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Restoration perfection – Piper PA-12 page 5

Story and photos by Robert S. Grant

With power on and half flap, the aircraft simply mushed, dropped the nose slightly, gently recovered and then repeated the procedure. Airspeed indicated about 20–Frank would have said 21.

A few steep turns each way required slight aileron pressure. The nose held easily along the horizon with a gentle rearward touch. Plenty of rudder, however, was definitely needed for a properly co-ordinated turn. Piper PA-12s came into the world at a time before assisted, balanced or interconnected controls. Sideslips for exploratory purposes demanded little effort.

Landings–six of them–proved surprisingly easy and felt similar to a Piper PA-18 Super Cub. From slow taxi, a few seconds after full throttle and 2,700 rpm, FEPY slammed onto the step, a brief count and airborne. At first, I charged along the river at 60 mph before lifting off but soon figured out when to ease back as low as 35 mph–this with no experience on such a highly modified PA-12.

No question, Frank’s proselytizing had a point. Everything he described about FEPY and Punkari’s craftsmanship proved true. A flying objet d’art, it can be flown by almost anyone, even civil service pilots. It’s likely the aviation community will hear more. |

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