Kermit Weeks’ Le Rhone-powered Sopwith Pup reproduction suffered damage after the cowling became detached during its first post-restoration flight.
Weeks states that he “took off fine” and “flew around for about 15 minutes with the 80 hp Le Rhone rotary engine running nicely.” He performed numerous figure eights over the field before coming in for a photo pass. He slowly lowered the nose, and just before reaching Fantasy of Flight’s runway, was given “a rather sudden, noisy, and spectacular surprise.”
The nose cowl is held on by a cable that clamps into a grooved slot on the outside of the firewall. When I slightly dropped the nose, the increased airspeed caused the not-so-properly-adjusted cowl to jump the groove and the rotating engine quickly shred it into numerous pieces, sending shrapnel everywhere, damaging the wings, and wrapping cowling around the center section and flying wires that began to flutter in the 80 mph breeze!
Weeks notes that he immediately shut the engine down and focused on landing the plane, which can be seen in the newly released video below, along with photos of the aftermath.
OK Gang, as promised, here's a short clip of the recent Sopwith Pup incident. I had already flown around for about fifteen minutes and everything was going well. I set up for a photo pass knowing Phil(mer) was on the side of the runway. He was shooting in 1080 so we had to zoom this clip in 3x. The resolution is not the greatest but at least you can see what transpired. Turn up the volume.
Initially, the cowl departs before I am over the FoF runway and you can see the left side cowl floating down across the street. The rest of the cowl stayed wrapped around the plane and can be heard flapping in the breeze. I immediately shut the engine down and focused on landing the plane.
The timing of the incident from a safety and filming point of view (thanks to "my Friends" 😇 😇 😇 ) was impeccable!
Posted by Kermit Weeks on Tuesday, May 29, 2018
This was a somewhat unhappy me shortly after my somewhat earlier-than-planned landing!
The nose cowl is held on by a cable that clamps into a grooved slot on the outside of the firewall. When I slightly…
This was pretty much what I was looking at from the cockpit.
I immediately closed the throttle as I (VERY LUCKILY)…
The left side cowl aft of the firewall left the airplane first and was later found across the street but, as you can…
Here's a closer shot showing the damaged prop, the now un-cowled engine, and the right side-cowl wrapped around the rear flying wires!
It appears the cowl first departed upwards on the left side with the corkscrewing prop wash, and took out this section of the leading edge. Fortunately, it appears so far, there was no damage to the wing spar.
Here was a loose piece of cowling shrapnel that followed the swirling prop wash to embed itself into the top surface of the right lower wing.
(via Kermit Weeks Thanks, Pascal!)