude

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    That was the Frank Londo airplane...

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
  29. jssaylor2007

    jssaylor2007 Pre-Flight

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    That fits the description he has given me. He said he was very fortunate to get such a well built airplane as his first owned plane.

    He said it had a C85-12 if I remember correctly.
     
  30. fgcason

    fgcason En-Route

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    Thanks Ron.

    I'm a few years out from doing anything however the longer term plan is to build a fun plane. I am currently poking around at different designs that I can build when the time comes. Inexpensive to build and fly, fun, fly off grass, do it right, enjoy the build process then fly it when it's ready to fly is the plan.

    I agree about the monoplane first with the biplane modifications during the initial build. And who knows, the monoplane may be too much fun to add the second set of wings to but the option and plans is nice to have without invasive modifications later.

    I didn't know about the Hatz. I'll have to look into that now.
     
  31. wanttaja

    wanttaja Pattern Altitude

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    And for those interested in the Fly Baby, around the St. Louis area, we're having a Fly Baby 50th Anniversary Fly-In at Sparta Mount Vernon IL on the 8th of September:


    Gonna be real laid-back, with the emphasis on fun.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012
  32. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    No promises but I hope to be able to make an appearance in N48ML. Any idea how many FlyBaby's will be there?
     
  33. timwinters

    timwinters Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    That's only 50NM from here...I might come over for grins.
     
  34. wanttaja

    wanttaja Pattern Altitude

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    Sparta is the home base for Brian "Brain" Kissenger, who is doing all the organizing. He bases his Fly Baby there. The Flying Monkeys Squadron is from the area, and Brian's a member.
    [​IMG]
    His plane is on the far right. I think at least one of these has sold since this picture was taken, but don't know whether it stayed local.

    So...we're looking at probably two, plus (hopefully) yours. That would be more than were at Oshkosh.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  35. tinerj

    tinerj Line Up and Wait

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    I have a Fly Baby with a starter, but no electrical 'system.' Instead, it has a battery on board that powers only the starter. The battery needs charged periodically, but not that often. I'm looking into putting a solar charger somewhere to keep it topped off.
     
  36. wanttaja

    wanttaja Pattern Altitude

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    That's the best approach, with a small sport aircraft. You aren't required to have a transponder within a Mode C veil, only if you actually want to enter the airspace. A fully charged battery will do a number of starts. I ran about a whole year on my airplane with a bum generator, just plugging the battery into charge every once in a while.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  37. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Anybody ever put a Fly Baby on floats?
     
  38. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    Yes
    [​IMG]
     
  39. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    They're a very capable machine - here I am high and slow:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
  40. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    What is your lap tank made of?