When this project began, the Orlando AIM campus was our newest, and smallest school. They enthusiastically joined with the other locations in selecting an aircraft and beginning construction. They settled on a Fokker D-VIII. As soon as the fuselage pieces were starting to take shape, it became apparent that the rapidly expanding school had no space left to dedicate to building an airplane. The project was quite literally put on the shelf with the hopes of more space becoming available. That didn’t happen until October of 2011 when the school moved into a wonderful new location that is several times the square footage of their original site. Space can finally be allocated to the airplane project and it can get moving again.
With the passage of time and change of location, came the normal changes in personnel, and of course the students who were first involved are long gone and making their own history in the aviation industry. When the current staff and students took a fresh look at the project, it was decided to change designs and build a deHavilland D.H.2.
The D.H.2 biplane was Geoffrey de Havilland’s second design for the Aircraft Manufacturing Company. This highly successful pusher had good maneuverability with an excellent rate of climb. Mounting the engine to the rear of the fuselage permitted the use of a fixed, forward-firing machine gun before the advent of the synchronous machine gun. Superior to the Fokker E.III, the D.H.2 helped end the “Fokker Scourge.”
Following in the footsteps of the late Walt Redfern of Seattle, WA who, in 1970 built a full scale reproduction of the D.H.2. (and whose plans we will be using) we will apply some of the same modifications to design that he found successful. We will be using 4130 chrome-moly steel tubing in the fuselage pod which was constructed of wood in the original. Additionally, like Mr. Redfern we will opt for a modern engine, and install the Rotec that we had purchased for the D-VIII.
Keep coming back here as we post the step by step launch of this new chapter at our Orlando campus.