Wings On. Wings Off.

June 29, 2013 was a perfect day for putting the wings on my Bede BD-4C airplane for the first time. “With a little help from my friends” and family, we carried the wings out of the garage, rolled the fuselage out into the sunshine, and then installed the wings. Here is a shot of the fuselage coming out of the garage. (Click on this photo, or any other, to see larger versions.) The nose wheel is off the ground because I have to push the tail down to clear the door; but it is more fun to pretend that the plane is taking off.

BD-4C fuselage poking its nose out of the garage.

BD-4C fuselage poking its nose out of the garage. The left wing is on the grass in the foreground, upside down. The right wing is on the grass in the background, in front of the stop sign.

Putting the wings on was easy (for me). All I did was keep my head down while Al and Chris and David and Rich did the heavy lifting. Thanks, men! You are true heroes!

Installing the left wing

Installing the left wing.

Lifting the right wing into position

Lifting the right wing into position.

With the wings on the plane, I used an aviation-grade Sharpie crammed into the weldment on the end of the flaps to precisely mark the gussets where I need to make a cut-out for the flap controls.

Marking the gusset for a cut-out for the flap controls

Marking the gusset for a cut-out for the flap controls.

I also marked the gussets for the pass-through for the aileron torque tubes. Then I used a digital angle finder to set the angle of incidence for the wings: 3° nose-up.

Setting the angle of incidence.

Setting the angle of incidence.

The result? With willing friends, the work was done and we were ready to party well before noon, when the open house officially began. With the wings on the plane and the bright sun reflecting off of them, I think the Bede BD-4C must have been pretty visible from the air. Several airplanes made passes over the house, apparently checking us out. One plane even flew a dog-leg course to take a look on Sunday.

BD-4C with wings attached

Candy and me with our winged Bede BD-4C

Even Robin Hood, the flight supervisor, seemed pleased.

Art, Robin Hood, and Candy with the winged Bede BD-4C.

Art, Robin Hood, and Candy with the winged Bede BD-4C.

There was just one more thing to test and, thankfully, the weather cooperated. One of the shortcomings of my Piper Arrow was that, as a low-wing plane, it was well nigh impossible to stay dry under the wings in a rainstorm. I had heard that high-wing planes work quite well as shelters and, as it turns out, the rumors are true. You can hide under the wings of an airplane and stay dry(ish).

Hiding under the wings of an aluminum airplane during a thunderstorm.

Hiding under the wings of an aluminum airplane during a thunderstorm.

I figure that, after sitting in the garage for 21 months, the plane needed a good rinsing off.

Fortunately, even the rain could not discourage my friends from helping get the wings back off the plane and stow everything back in the garage.

Removing the wings

Removing the wings.

Since this first effort, Kevin and David and I installed the wings a second time and then David and I tried to install them a third time. It was such a struggle that I started making phone calls and learned that the spar in the wing needs to be honed out slightly. With a proper fit (and some chemical help from STP), the wings should slip easily onto the center section of the spar with a little bit of wiggling to get the position just right. I am also going to build a jig/rack to hold one end of the wing so that the process requires a whole lot less brute strength.

Posted in Bede BD-4C
One comment on “Wings On. Wings Off.
  1. Linda McCullough says:

    Watching your project with interest!

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