|While at Sun N Fun doing an interview on Airdrome
Aeroplanes Eindecker I ran into Robert Baslee owner of Airdrome
Aeroplanes. Robert and his staff had just completed building 4 of
his full-scale Nieuport 17s from start to finish in only 52 days.
Each of these aircraft would normally take a customer from 6 to 9
months to build!
Apparently a movie company
doing a movie about the Lafayeete Escadrille had contracted Robert
to produce 2 aircraft in 60 days. Each day Robert would email
pictures of the build progress. 10 days into the build he was again
contacted this time to build an additional 2 aircraft - but still
within the 60 day time limit!
At the end of 52 days Robert delivered 4 full
scale, fully F.A.A. inspected, Volkswagen powered, test flown
Nieuport 17's to the production company. Robert indicates that the
craft were designed and built from original drawings from the
Smithsonian, so that they are exact airframe replicas of the
The only difference is the power plants. The
original craft used rotary engines. To replicate the look of the
engine a rotary engine mock up was designed for the front of the
planes, but the original full scale prop is still used.
Performance of the craft is identical to the
original design with cruise speeds coming in at 100 to 105 mph. The
major difference being that the original craft weighed in at 900
lbs. while the Airdrome replicas come in at 530 lbs. With this added
power to weight ratio the planes get off the ground quicker and are
able to climb out considerably steeper.
Unfortunately the film "Flyboys" calls for two of
the craft to be destroyed during filming which started on May 1st,
2005. Robert left for England to put the planes together and do some
of the flying on April 24th and will be in England for 6 weeks.