Bowers Fly Baby

American amateur aircraft

The construction of amateur aircraft has a long tradition in the USA. Not because it is a land of unlimited possibilities; rather, it is because the authorities stopped taking this activity as a necessary evil a long time ago and rather prepared the appropriate regulations for permitting the operation of amateur aircraft in a timely manner. An organization called EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) was created, which brings together all amateur manufacturers and is also an advisory body. And so, year after year, hundreds of different creations appear at the EAA gatherings, more or less successful, from replicas of warplanes from the First World War to "super-grinders" that fly up to 400 km/h in flying competitions around pylons.

Basic building regulations are not comprehensive. During construction, it is necessary to follow basic manufacturing rules, which is overseen by a commissioner appointed by the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority). He also takes care of proper workshop processing, engine installation and checks a whole range of other operations. If everything is in order, the manufacturer will receive a permit for the "Experimental" category after the flight. This does not grant him much freedom; every six months, the aircraft undergoes an inspection, which is carried out by the FAA commissioner, flights outside the parent airport must be requested in advance, etc.

Every year, the EAA holds a competition for the best amateur construction, in which the Fly Baby won in 1962. The aircraft stands out for its simple design; however, its creator, Peter M. Bowers, had other aspects in mind when creating it, so that it could, for example, fit into a regular garage when folded and that the individual parts could also be built into it. The flight characteristics had to correspond to the Piper "Cupa" or Cessna 140 with the possibility of using an engine from 65 to 85 hp. The dimensions of the chassis are sufficient even for very uneven terrain and the installation of floats is also considered.

Construction costs are reasonable for the conditions and amounted to about 400 US dollars for building materials and about 700 US dollars for a 65 к engine. The labor is not excessive either, for the prototype it was 720 working hours.

But it wouldn't even be the United States if a successful designer didn't become an entrepreneur overnight. Building plans, detailed instructions and basic information for a home building permit are offered immediately, all for just US$15. Whether such documentation is sufficient for the supervisory authority is difficult to say. But the fact remains that today Fly Baby is flying around the USA in many copies.

Fly Baby Plane Plans

Fly Baby is a single-seat reinforced low-wing aircraft of all-wood construction with a solid two-wheel landing gear and spur.

The wing is rectangular in shape with an elliptical tip. The structure is double-girder with ribs, the leading part is covered with aluminum sheet (or plywood) up to the front girder. The whole is covered with canvas. The wing is internally cross-braced with wires. The external reinforcement leads below to the axis of the chassis, then above to the hinge at the cab. The reinforcing wires are tensioned by one common tensioner in the cabin under the dashboard. The airfoil used is NACA 4412.

The hull of the lattice structure resembles a model building. The sides of the hull are covered with plywood, the lower part and the upper part behind the cabin with canvas. The front upper part of the fuselage is covered with sheet metal, as is the aerodynamic cover behind the pilot's head. The open cockpit is protected by a square plate.
The simple dashboard has a compass on the right, two magnet switches on the left, an oil pressure gauge next to it, and an oil temperature gauge and an engine tachometer below it. The central suspension part has an altimeter on the top, a speedometer on the left and a variometer on the right. The transverse inclinometer is mounted under the dashboard on the bulkhead. To the left of the inclinometer are the engine control levers. (Note - Section 2-2 in the drawing is drawn for greater clarity!) Steering is lever-operated.

The tail surfaces are again similar in construction to the wing. The leading part of the keel surface and the stabilizer is covered with sheet metal, and the whole is covered with cloth. The stabilizer is reinforced with wires both to the keel surface and to the spur. The profile of both surfaces is symmetrical.

Landing gear. The two-wheel chassis with a continuous axis is attached to the hull with V-shaped wooden struts. It is also transversely reinforced with wires anchored to the center of the continuous axis. Therefore, the suspension is provided only by superbalon wheels with a dimension of 8.00 X 4.00, which are equipped with a hydraulic brake. The spur is steerable with a turn signal.

The engine group consists of a flat air-cooled Continental A-65 (or A-75 to C-85) 4-cylinder engine with an output of 65 hp, which drives a fixed wooden two-bladed propeller. The exhausts are routed to the muffler and under the fuselage. The motor cover is formed from aluminum sheet. Behind the firewall (in front of the pilot) is a fuel tank with a capacity of about 50 liters from a Piper Cub aircraft. An overhead container can be used as additional luggage space.

Technical data: Span 8.54 m, total length 5.75 m, height 2.11 m. Wing area 11.15 m2. Empty weight 275 kg, flight weight 420 kg, surface load 37.6 kg/m2. Travel speed 145 to 185 km/h (depending on the engine used), climb rate 4.3 to 5.6 m/s