An­other ‘Gull Wing’ air­borne

Pilot - - OLD TIMERS -

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: steven@spir­itinthesky.co.uk

Phil Hall land­ing the ‘new’ Re­liant in the late af­ter­noon sun­shine at Oak­sey Park on 2 March

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