Watts Bridge Queensland was the venue on the 16th of May 2013 for the first flight of Bruce and Mary Clarkes WW1 Sopwith Pup replica aircraft. The aircraft was built by Bruce and Mary over the past 2 years from an Airdrome kit.
The structure externally gives a very faithful representation of the pup although the airfoil section is different to assist in performance and handling characteristics. This difference is almost impossible to spot unless you are aware of it.
Bruce chose to build a Sopwith Pup as he felt it was, by reputation, a great aircraft to fly with excellent flying characteristics. It was also very representative of the historic aircraft of the WW1 era and well-liked by pilots of the time.
The aircraft is of all metal fabrication (Featuring aluminum tube construction with pulled rivets and bolts. No welding required) rather than the original largely wooden construction. Bruce is a highly experienced aircraft engineer with over 50 years of work in the Aviation field so construction presented no major problems for him. We were privileged on the day to view some of Bruce’s other projects including a Nieuport 17 and the standard of his work is excellent.
100 year old Rotary engines are now rare or unobtainable so the wise choice of a modified VW 2275cc Type 1 engine with a PSRU (propeller speed reduction unit) was made as it gives similar power and sounds strangely “right” in the pup. The wooden prop is a beautiful art work in its own right and was manufactured in the USA.
Whilst Bruce was the driving force on the aircraft construction, his wife Mary is no silent partner having become an accomplished fabric worker she covered the entire aircraft to a very high standard so they are true partners on the Pups construction.
For the first flight the Pup was piloted by highly experienced Airline Pilot and The Australian Vintage Aviation Society (TAVAS) founder Andrew Carter. The Pup had previously been ground run and taxied in preparation for the flight. After a very early morning start the aircraft was fueled and readied for the flight. The aircraft lifted off at about 8.30 below high cloud and was almost instantly airborne; climbing to almost 3,000 ft. while Andrew came to grips with the handling and flying characteristics Andrew circled the small Watts Bridge airfield several times before bringing the Pup in to land.
The flight went particularly well and Andrew was smiling broadly when he emerged from the cockpit and pronounced it to be an excellent aircraft to fly with virtually no vices. Some minor rigging matters are being attended to prior to more flying but Andrew was very complementary of the aircraft and the excellent construction by Bruce and Mary.
© John Parker 2013