Sunday, July 18, 2010

Look in the Sky. Its a Bird. Its a Plane. Its Actually a Brunner Winkle Bird

Look around 42N country and you will find surprises. At the back of a hanger located close to small town Iowa is this modest looking biplane. But this is no ordinary biplane. Its a Brunner Winkle Bird - a what you ask?

A Brunner Winkle Bird is a one of the first few models of non-military biplanes made for recreational use. The company produced some 240 of the Bird models from 1928 to 1931. Because of the plane's reliability and simplicity, Charles Lindbergh taught Anne Morrow Lindbergh to fly in a Bird at the Long Island Aviation Country Club in Hicksville, NY.

Today's hanger tour yielded a restoration work in progress. Someone is performing maintenance on the Bird's engine by removing the pistons for cleaning. While each piston is carefully marked so that parts are not mixed up, an examination of the piston heads reveal layers of carbon buildup. Although cleaning may sound like a daunting task the actual process is straight forward and can lead to a pickup of horsepower for this 90-hp rated engine.

Right now this Bird isn't going anywhere fast. The pistons, overhead cylinder heads and various parts look like they were just pulled. If you were an 80 year old plane you would want someone to keep your engine and working parts in great condition. Once cleaned, repaired, re-assembled and checked out, the engine will be good for more hours of 88-105 mph cruising around our favorite latitude. Know that.