Early Warbirds Beginning to Gather

DR-I replica
William French's crew installs the upper outer wing on his Fokker DR-1 replica at AirVenture. Unlike the original DR-I which famously used cantilevered wings with bracing wires only between the cabane struts and landing gear legs, French's machine--no doubt intelligently--employs stout round cable between the planes. Power is from a Rotec radial; the plane is full scale.

World War One aviation may have peaked in the public's interest in the late 1960's, but with the 100th anniversary of the end of the war to end all wars this year, there's been a resurgence in interest in the first warbirds. That includes AirVenture, where several WWI themed aircraft, engines, engine runs and re-enactors mark the centennial activities.

Now with the weather lifting this afternoon we've seen a few of the WWI replicas emerging from their trailers. As expected, modern materials and techniques are typical in the recreations, but it's also worth noting much of the basics of rag and tube homebuilding was pioneered during the first war. The DR-I triplane in the photo, for example, uses a welded steel tube fuselage and wood wing construction. The same as many plans-built sport planes today.

EAA press materials say the WWI action will peak on Friday, and centers around the Vintage hangar. We'll report more activities as we see them.

Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson is a professional magazine writer and nurtures an ongoing affair with all things internal combustion. His writing is most often found in automotive magazines, but aviation is his first love. Working as a line boy, he learned to fly while in high school, but still hasn't mastered the art of keeping a paper chart in an open cockpit.

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