Another ‘Gull Wing’ airborne
After assembly, in-depth inspection, and repair where necessary by The Classic Aeroplane Co at Oaksey Park, Thomas Struthers’ Stinson V-77 Reliant NC33543 had its first thirty-minute test-flight on 2 March 2017. Pilot Phil Hall said after landing that it handled as beautifully as it looks with its smooth, powerful Lycoming R680E and well-balanced flying controls. This is the fourth Gull Wing in the UK, joining White Waltham-based G-BUCH, NC50238 at Compton Abbas and NC69745 at Birmingham Airport. The three N-registered Reliants have been brought over from the USA by Steven Moth’s Spirit in the Sky in the past three years.
NC33543 was originally constructed by the Stinson Division of Consolidated Vultee in 1944 as AT-19 43-44086. It was one of 500 ordered under Lend-lease arrangements for the Fleet Air Arm and allocated the serial FB645. After the war 353 of these training and communications aircraft were returned to the USA where they were purchased by Vultee and re-manufactured on a production line at Wayne, Michigan as the V-77 to a civilian specification similar to the Stinson SR-10 Reliant. With constructor’s number 77-373, NC33543 received its first FAA airworthiness certificate on 18 December 1955. Originally owned by John G Peppard it was flown by Robert Mcmillan at Kansas City, Missouri for 24 years before purchase by Donald Maxfield in 1979. At this time the aircraft went through an extensive restoration to ‘as new’ condition with Lil Red Aero - his aircraft engineering business in Kearney, Nebraska. He and his daughter Anna made regular short flights in the attractively red-painted Gull Wing right up to the time of his death in 2015, by which date it had logged just 911 hrs flying. NC33543 is currently for sale at Bicester, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil Hall landing the ‘new’ Reliant in the late afternoon sunshine at Oaksey Park on 2 March