60-Year Homebuilt Project Ready To Fly

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An 84-year-old former Boeing manufacturing engineering instructor says he hopes to finish a 60-year-old project this year with a flight in a replica of one of the most unusual homebuilt aircraft designs ever conceived. Ed Kusmirek built a replica of a 1924 Dormoy Bathtub aircraft at his home in Renton, Wash. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times (rerun from the Seattle Times) the project began in the 1950s when Kusmirek found an authentic engine for the type (actually a motorcycle engine) in Oklahoma. Since then he's plugged away at recreating the single place and very light aircraft, starting in his living room and moving to his garage. Now, he says, he's a few pen strokes away from flying it.

Kusmirek has asked for an inspection from the FAA and he has to brush up his own flying skills. He has a pilot certificate but isn't current. In the spirit of homebuilt aircraft of the era, Kusmirek has used an assortment of adapted technology to create the aircraft, from bicycle spokes as tension wires to dirt bike wheels for landing gear. A rowing machine bungee provides the landing gear suspension. After six decades of development, he said he plans to fly it once and then donate it to a museum.