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Old 02-05-2015, 09:11 PM   #1
av8rps
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Default Is this "the ultimate homebuilt"??

I think this just has to be the ultimate homebuilt. And it gets better...he actually built 2 of them!

And better yet, the designer / builder of the Explorer is the same guy that created the original aircraft that evolved into our modern Kitfoxes. And at last count there are about 30 derivative designs or copies of the original Avid Flyer.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RLKNPOSpMpY

So I just thought you guys might enjoy seeing this incredible homebuilt that was built at Avid aircraft..... (wait for it...) in their spare time (and when I say their spare time, bear in mind that Avid and Kitfox were both shipping as many as 40 kits (each) a month at the time).

The design and construction of two of these mamoth Explorers alone was a huge task for anyone, but in addition to the design of the Avid and the Explorer, Dean Wilson designed and built, or rebuilt 80 DIFFERENT AIRCRAFT between just the 80's and 90's! (And he's still at it last I spoke with him...).

Enjoy.

Last edited by av8rps; 02-05-2015 at 09:23 PM.
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Old 02-05-2015, 11:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: Is this "the ultimate homebuilt"??

in the early 90s i was working a temp in anchorage. early on a sunday morning of one of my days off i was cursing around merrill field checking out airplanes and one of these happened to be setting on the ramp . it was a amazing airplane . back in those days a person was able to wonder out on the ramp so i was able to do a really good walk around . i was even invited to climb inside . that was before i was aware of the genius of wilson but knew enough about planes to recognize this one as something special . the plane was flying a french film crew around doing some kind of a documentary about alaska . guess they had stopped in anchorage for r and r . they also had a turbo maule on floats flying with them . the explorer that i say was white and i believe it was later destroyed .
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Old 02-05-2015, 11:46 PM   #3
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Default Re: Is this "the ultimate homebuilt"??

Fascinating man!

He also designed and built this smaller single engine, land version:

1479465.jpg

There's a full article somewhere on it, that I can't find right now with full specs and interior photo's.

And this one with a very cool wing design: http://www.airbum.com/pireps/PirepEllipse.html

Last I heard he still owned both prototypes (not sure though).

He is also in the EAA Hall of Fame.
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Old 02-06-2015, 09:42 AM   #4
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Default Re: Is this "the ultimate homebuilt"??

I also remember reading the articles about those planes. Basically a flying motorhome, sure wish I could have afforded one.

There was another small plane at Oshkosh several years back that was ntroduced into the LSA catagory. Unfortunately the plane crashed and the designer perished. I thought it had great potential as a small backcountry mini camper. It was called the Eco-Flyer.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ils0QezjRL8
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Old 02-06-2015, 06:56 PM   #5
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Default Re: Is this "the ultimate homebuilt"??

Thanks for posting these pictures. For sure, genius comes rarely and it is good to feel we have had the opportunity to participate in it.

We had a neighbor here in the Airpark who was a missionary to Africa - Bill Finke. We always refer to him as Reverend Bill. He would spend a month at home, then two months in his compound there. Since ground transportation was such an issue, Bill was heavily into airplanes to get him around. He contracted with Dean Wilson to design him a short field biplane. It was assembled here then put into a container for the trip to Africa where it served for several years until damaged in a landing. Several years after these pictures were taken, Bill died here at home while testing a Rotorway Exec.

Note the Flaperons and the design of the top one. I never flew in it, but took these pictures during Phase 1 Folks here called it the Venetian Blind.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Finke 3.jpg (97.7 KB, 323 views)
File Type: jpg Finke 1.jpg (90.6 KB, 320 views)
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Old 02-06-2015, 09:26 PM   #6
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Default Re: Is this "the ultimate homebuilt"??

Hi Lowell, that is a different looking airplane for sure. I'm wondering what I"m seeing in the second picture on the verticle stabilizer above where the N # is. Almost looks like it's a.... I'm not sure what it looks like. Can you tell us anything more about the plane or show any more pictures. Thanks Jim Chuk
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Old 02-06-2015, 10:56 PM   #7
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Default Re: Is this "the ultimate homebuilt"??

Jim,
I have no other pictures that are significantly different - all of the others are while in flight.

I think what we are seeing is an optical illusion derived from the angle of the sun and a sort of primitive airfoil shape on the vertical stabilizer and the right rudder deflection as the picture was taken. I think we are seeing the forward half of the vertical and the rudder in the shade of the late afternoon sun. Looking at the vertical stabilizer and rudder in the in flight picture gives a more accurate view. Looking again at the pictures reminded me of the very short wing chord on the lower wing with the flaperon essentially acting as an aft section of the wing that was movable giving an opportunity to bend the airfoil during slow approaches. There is no doubt that Dean Wilson was way beyond most that are out there today.
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Old 02-07-2015, 01:28 AM   #8
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Default Re: Is this "the ultimate homebuilt"??

My friend Scott Christiansen in South Dakota built a beautiful example of an Ellipse. He's had it at Oshkosh the last 2 or 3 years. I believe that there are only 3 or 4 of them in existence.
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Old 02-07-2015, 04:52 PM   #9
av8rps
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Default Re: Is this "the ultimate homebuilt"??

Chuck,

The one you saw was his 1st Explorer. It was destroyed in a takeoff accident caused by pilot error:

..... the Explorer had a very large wing, and since Dean knew there were times it could be anchored in potential strong winds (probably while you and crew were sleeping in it) so he installed spoilers on top of each wing that you would actuate when parked, destroying any potential for wind to cause the wing to lift. Well, the pilot tried to takeoff with a full load in the water and couldn't figure out why it wasn't flying (not realizing the spoilers were still up). After an extremely long water run it finally lifted off (amazingly). But unfortunately it wasn't able to climb over the tres on the shore, so it crashed into them.

Miraculously no one was killed. It has been a long time since I was told that story, so I hope my recollection is accurate, but I don't think anyone was even injured

I was told that story by one of Dean's Avid employees who helped Dean build that airplane, and was in it when it crashed. I can't remember the N-number, except to know it ended in DT, the initials of Dean's employee and friend that worked with him all through the project, including the flight testing and then putting it to work for for the first season with the french documentary film producer who contracted Dean to build it (for 500k as I recall).

The film producer liked the airplane so much that he asked Dean to build another. That's the yellow one you see in the you tube video.

Oh, and worth mentioning... the engines were only around 250 hp (300 on 2nd one) and the props were only fixed pitch (!). It would takeoff in 300 ft at the airport, and cruise at 110 mph. Considering its small engines and fixed pitch props and an 8,000 lb gross weight (3 k useful) it performed unbelievably well (Dean's well known trademark).

And get this, the tail end of the fuselage was hinged so it could hold either a folded up Avid Flyer, or a Robinson R-22 in the cabin. This is one HUGE homebuilt.

Also worth mentioning, the film producer flew an Avid Flyer (modified with a huge fuel tank built into the belly of the fuselage) from France to the North pole in 1987. That's how he got to know Dean. He and Dean later worked on a business deal with Dean's "Private Explorer", hoping to create a flying missionary doctor and/or dentist lab, providing third world nations with needed outreach medical and dental help on a budget. Unfortunately their friendship ended not so good for business reasons, as it sure would have been cool to see what he would have had Dean build for him next.

Rumor has it that Dean has a single engine amphib on paper, his own personal dream plane. I suspect that might have been the film producer's next?

Paul

Quote:
Originally Posted by cap01 View Post
in the early 90s i was working a temp in anchorage. early on a sunday morning of one of my days off i was cursing around merrill field checking out airplanes and one of these happened to be setting on the ramp . it was a amazing airplane . back in those days a person was able to wonder out on the ramp so i was able to do a really good walk around . i was even invited to climb inside . that was before i was aware of the genius of wilson but knew enough about planes to recognize this one as something special . the plane was flying a french film crew around doing some kind of a documentary about alaska . guess they had stopped in anchorage for r and r . they also had a turbo maule on floats flying with them . the explorer that i say was white and i believe it was later destroyed .
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Old 02-07-2015, 06:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: Is this "the ultimate homebuilt"??

Yes, he most certainly is a fascinating guy. And as down to earth as anyone you will ever meet.

Here is a really cool link to an article on his Private Explorer design.

http://www.ohgizmo.com/200http://www...er-with-wings/

I remember the Private Explorer flying in front of a really large crowd at Oshkosh doing a flight demonstration while a woman in the back played a full sized chord organ (with the mic running through the aircrafts radio played through the flighline PA system).

Oh, and most don't know this, but it was also aerobatic! Mild aerobatics, but aerobatic....

I know there was a small production of these planes built in Canada. Almost all are flying on floats as that was one of the primary design goals of the airplane. And a couple are equipped with a small turboprop engine. I heard they are quite sought after as a floatplane because they offer so much utility, but yet fly nice and are very fuel efficient.

And here's another link that explains the connection between the Private Explorer and the EcoFlyer.

http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news..._200773-1.html

Considering all that Dean Wilson has done with aviation, I can only hope that one day he is widely recognized for being one of the most creative aircraft designers of this time. Someone from the Smithsonian told me once that their research shows that the Avid Flyer is probably the most copied light aircraft design of the time, even surpassing the Taylor J2 Cub.

Amazingly, it took the efforts of a handful of us more than a decade to get Dean into EAA's Hall of Fame. But at least we eventually did. And Dean was more than honored to have finally received that recognition (he's seen little in his lifetime).

I still own the Avid Flyer prototype, and hope one day it can be put on display somewhere so it can help to recognize Dean's accomplishments.

Many don't know this, but the design of the Avid Flyer (followed by Kitfox) is what put Rotax on the map for aircraft engines. And today look where they are? (I just read recently that they are now the largest aircraft engine manufacturer in the world?). Well, all that was prompted by Avid and Kitfox builders wanting better engines, and eventally a 4 stroke, which became the 912 (a kitfox 2 was the initial configuration that Rotax designed the 912 for because there were so many being built).

Plus, Dean was the guy that first mated a gear reduction to a 2 stroke snowmo engine to use it in an airplane. His Avid prototype used a Cuyuna 2 stroke designed for an ultralight (Rotax essentially hadn't come onto the scene yet) spinning s short prop at high rpm. But the climb rate was sickly at 200 fpm. So Dean went to a junkyard and bought a used Ford C3 transmission, and built a 3 to 1 gear reduction from the transmission's planetary drive. Now able spin a big 6 ft long prop at only a little over 2000 rpm, he had thrust! And a 1400 fpm plus climb rate! And the whole ultralight and lightplane movement never looked back since, enjoying lightweight engines that used gearboxes to make a lot of thrust. Again, in the background Dean was making more history.

And over a decade ago, the Faa used a Kitfox 4-1200 as their poster child for the newly proposed Light Sport Rule. A Kitfox was even parked in a display outside the capital by the Faa to promote their new rule, and educate the public. Because I was involved in the initial meetings that ultimately led to the creation of the Light Sport Rule, I know the Avid and the Kitfox design was used as the initial basis of what a light sport aircraft would be modeled after.

So had Dean Wilson not ever created that original, 1st Avid Flyer, the world of aviation we enjoy today would likely be a very different place....

For more info about Dean Wilson dowload the pdf kitplanes oct 2006 article "Design is a way of life for Dean Wilson" by Tim Kerns at:

http://www.avidflyeraircraft.com/ass...n%20Wilson.pdf

Paul

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danzer1 View Post
Fascinating man!

He also designed and built this smaller single engine, land version:

Attachment 8421

There's a full article somewhere on it, that I can't find right now with full specs and interior photo's.

And this one with a very cool wing design: http://www.airbum.com/pireps/PirepEllipse.html

Last I heard he still owned both prototypes (not sure though).

He is also in the EAA Hall of Fame.

Last edited by Av8r3400; 02-07-2015 at 07:21 PM.
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